With summer here means trips to the beach, swimming in salty waters, and of course, indulging in some salt water taffy. Most commonly found on boardwalks and in seaside candy stores, the story of how salt water taffy came to be is an entertaining one. Atlantic City is often quoted as the home of salt water taffy, and that is credited to a man named David Bradley.
While the origin of salt water taffy may be more myth than fact, many manufacturers will agree that David Bradley is responsible for the first appearance of salt water taffy. In 1883, a huge storm hit Atlantic City and flooded the boardwalk, where Bradley had his candy storefront. His store was flooded and with it, his supply of taffy.
In the most popular retelling of how salt water taffy came to be, a young girl asked Bradley if the store still had taffy for sale while he was cleaning the mess from the ocean surge. Jokingly, Bradley told the girl to help herself to some “salt water taffy.” His mother heard the exchange from the back and loved the name, and thus, salt water taffy was born. Initially, salt water taffy was something you only purchased at a seaside stand. It took some casual observances by a man named Joseph Fralinger to turn it into a product you can bring home from the beach.
After observing sunbathers and boardwalk visitors purchasing salt water taffy, Fralinger’s idea was to keep the vacation going. He found a way to box the candy and sell it, making salt water taffy a hot commodity. By the 1920s, salt water taffy was at the height of its popularity, with more than 450 manufacturers making and/or selling the candy at the time. Various methods were used to keep salt water taffy from being too sticky to wrap and package, and each confectioner had its own recipe.
Today salt water taffy is found mostly on the Eastern seaboard and is a popular treat for people to bring home after visiting one of those beaches. Taffy is also found in other parts of the country at some theme parks. Right here in Maryland, Wockenfuss Candies offers several flavors of salt water taffy. You don’t even need to go all the way to the beach to bring the treat of summer on the boardwalk home.
Visit our website or one of our many locations to indulge in some salt water taffy today. Wockenfuss is a family owned business, now in its fifth generation of candy-making.