Appears in
Oxford Companion to Sugar and Sweets

By Darra Goldstein

Published 2015

  • About

taffy is a category of chewy candy whose definition is somewhat elastic. What differentiates a taffy from a toffee from a caramel varies from country to country and even from maker to maker. See caramel and toffee. Two criteria are most consistently used to define taffy. One is the absence of dairy ingredients. Whereas toffee and caramel include milk or cream and/or butter, taffy is typically composed primarily of sugar, corn syrup, water, and a stabilizer of some kind, such as starch or gelatin (though, to confuse matters, that stabilizer might be a dairy product). The other, more salient distinguishing characteristic of taffy is the fact that once the ingredients have been combined and cooked, the resulting sweet, sticky mass is pulled repeatedly in order to incorporate air, producing a candy that is lighter in both color and texture, as well as soft and chewy. Taffy also comes with a wider array of ingredients added for flavor and color; popular varieties range from peppermint to chocolate, cherry, lemon and licorice, in assorted pastel shades.