Thursday, April 16, 2009

The Original Salt Water Taffy ???

The story of the creation of saltwater taffy is legend in New Jersey.  A candy merchant, David Bradley, forgot to cover his Atlantic City boardwalk cart one summer evening in 1880 when a summer storm covered his sweet treats with ocean waves.  The next morning Bradley was cleaning up the mess when a pretty little girl said, " Mr. do you have any taffy, " a frustrated Bradley in a sarcastic tone replied, " you mean my saltwater Taffy. " My favorite version states that Bradley's mother. and or his sister, heard the little girl telling friends on the beach that her taffy was " was saltwater taffy," and an industry was born. 

The saltwater gimmick had wings though David Bradley did not. He disappeared into the history books. I say gimmick because we all know there is no saltwater in saltwater taffy.. don't we :)

The industry really took off when two different young entrepreneurs, one a local from Atlantic City; Joseph Fralinger, and another, a transplant from the Midwest, Enoch James, went head to head manufacturing, selling and both claiming that their taffy was the "original." This was a big boardwalk business and these two guys and their heirs went at it for over a century. 

BTW..the real innovation besides the name was the packaging of taffy in souvenir boxes for tourists to mail or take home.  Before that taffy and other candies were sold loose and packaged in bags. The success was in the variety and the packaging.

By the early 1920's both Fralinger and James had hundreds of competitors though the two companies held most of the market share. Each has a few secret flavors and just like Ford and Chevrolet some families were Fralinger's  families and others were James.  The battle went to the high court of NJ where they ruled that no company out of the hundreds could make exclusive claim that they were '"the original ." As you can see by this beautiful Fralingers brochure both companies still used the "original" word by trademarking stylized logos that included it. They could just not claim to be the only.
Where does the battle stand now?  Well when I began to research Boardwalk Memories, Tales of The Jersey Shore..I interviewed the owner of both companies. If you can beat them..join them


  1. As a child growing up in Atlantic city Fralingers was known to be the original, but I prefered James. Probably because of the shape of the taffy. Both tasted the same.

  2. I'll bet these guys are very good at what they do. I only hope that Carousel Taffy ( will become so popular.