How a High Tide Put the 'Salt Water' in Taffy

Salty Road's saltwater taffy contains crunchy sea salt but no seawater. Photo © Sarah Kell.
By Annie Quigley Posted July 02, 2015

Everyone knows that there's no actual seawater in saltwater taffy. So where exactly did that name come from? If legend is to be believed, it washed ashore with a high tide.

In this series, we reveal the secrets, histories and quirky bits of trivia behind your favorite foods.

Aside from a gullible few, everyone knows that there's no actual seawater in saltwater taffy. So where exactly did that name come from?

If legend is to be believed, it all started with a very high tide. One stormy night in the 1880s, the ocean swelled over an Atlantic City boardwalk, drenching one candy shop's stock of taffy. When a little girl came in to buy some of the chewy treat the following morning, the shop owner—either sarcastically or good-naturedly—offered her "salt-water taffy." The name stuck.

To this day, saltwater taffy is a boardwalk staple. For more summertime sweets, check out Food & Wine's ultimate candy guide.

Related: America's Best Boardwalks
Candy Remix Recipes
American Seaside Escapes

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