Fat Kid Friday: Saltwater Taffy
Sweet, chewy and delicious
Oh how I love thee.
Yes. I love this particular summer treat so much I write impromptu haiku in its honor.
Here’s a quick test for you: If you read the title of this post and it brought back fond memories, you might have grown up/summered in New England. If you read the title of this post and you thought… saltwater? Ewwww… well, then you probably aren’t/didn’t.
I am on vacation this week on Cape Cod thanks to the generosity of my sister’s father-in-law and his father (Thanks Bill and Roger!). Four days of toodling around the elbow of Massachusetts, shopping at Cuffy’s for t-shirts, eating tasty seafood, and stopping at roadside stands that sell only Saltwater Taffy.
The Cape Cod Saltwater Taffy Company in Yarmouth is one such place. From the road it looks like a farm stand, and passerby might reasonably be tempted to see what fruits and veggies are on display… only to find bin after bin of delicious, hand-pulled saltwater taffy in a variety of flavors.
Now made with more Cape Cod!
Despite its name, saltwater taffy is something of a misnomer… yes, friends, I am sad to report that it does not contain saltwater as such. Does it have salt? Yes. Does it have water? Yes. But nobody goes into the ocean and brings back buckets o’salty seawater to make these delectable goodies.
Taffy, in its purest form, is made from sugar or molasses and butter. It is boiled together, cooled (usually on a giant slab of marble), and then pulled by hand over large hooks. This last step is what adds air to the candy and makes it chewy and delicious. Taffy has been a popular candy since the late 1800’s, but sometime in the 1930’s a few guys in Atlantic City tweaked the recipe to make it less sticky, packaged it in cute boxes, and made a killing.
You heard ’em right
So why is it called saltwater taffy if it’s not made with saltwater? No one really knows. The true origins of the name have been lost to history, although a quick internet search will lead you to a few of the more popular theories, including one of a candy maker whose store was flooded by ocean water.
At any rate, the fine people of the Cape Cod Saltwater Taffy Company have taken this simple boiled confection and elevated it to an art-form, with 30 flavors of taffy available at any given time. (Dear Friends who do NOT live in New England: Go to their website; they ship!). The taffy is just about perfect– sweet and chewy, with a distinctly salty finish that rounds is all out. My favorite flavor has been Molasses ever since I can remember. I will occasionally stray and try other flavors, but the majority of my bag is filled with the sweet, rich taste of molasses. My sister can’t live without Peanut Butter taffy, although this week she discovered Fluffernutter– a mix of peanut butter and vanilla that just might usurp the old standard. Everyone has a favorite, and they’re all good.
If you’re in the Cape Cod area, I highly recommend that you make the stop in Yarmouth and fill up a box of these candies for the rest of your ride. Don’t be seduced by the fancy candy shop across the street: go to the little farm stand and dive into these seaside treats.
After all, has there ever been a more perfect pairing than salty and sweet?