So, funny story I have about taffy. When I was a kid my dad took me to lots of street fairs and other festivals of the like (which may be why I love state and county fairs so much in my adulthood. Anyway.) One time we went to this fair that had a loose gourmet candy stall, with rows upon rows of homemade candies to one’s disposal. Dad gave me a bag and let a nine year old loose in a candy aisle, full of homemade salt water taffies of all flavors and colors. I bought two pounds of taffy that day, and even my dad didn’t think I would have gone that far. (It was his fault. It was a large bag.) So for months afterwards we had taffy pieces sitting in the fridge, individually wrapped in wax paper, and I had to eat them all until I got sick of it and completely swore off taffy forever. 😛 Okay, so that’s not really that great of a story! But it does introduce us to National Taffy Day, a day to remember an innocent childhood full of the chewy, sugary candy, hearkening back to an age when sweets were reserved for the special days, for holiday vacations by the beach and days away from the drudgeries of life to just have fun until the sun went down.
The most popular type of taffy this side of the Atlantic is salt water taffy, a beach-time favorite. It was created not in New York, alas, but Atlantic City, New Jersey, where it became a popular boardwalk treat and a souvenir to bring home to friends. You can still get salt water taffy at our own famous boardwalk here in New York City–Coney Island. Sadly, the only store that still made their own in-house taffy, Philip’s Candy Shop, closed when the city renovated the Coney Island subway stop, much to the sadness of many New Yorkers who remembered the colorful sweet shop on wonderful day trips to the beach. It’s since relocated to Staten Island, but they no longer make their own taffy. (If you’re on the Island, however, it’s still worth a trip for all the nostalgic candies of yore!) The only remaining old-style sweet shop in Coney Island is William’s Candy Shop, next to Nathan’s on Surf Avenue. They don’t make their own taffy there but you can still buy it by the piece or the box, if you want to take some home as a local tourism “souvenir.” It brings me back to an old time when sweets–and hitting the beach, and the two together–were a special treat, one to really get excited over. I suggest all New York parents to take the trip down the F line to William’s Candy Shop to give their kids the same feeling of awe and wonder as you walk around the small shop and pick out your favorite taffy flavors. It’s certainly not a feeling that Dylan’s or the huge candy stores in Times Square will ever give you.
William’s Candy Shop
1318 Surf Ave (between 15th St & Schweikerts Walk), Coney Island
“Today, ”Coney Island Salt Water Taffy” is sold beneath the red-and-white canvas awning of William’s Candy Shoppe at 1318 Surf Avenue. Peter Agripides, manager of the 75-year-old store, said the taffy is actually manufactured in Pennsylvania. ”We probably sell 100 cases a year,” he said.”–The New York Times
Some reviews from Yelp.com:
“It takes a special kind of candy store to outshine a trip to Coney Island, but William’s sure did when I visited recently with a pair of 9-year olds. They were excited at the prospect of getting a sack of penny candy with ~30 varieties to choose from. There were also candy apples and saltwater taffy – the usual seaside confections.”–Jennifer B.
“It still sells all things sugary by the quarter pound, and has such additional treats as super-sized jawbreakers, giant lollipops, candy buttons, and most important, the taffy.”–Lisa Jane C.
Make sure you check out the updated NYC Food Holidays Map to find this most recent holiday!