You gotta wonder at the name — did sailors pull taffy when they weren’t trimming sails? Whatever its origins, saltwater taffy can be found on every seaside sidewalk, boardwalk, arcade, and causeway, in glass jars big enough to stick your head — I mean hand — into.
As a western NC child, I didn’t discover this nugget of gummy goodness until age 12, at Dee Gee’s in Morehead City, and to this day, I bypass the wax-paper-wrapped whites and browns for the sticky squares of yellow and pink and lilac and green pastels.
And while there’s nothing salty about the sugary taste, the taffy texture is just right for pressing flat to your palate or back against your molars. ’Cause whatever your age, unwrapping a piece of saltwater taffy days, weeks, or even months after that last day of vacation will take you right back to sandcastles, shrimp, and sea breezes.