The History of Salt Water Taffy

The History of Salt Water Taffy

Do you ever wonder, “Why is it called ‘Salt Water Taffy’?” Perhaps you’re asking yourself, “Where did salt water taffy originate from?” Like many favorite recipes, the history of saltwater taffy isn’t always clear, but one thing is certain: this American-made candy has been around for over a century and enjoyed by millions. So who invented saltwater taffy and how did it get its name? Read on to learn more about the history of salt water taffy!

Salt Water Taffy History | Founders of Taffy Town behind a large pile of salt water taffy

Where Was Salt Water Taffy Invented?

Though there are a few popular origin stories for where the term “salt water taffy” came from, the most popular salt water taffy history story claims Atlantic City as its birthplace.

When Was Salt Water Taffy Invented?

Most food historians believe salt water taffy was invented in the early 1880s. The story begins with a gentleman named John Ross Edmiston. The owner of a small boardwalk postcard shop in Atlantic City, Edmiston hired a man named David Bradley to sell taffy alongside his wares. While Edmiston eventually fired Bradley, he kept the popular candy in his shop. One night, an ocean swell flooded his boardwalk shop. In the morning, Edmiston discovered all the taffy had been soaked in salty sea foam.

During his cleanup, a young girl came into the store asking if he still had some taffy for sale. Jokingly, Bradley said that he had some “saltwater taffy.” The little girl purchased the taffy and took it back to the beach to share with her friends. Her mother heard the name and instantly loved it, and thus the name “salt water taffy” was born.

Is Salt Water Taffy Really Made With Salt Water?

While the origin of salt water taffy tells us the taffy was soaked by the sea. Since then, salt water taffy hasn’t been caught at high tide. Recipes for salt water taffy vary; none contain actual salt water (and especially not ocean water!). However, both water and salt are usually added at some point during the production process, so the name still fits.

Assorted salt water taffy flavors | Taffy Town

Salt Water Taffy: No Longer Just a Beachside Treat

The word “taffy” was first used in the United States in the early 1800s. While much has changed since then, Americans’ love for taffy has only grown.

Now you know where the name “salt water taffy” comes from, let’s take a closer look at where it first was sold: Atlantic City. This beachside resort destination in New Jersey was a popular getaway for North-easterners in the late 19th century (and still today). Catering to tourists and weekenders, Atlantic City was full of fine dining restaurants, upscale hotels and gambling halls, and boardwalk games and sweets; to stand out from the competition, a candy shop needed to create demand. Once Edmiston coined the curious term “salt water taffy” the sweet treat only grew in popularity.

Joseph Fralinger, a confectioner in Atlantic City, is given credit for being the first successful merchandiser of the candy. Originally, salt water taffy was something only purchased from an Atlantic City boardwalk stand. However, Fralinger came up with the idea of boxing up the taffy for people to take home. This was a smashing success, and his boxes of taffy sold out quickly. Even today, simple boxes stuffed with individually wrapped taffy remain one of the most popular ways to buy this all-American candy.

Salt water taffy history may have begun on boardwalks by the oceans, but it is now commonly enjoyed as a tasty treat all over the country. Thanks to the pioneers of salt water taffy, this wrapped candy comes in tons of flavors and can be enjoyed anywhere! At Taffy Town, we’re far from any coast, yet have become one of the most popular gourmet taffy producers in the country. Taffy is no longer just a beachside treat.

Old fashioned raspberry salt water taffy candy surrounded by raspberries

Taffy Town’s Unique Taffy-making Process

We’ve covered saltwater taffy history, but what about how it’s being made today? When it comes to salt water taffy, there’s regular taffy, and then there’s Taffy Town taffy. Those who have tried our candy know that we stand out from the others. But what is the difference that sets our taffy apart?

Traditional salt water taffy production starts by boiling a variety of sugars in a large copper kettle to a high temperature. Then, the sugary mass goes through an aeration process to capture tiny bubbles in the candy. This makes it softer and less tacky. Typically, a pulling machine stretches, twists, and kneads the mixture into a chewy treat. After that, the taffy is cut into pieces and packaged for consumption.

Taffy Town's whipped salt water taffy production process

Now for the most important part: our unique taffy-making process that makes Taffy Town taffy the best around! Unlike the traditional method, our process starts with whipping a meringue to create the fluffiest structure possible. We use evaporated milk and real salt in our recipe for a creamy, rich base for our flavors. Try our taffy and you’ll quickly realize that we aren’t your average taffy shop.

How salt water taffy is made - Taffy Town salt water taffy production line

Our salt water taffy production process takes three days from start to finish, and our factory is always full of fresh treats! We currently have over 90 different flavors, and we’re always on the hunt for new ones. Each year, we take suggestions from our customers and consumer trend reports to develop our flavors. Our taffy flavors are thoroughly tested for tastiness before they hit the shelves. With our wide selection to choose from, you’re sure to find at least a few favorites!

We’re Keeping the History Alive at Taffy Town

Boxed salt water taffy order coming off production line at Taffy Town salt water taffy factory in Salt Lake City, Utah

We’re proud to carry on the history of salt water taffy — one of America’s favorite candies. Did you know that you don’t have to be on a boardwalk to enjoy our wide selection of Taffy Town flavors? You can shop from the comfort of your own home and savor the treats that come straight to your door. Take a look at our wide variety of salt water taffy flavors. We have the perfect gourmet candy selection for every palate. Stop by our Utah candy store or place your salt water taffy order today!

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