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The Story of Salt Water Taffy

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TOPIC:
The story of Salt Water Taffy

That sweet, sticky candy seen on boardwalks in New Jersey for years -- is it made with real salt water from the ocean? The answer is no, and the only salt found in the taffy recipes is the same salt used in any candy. So why is it called 'Salt water' Taffy?

It appears the first taffy made and sold in Atlantic City called 'Salt Water Taffy' was more gimmick than anything else. One legend has it that a taffy vendor named David Bradley jokingly referred to the candy as "salt water taffy" after sea water soaked his supply of the candy in an 1883 summer storm.

Although many people believe Bradley invented the candy, no one really knows who was responsible for it's recipe. Another legend says it was created by the Ritchie Brothers and Windle Hollis in 1880. Taffy historians claim that the candy was being sold at Midwest county fairs that same year, but the Ritchie Brothers and Hollis were the first to make the candy in Atlantic City. So they may or may not have been the candy's original true creators.

One thing is certain though: It was Joseph Fralinger who popularized the salt water taffy and became Atlantic City's Saltwater Taffy King. Fralinger realized the potential of selling the candy to bathers and boardwalk visitors, and he saw there was a market for taking home the taffy as a souvenir. As an experiment, he boxed up the candy and he coudn't keep up with the demand.

Competition sprouted quickly, and Fralinger soon had his biggest rival: confectioner Enoch James and Sons. James had heard about the taffy craze going on in Atlantic City, and he moved from the Midwest to the Jersey Shore to setr up shop just down the boardwalk from Fralingers. James made his taffy a little different. It is said he used vegetable oil and also cut his brand to "fit the mouth". Fralinger's taffy was long and slender rather than rectangular, and Atlantic City's first taffy war was on! To this day, fralinger's and James' taffy stores still exist and are in keen competition with each other.

Others had joined in the 'taffy war' and by the mid-1920's, there were over 450 companies making and selling saltwater taffy at the height of its popularity. Though it was sold in many places, Atlantic City remained the saltwater taffy 'capital of the world, and the candy is still synonymous with the boardwalk.


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