There's Still Time To Max Out Your Saltwater Taffy Quota

The old-timey sweet you literally never remember until you hear the ocean.

July 28, 2020 ● 2 min read

By Alexandra Cavallo | Photo bhofack2 via iStock 

There comes a time in every one of our lives when we must take a good, long, hard look in the mirror and ask ourselves: When was the last time I had salt water taffy?   

Too long ago, that’s when. Unless you have your priorities straight and made sure to worship at the taffy temple when that first warm beach day rolled around. Does it matter that the taffy shaped like little watermelons from this overflowing wooden barrel here taste exactly the same as these “peppermint” ones over there? Nope. Does anyone know what the blue one is? Definitely not. Just get them all!  

{Interlude while we wait for that person who always insists on buying the long sheets of candy dots that never peel off cleanly, and also for that other person who asks the group, in a very serious voice, if they should purchase a kite shaped like a shark.}

Do you know what all salt water taffy tastes like? It tastes like summer is supposed to taste. It tastes like digging your feet into a sand dune. It tastes like America! (But not Trump’s America. No. Salt water taffy is already great.) Salt water taffy does not divide: it brings us together as we plunge sticky hands into a communal stash on long car rides. Salt water taffy tastes like long, golden days fading into dusk with nothing to do the next day, or the next. It tastes like running up a splintered wooden boardwalk from the beach, barefoot and tracking sand in a still-damp bathing suit. Salt water taffy is irresistible in a campy, nostalgic way and it persists, season after season after season.

Urban candy legend traces the genesis of saltwater taffy back to the Atlantic City of the 1880s—a strange and salty place lost in time—when a storm flooded a boardwalk candy shop, soaking its selection of old timey sweets in briny ocean water. When a child came in to purchase some taffy, the shopkeeper offered some “salt water” taffy instead, as a joke. Who’s laughing now, bucko?

Sure, salt water taffy is mostly corn syrup, and isn’t actually made with salt water. And sure! Sometimes it sticks to that weird spot on your back tooth and kind of burns. But salt water taffy is good and fine and should be respected as the wax paper-shrouded gemstone that it is.  

Do you remember the last time you had a piece of salt water taffy? TODAY, THAT’S WHEN.