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There is No Difference Between Saltwater Taffy and Regular Taffy. It is Simply a Marketing Ploy in Coastal Regions to Ramp Up Sales.

The term taffy is used in the United States, whereas toffee is used in the United Kingdom. According to those researching their histories, both gained popularity during the 19th century. But do you know the difference between Saltwater Taffy and Regular Taffy? 

There is actually no distinction between “saltwater” and regular taffy. It is a marketing ploy in coastal areas that originated in Atlantic City.

The Origin of Taffy

One of the most popular types of 19th-century parties was the candy pull or taffy pull, which involved buttering one’s hands and repeatedly pulling the molasses’ candy. The parties were frequently held in colleges and churches. These parties included both sexes and candy made from molasses or boiled sugar. A warm kitchen, copper pans, and plenty of aprons and napkins were all required for a successful candy pull party. To have a good pull, everyone’s hands had to be well-buttered to avoid the candy sticking to them.

Though candy pulls were popular in the 1840s, they weren’t referred to as taffy pulls until about thirty years later. In nineteenth-century Great Britain and America, cookbooks frequently used taffy and toffee to refer to the same thing, which was usually a molasses-based candy. Most recipes called for a combination of sugar and water, as well as butter to grease the taffy pans or the hands of those pulling the taffy.

Candy pulls were a great way to entertain guests at a spontaneous party because it was an event that both young and old could enjoy. Candy pulls were used to commemorate birthdays and social or religious gatherings. (Source: The Warrell Corporation)

The Early Taffy Recipe

Taffy recipes from the mid-nineteenth century called for making molasses candy, which required boiling the molasses and then cooling it in well-greased pans. When the candy was partially cool, it was pulled until it was a light yellowish color. After that, the candy was shaped into sticks, ropes, or braids and cut with scissors into drop-like shapes.

Molasses and sorghum were excellent substitutes for sugar, which had become increasingly scarce during the Civil War. Some recipes even suggested that party hosts secure a hook to the wall to aid in the pulling process.

Everyone enjoyed this entertainment, including the wealthy residents of New York’s Fifth Avenue. Taffy pulls became a social event in 1870s America. Even though the attendees were dressed very nicely, they frequently enjoyed the evening’s entertainment of the sticky taffy pull.

Taffy pulls were popular in Victorian Wales, especially around the Christmas and New Year’s holidays. While toffee and taffy are not identical, the toffee in Wales was more akin to American flattery. (Source: The Warrell Corporation)

Salt Water Taffy Origin

While there is no documentation on who created the first saltwater taffy or how it evolved in America after its origin in Great Britain, it is believed that taffy was first sold commercially in America during the 1880s at county fairs in the Midwest. (Source: The Warrell Corporation)

Image from Worldfamoustaffy

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