Fralinger's Salt Water Taffy
Joseph Fralinger — The King of Salt Water Taffy
With its charming lure and the ability to engrain lifelong memories into the minds of its past and present visitors, Atlantic City has undoubtedly left its mark on many. For those who visited the Steel Pier as a child, you may remember sitting in the wooden stands on the edge of your seat waiting for the "world-famous" diving horse to take its plunge. Or maybe you remember how the boardwalk was just a little more magical at night when the luminescent signs turned on for each shop and attraction.
Nonetheless, you probably wanted something to take home to remind you of your time on the boardwalk and if you ever took home a box of your favorite candy, you can thank Joseph Fralinger.
Fralinger, raised by his uncle, was introduced to the glass blowing industry where he spent sixteen years working until unfortunate circumstances forced him to find work as a fish merchant in Philadelphia (an important detail.) Eventually, marriage brought him to Atlantic City where he ran a small concession stand on the boardwalk selling items such as fruits, lemonade, and mineral water to get by.
In 1884 he happened to be in the right place at the right time, where he was given the opportunity to take over a taffy concession stand. After agreeing, he took the entire winter of 1885 studying books on confections and perfecting taffy making, and by the springtime, he made his first batch of salt water taffy to sell. He started with molasses but it wasn’t long after until he had around 25 flavors to offer which was the largest selection of flavors in Atlantic City at the time.
Fralinger earned his name as “the king of salt water taffy” as he pioneered a new way to sell it. His time as a fish merchant inspired him to package an assortment of the taffy into one-pound oyster tins. This became Atlantic City’s first souvenir. He was said to have introduced the boxed souvenir taffy on a Saturday and was completely sold out by Sunday.
Eventually, Fralinger opened up various locations and branched out by selling other sweet treats that were based on family recipes such as center-filled taffy, almond macaroons, peanut butter chews, and more. All of which are still enjoyed and loved by many to this day.