What Salt Water Taffy Is Really Made With

If you're taking a trip to Atlantic City, you probably shouldn't tell anyone about it unless you plan on bringing back a box from the Boardwalk brimming with sweet, colorful, salt water taffy to share. The candy has been synonymous with the city since as early as the 1880s, according to Food52 – and it may also have been around this time that a popular legend cropped up about its origins that has since mislead candy fans about the sweet treat's roots.

As Bulk Candy Store tells it, the urban legend is that a storm supposedly flooded David Bradley's Atlantic City candy store in 1883. After his regular taffy was drenched with ocean water — as the story goes — a young girl came into the shop looking for the treat, and as a joke, he offered her some "salt water taffy," and the name stuck. But, if you have never detected an ocean-y taste in this popular treat that today extends well beyond the seaside, you're not alone. In fact, salt water taffy is not made of salt water at all.

The ingredients are pretty similar to most candies

Those giftable boxes of saltwater taffy couldn't exist without several ingredients and a particular pulling process that has become its trademark. According to Bulk Candy Store, the sought-after souvenirs are made of sugar, cornstarch, corn syrup, glycerine, water, butter, salt, flavor, and food coloring. So, although both salt and water are individual parts of the recipe, salt water is not.

The outlet also explains that watching the taffy get made by hand on the Boardwalk was part of the original appeal of the treat. This was done originally by human pullers that would work the taffy into a five-foot length, and loop it over itself on a hook (this would add aeration to the corn syrup and sugar, resulting in the soft, chewy texture). Then, the pullers would hand-roll the taffy, cut it into two-inch long pieces, and wrap it in wax paper.

Today, most candy stores have replaced the human element with candy pulling machines, and the task of wrapping has been delegated to another mechanical process. But one thing that hasn't changed — just how much people still love salt water taffy!