I’ll say it right up front: I have never in my umpty-ump years pulled taffy. But now that I’ve researched taffy-making, I’m ready to give it a try. If fictional Miriam Josefsohn can pull taffy under the guidance of fictional Mrs. Jenkins, than why can’t I?
Taffy (or toffee) has been around since at least the 1800s. The Oxford English Dictionary of 1817 mentions taffy as treacle made into hard cakes. Treacle, which is basically the syrupy substance that is a by-product of refining sugar, has been around since at least medieval times.
Pulling is what keeps taffy from turning into those “hard cakes,” by making the concoction elastic as it cools. Physics plus chemistry equals yum. Pulling taffy became a social event in the U.S., when dating was a sticky business (although I suppose dating has always been sticky). Here’s a recipe for taffy from the Washington Women’s Cook Book, printed in 1909 and sold to support the voting rights campaign for women in Washington State. There are lots of modern recipes for taffy, all about the same.
Tea Garden Drips? That was a syrup popular in the Pacific Northwest. Click here to a see short (ad-free!) video of taffy made on a hundred-year-old machine in Maine. Yes, it’s salt water taffy, which is a variation on the theme and deserves a blog post of its own. Enjoy. Click here for more recipes through the Just For Fun page.