By Lauren Wanko
There are lots of sweet things about the Jersey Shore. Some folks in Ocean City insist the sweetest is salt water taffy.
“Well you know it really is chewy and it lasts a while so it’s a good treat,” said Judy Misner of Pemberton.
“Oh, I love salt water taffy,” said Curtis Glenn of Philadelphia. “I guess it’s the taste, the texture, the fact that it’s made here in New Jersey.”
Shriver’s Salt Water Taffy General Manager Holly Kisby said, “You can’t really get good, really good, salt water taffy anywhere else but the shore.”
Shriver’s, established in 1898, is the oldest candy store on Ocean City’s boardwalk. During the summer they sell more than 2,000 pounds of taffy a day and they just expanded their store to make room for the 70 different flavors.
“I love the flavors. They got so many flavors I just like to try them all,” said Valerie Dougherty of Philadelphia.
The taffy’s cooked in a kettle. Shriver’s won’t reveal the secret recipe, but sugar is the main ingredient. It’s stored overnight. Then it’s transferred to a cooling table in the factory. A Shriver employee, called a “puller,” places the taffy onto a puller machine. T hat stretches the candy. This is also where the flavor’s added. Next, the 100-pound piece of taffy is put back on the cooling table to shape. Then it’s loaded onto the taffy machine. A batch roller shapes the taffy. It’s pulled through the machine and transformed into its well-known size. The machine then pokes little holes into the taffy to pull and pop air bubbles. Then it’s cut, wrapped and sealed. The machine spits out 300 pieces of taffy a minute. Customers can watch all this from behind a window in the store.
“I think for me it’s the memory of it. It’s just the memory of something so innocent and so pure as candy. And you actually get to see it made. There’s so many things you eat you never get to see made,” said Cathy Appert of Robbinsville.
Despite the name, Shriver’s salt water taffy isn’t made with any salt.
“It actually came from a man with the name Bradley from Atlantic City, who had a little stand on the beach and the tide came up one day and ruined his stand and all of his candy had salt water from the ocean in it and a little girl came along and called it salt water taffy and the name stuck ever since,” explained Kisby.
It’s that piece of history that’s so appealing to Philadelphia resident Curtis Glenn.
“That’s a bygone era. You can capture it still today,” Glenn said.
For customers, a visit to the candy store has become a Jersey Shore tradition that keeps getting sweeter.