Salt Water Taffy — anyone who’s strolling, jogging or biking the Atlantic City Boardwalk can’t help but notice the signs enticing visitors to try this colorful, sticky treat. But have you ever wondered about the origin of these chewy morsels?
It seems that historians have finally agreed that the candy’s creator was a young candy merchant named David Bradley. The year was 1880, and Bradley arrived at work to find that his candy stand, located on the beach a few steps from the ocean, had been swamped by a storm.
Later that day, a child came up to ask for candy, and Bradley replied sarcastically, “You mean salt water taffy, don’t you?”
The child’s mother overheard, and thought that would be a great new name for his candy. “But who would want to buy taffy soaked in ocean water?” he asked. The woman suggested he use fresh water, and just add salt.
The name for this sticky treat stuck and the rest is history.
Today, Salt Water Taffy can be found in a slew of wild, outrageous flavors, such as Root Beer, Chocolate Chip Cookie, Buttered Popcorn and Caramel Corn, to name a few.
The taffy is sold in candy shops on the Boardwalk along with home-made fudge and a variety of other confections.
My favorite place to buy taffy is the 6,000 foot It’s Sugar, located at the entrance to the Pier at Caesars. Even if you don’t eat sweets, this store is a destination unto itself, with taffy in dozens of flavors, racks upon racks of sugary delights, and a counter where you can make your own candy bars.
None of us know what Bradley would think about this phenomenon if he were alive today, but we can probably all agree he’d have a lot to chew on!
[photos courtesy of the Atlantic City Convention & Visitors Authority]