With a history that spans back for centuries, the taffy is a candy that contains two of the flavors that are most basic: fat (usually butter, but sometimes they use vegetable oil instead) and sugar.
Mixing the butter and the sugar aren’t the only things you need to do, if you want to make taffy. These ingredients should be boiled together, making a sticky and thick mass. After that mass of butter and sugar is created, you have to stretch it and pull it for a long period of time. In the past, this mass would’ve been stretched manually, an activity that took hours. These days, a special taffy machine is used to pull it. This machine has three bars, which spin around, pulling the taffy candy. Since the taffy is pulled automatically, a lot of effort and time is saved, so more taffy is produced, at a lower cost. Some candy shops have these machines, so you might’ve seen them at some point, while you walked past these stores.
Salt water taffy is something that you probably heard about. The origin of this type of taffy is the city of Atlantic City, from New Jersey. Despite its name, and of what most people believe, this type of taffy doesn’t have salt water in it.
There are a number of stories that try to explain why salt water taffy has this name. A story that is popular, tells how Bradley David, a store owner, had a flood in his building. As a result, all his normal taffy got soaked by the water from the ocean. A customer came inside later and asked for taffy. Bradley answered that he only had some salt water taffy. It sounded good to the client, so he bought it anyway. The name remained in use ever since. Whether the story is true or not is not known, but it’s a nice little story.
These days, taffy is made out of butter, corn syrup and glycerin, but a few of the commercial brands prefer to use palm oil, replacing the butter with it. Laffy Taffy and Airheads are two of these companies that don’t use butter.
You will not find taffy outside the US, at least not easy. While similar candy might exist in other candies, they will have names like Now and Later, Chewits or Starburst, and not taffy.
Airhead is a taffy variety that is very popular. You can make a nice trick with them that I’m going to explain here. You might’ve noticed that the Airhead taffy comes in a paper sleeve made out of cellophane. While it’s unopened, pinch the end of the cellophane sleeve, while you’re flapping the candy. Do the motion, up and down, and you will notice that the Airhead taffy gets smaller. It will continue to get smaller, and as it does this, you might want to move the hand on the wrapper, so a bit of tension is maintained between the candy and the fingers. If you continue to do this movement, in the end you will get a substance that looks like flour, all gathered inside the wrapper.
There are a number of different types of taffy available, like salt water taffy, apple taffy, Turkish taffy and a few others. Usually, home made taffy is used with different methods than commercially available varieties.