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  • Medha Imam: Saltwater taffy is synonymous to summer days,

  • and this chewy, soft candy is the pride of Jersey Shore.

  • We're headed to Ocean City, New Jersey,

  • to see how this treat is made.

  • Jersey Shore may have a bad rep,

  • but its most redeeming quality is quite possibly

  • its saltwater taffy.

  • It's an old-school carnival snack

  • that became popular in the late 1800s.

  • Recipes that combined molasses or sugar, water, and butter

  • were transformed into gummy ropes

  • that were pulled by partners at each end.

  • Founded in 1898, Shriver's Salt Water Taffy

  • is the oldest business on the boardwalk in Ocean City.

  • Meryl: This is the taffy-cooking machine.

  • I wish it had a more glamorous name, but it doesn't.

  • Medha: Candymakers add ingredients

  • such as invert sugar, corn syrup,

  • and fats like butter to a copper kettle

  • and cook them at a temperature of 250 degrees.

  • Medha: Once the mixture is warm enough,

  • it is sucked through a pipe and dropped into a lower bin.

  • Meryl: Our saltwater taffy comes in three different bases.

  • One's chocolate; molasses will make peanut butter;

  • and our plain flavors are the big array.

  • Orange, grape, banana.

  • When saltwater taffy is poured from the cooking machine,

  • we would never be able to touch it like this.

  • Medha: No. Meryl: It would burn us.

  • Medha: To keep the taffy soft,

  • it's moved to a hotbox.

  • You think that this is a fridge,

  • but it's actually just, like, a warm, cozy sauna.

  • Meryl: This is where we keep the taffy

  • after we cook it.

  • If we didn't keep it warm, it would turn into a brick.

  • Medha: Oh, wow.

  • So, right now, what temperatures are we at?

  • Meryl: We're about at 95.

  • Medha: And what does it feel like right now?

  • Oh, wow.

  • It's very soft.

  • Once the taffy is set,

  • candymakers dump it onto a cooling table

  • and knead out any air bubbles.

  • Oh, it's so pretty.

  • Meryl: This is a cooling table.

  • It's filled with cold water,

  • and the taffy is warm,

  • so it helps the taffy

  • to cool off before we pull it.

  • You know, it's sticky right now.

  • If you were to put this in your mouth,

  • it would stick to your teeth.

  • Medha: And is this a process

  • that people have used in the past?

  • The technique of having cold water running tables?

  • Meryl: Absolutely, yeah.

  • Medha: Next, candymakers like Meryl

  • add citric acid to taffies that are fruit flavored.

  • So, citric acid.

  • Why is that important to put in for the lime flavor?

  • Meryl: Because it gives us the little tartness

  • that you would get if you were eating a lime.

  • And then we just kind of

  • fold it over, Medha: I'll help you.

  • and it settles into itself.

  • The machine operator,

  • they have a particular feel for when it's ready.

  • Medha: So this is the color, not the flavor?

  • Meryl: This is just the color.

  • Medha: And why don't you add the flavor

  • on this stuff, and why just the color?

  • Meryl: Because the process of pulling it

  • allows the flavor to spread more consistently

  • throughout the piece of taffy.

  • So, you need to have some muscle

  • to work this job a little,

  • just to make it consistent.

  • They'll take the piece, and they'll flip it.

  • Medha: Oh, my God.

  • Meryl: So, this is 50 pounds.

  • Medha: Do you mind if I try this one?

  • Should I turn this one over?

  • [yells]

  • [laughs]

  • This is a battle between taffy and me,

  • and I have lost.

  • Show them what you do,

  • and then show them β€” look how β€”

  • he just does it so quick.

  • Casual. Just casual.

  • Now for the most important part: the taffy pulling.

  • Historically, candymakers would pull the taffy

  • by hand with the assistance of a hook.

  • These days, the taffy is stretched with machines.

  • Meryl: This process is also adding air

  • to the saltwater taffy,

  • and he's adding the flavor right now.

  • Medha: What flavor is that?

  • Meryl: That's going to be strawberry.

  • And as you can see,

  • it really allows for the flavor to get mixed in.

  • It really looks like something

  • you just want to pull off and eat.

  • Medha: And I can already smell the lime flavor.

  • After the taffy is pulled,

  • it's headed for a batch roller.

  • Here, the taffy is elongated and rolled into a log.

  • OK. Speed walk? OK. Speed walk,

  • speed walk, speed walk, speed walk, speed walk!

  • Meryl: So, we're just taking the air bubbles

  • out of the piece of taffy.

  • You kind of have to be quick about it.

  • Medha: OK, that looks much harder than you make it seem.

  • This is actually pretty difficult

  • 'cause the tool itself is sticking into the taffy.

  • It's still chewy and sticky,

  • you can tell,

  • but it is a little harder than it was on that table.

  • Four mechanical rollers called sizers size the candy

  • down to get the rope of candy to a certain diameter.

  • The taffy tapers down through a second set of sizers

  • until it resembles a snake.

  • The machine at Shriver's can cut, wrap,

  • and seal about 300 to 400 pieces of taffy per minute.

  • Meryl: There's actually fingers

  • that are closing the piece of taffy.

  • Medha: Oh, right there! Right there, right there!

  • The inner layer surrounding the taffy

  • must be wax paper to maintain its soft texture

  • and deter the candy from sticking together.

  • Do you mind if I untwist this?

  • Meryl: No, but you have to do it the right way.

  • Medha: How do you do it the right way?

  • Meryl: OK. So the right way to open a piece of taffy

  • is to pull both sides.

  • There you go.

  • And then we get β€”

  • that's what we're looking for with a piece of taffy.

  • Medha: Oh, amazing.

  • So, you may be wondering,

  • why the heck is it called saltwater taffy

  • if there's no salt?

  • The story goes like this.

  • There was a man named Mr. Bradley

  • who sold taffy from a stand on a beach.

  • One evening, the water came up and washed over his taffy.

  • He thought his taffy was ruined,

  • but a little girl approached him and asked

  • if she could have a piece of his saltwater taffy.

  • And since then, the name stuck.

  • Shriver's Salt Water Taffy went from having 17 flavors

  • to 60 flavors in the summertime,

  • which is their busiest season.

  • So every single day

  • you're going to get a fresh piece of taffy?

  • Meryl: Every single day we are making fresh taffy.

  • Medha: What's your favorite?

  • Meryl: My personal favorite? Medha: Yeah.

  • Meryl: They're all my favorite.

  • Medha: They're all? You don't have one?

  • Meryl: I have one that I'm not crazy about,

  • but that's just because I'm not crazy about that flavor.

  • Medha: Which one? Meryl: I can't tell you.

  • Medha: Is it grape?

  • Meryl: Absolutely not! Everybody loves grape.

  • Medha: Oh, wait, I hate grape, so.

  • Meryl: OK, so that's your one

  • that you're taking off the list?

  • Medha: Sour apple, bubblegum.

  • I don't know which one I want the most.

  • Meryl: That's the whole idea, right?

  • Medha: Yeah. I feel like I want them all.

  • All right. So I'm going to take your recommendations.

  • I've never had saltwater taffy.