Fringe Candy: In Defense of Salt Water Taffy

taffyIt’s been a long while since I’ve done a Fringe Candy post. What I can I say? Nothing like a diabetes diagnosis to make me scale back my enjoyment of sugary goodness. While I still enjoy a bit of the sweet shit from time to time, I won’t lie… some of the joy is gone. So, yeah, it’s been a while.

I honestly wouldn’t be making this post if not for some ignorant click-bait shit that came across my radar yesterday. Please note, I’m only linking out of professional courtesy. Don’t feel obligated to check it out as I will sum up the contents of the short original post over the course of making my defense. And this isn’t the first time I’ve sung the praises of taffy.

It would appear that does an annual map of most popular candy by state. That map is here, and is worth checking out simply by virtue of, hey, data! I won’t pass any judgement on it. I’ve been peripherally aware that this map exists for a few years, but don’t pay much attention to it. I don’t have a ton of interest in what the most popular candies are. I like my fix to come from the margins, as you well know by now. It would appear that where I live, Washington State, is one of three states where salt water taffy tops the list.

The original post points out that the state purchased and consumed 225,000 pounds of  taffy between 2007 and 2018. Not only do they call it an “inferior sweet,” but they go on to disparage Tootsie Pops, candy corn, and candy canes, eschewing them for Reese’s Peanut Butter Cups which are the popular treat in Oregon just to the south. Now, I get the hate for candy corn. I don’t agree with it, but I get it. I’m used to having it disparaged. But I will always respect Tootsie Pops for what they are. And gods help me, I do like candy canes.

Listen. I get that some people are so far up the chocolate industry’s ass that they’ll shit on things like taffy in favor of a handful of garbage Hershey’s Kisses. And yeah, I like peanut butter and chocolate just fine. Not as much as some, but to each their own, right? I get that you might not “get” candy that isn’t chocolate. But why talk shit about salt water taffy?

While the origins of the singular sweet are murky and mired in legend, what we can say with some certainty is that comes from Atlantic City sometime in the early 1920’s. It’s made by repeatedly pulling a mix of boiled sugar, butter/vegetable oil, color, and flavorings, infusing the gooey mass with air to make it softer. If you ever get a chance to watch a taffy pulling machine in action, do it. It’s hypnotic. In fact, here’s a video of it being done in a candy shop in Depoe Bay, Oregon. Look at that shine. Look at that luster! Gah! I’ll be in my bunk!

Seriously, how can you not love that?

There are a few solid reasons taffy is a worthy candy.

Listen. At the end of the day, I don’t give a flying fuck what kind of candy you want to stuff in your gob. But I do hope you make informed choices. And don’t bow to the pressure of some holier than thou git who tries to shame you for your choices. Even if that git is me. Just like what you like, shame free.

After all, it’s just candy.


Now I’m really craving a bag of salt water taffy.


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