The Sweet (and Salty) History of Saltwater Taffy

It's not Summer without Saltwater Taffy!

There are some things that you just can't go without during a trip to the beach: strolling on the boardwalk, lounging on the sand, greasy food and ice cream cones...and saltwater taffy! 

As it turns out, this iconic candy has a history as rich as its taste.

Let’s explore the origins of saltwater taffy, debunk some myths, and see how this treat continues to charm sweet tooths today! 

The Birthplace of Saltwater Taffy: Atlantic City, NJ

The story of saltwater taffy begins in the coastal city of Atlantic City, New Jersey, in the late 19th century. Atlantic City was a hotspot for tourists looking for relaxation and fun by the ocean. Among the various attractions and amusements, candy shops were a popular stop for visitors looking for a sweet souvenir.

The most famous origin story of saltwater taffy involves a candy store owned by David Bradley. According to legend, a major storm in 1883 caused the ocean to flood Bradley’s store, soaking his supply of taffy. When a customer came in asking for taffy, Bradley humorously called it "saltwater taffy." The name resonated with customers...and then it just stuck!

We don't know if this story is 100% true...but we'd like to believe it is! 

What is certain, though, is that by the early 1900s, saltwater taffy had cemented its place as a must-have treat for beachgoers in Atlantic City and beyond.

Is it Really Made with Saltwater?

One of the most common questions about saltwater taffy is whether it actually contains seawater. Despite its name, the candy is not made with ocean water. The name "saltwater taffy" comes more from its seaside origins than its ingredients.

The traditional recipe for saltwater taffy includes sugar, corn syrup, water, butter, salt, and flavorings. But there's just something special  about it anyway...

Why We Eat Taffy at The Beach

Saltwater taffy’s association with the beach is no accident. In the late 19th and early 20th centuries, as more Americans flocked to seaside resorts, the demand for unique, portable treats grew. Candy makers in coastal towns seized this opportunity to market their taffy to tourists looking for souvenirs.

The chewy, long-lasting nature of saltwater taffy made it an ideal snack for leisurely beach days. It was easy to package, didn’t melt in the sun like chocolate, and came in a variety of flavors.

And the act of pulling taffy, either by hand or by machine, became a popular attraction in itself, drawing crowds eager to watch the mesmerizing process.

Prominent candy makers like Joseph Fralinger and Enoch James played significant roles in popularizing saltwater taffy. Fralinger, in particular, was known for selling the candy in souvenir boxes, making it a perfect gift to bring home from the beach. This clever marketing helped cement saltwater taffy as a quintessential beachside treat.

Saltwater Taffy Today

Today, saltwater taffy remains a beloved confection, its popularity enduring through the decades. While the candy may not be as ubiquitous as it once was, it still holds a special place in American culture, especially in coastal towns where the tradition began.

And you can find some pretty awesome flavors these days! We've seen flavors like birthday cake, PB&J, spicy mango...the list goes on. 

What's the best flavor of saltwater taffy you've ever had? Let us know in the comments! 


P.S...You don't have to go to the beach to get your saltwater taffy fix! CLICK HERE TO GET SOME!