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I wrote this piece, about spontaneously spending el Día de los Muertos with a family in Oaxaca, several years ago; it’s based on an experience...
What: This soft, chewy pulled taffy, always wrapped in wax paper and usually boxed as a souvenir, hails from Atlantic City, but is found all over the Jersey Shore, particularly on the boardwalks. It’s made of sugar, corn syrup, butter, cream, flavoring, and few other things—but no salt water. Legend has it that a boardwalk peddler’s candy store was flooded by ocean water one day in the late 1880s, and when a child came in asking for taffy, said peddler joked that what he had was “saltwater taffy.” Like taffy to teeth, the name stuck.
Where: At the risk of offending any taffy aficionados out there, taffy on the Shore tastes the same just about anywhere…but fresh is best, so get yours from a place that makes its own. We got ours from the century-old Berkeley Sweet Shoppe (multiple locations near south end of boardwalk, including 2 Boardwalk) in Seaside Heights.
When: Summer: daily, 10:00am-10:00pm. Winter: daily, 10:00am-5:00pm
Order: Pick up a one-pound box of saltwater taffy ($8.95)—or buy individual taffy flavors out of jars—and any other confections (chocolate-covered taffy, anyone?) that grab your attention here: They’re all homemade in the shop, so you can’t go wrong. The taffy is soft and smooth, fun to snack on. Flavors here include vanilla, chocolate, raspberry, peppermint, lemon, root beer, and peanut butter, among others.
Alternatively: In Atlantic City and Ocean City, you can still get your taffy from the source: The families of onetime taffy competitors Enoch James and Joseph Fralinger, the two men credited with making saltwater taffy big, have joined forces to run the James Candy Company (multiple locations, including 1519 Boardwalk in AC, map). Though the name seems rather one-sided, boxes of both Fralinger’s and James’ saltwater taffy are produced and sold here…do we smell a future taffy taste-off?
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