One Saturday during the winter, a long, long time ago, a bunch of friends came to our house for some fun. For reasons I can’t recall, we had decided we were going to have a taffy pull.
None of us knew, exactly, what a taffy pull was, but we’d heard stories from long ago — even longer ago than when this event took place — and it sounded like fun. My long-suffering parents agreed to host, and my brave mother said she’d make a large batch of taffy. Taffy-making is a very precise process and if not cooked long enough, or too long, it’s ruined.
The kids arrived sometime after lunch, and the house was soon full of coats and boots and noisy teens. Pretty soon Mom started cooking and her pot of sugar and corn syrup and butter came to a boil. I think everybody took a turn peeking into the pot, which must have driven her a bit crazy, but before long she began dropping bits of syrup into a cold glass of water to check if a hard ball was formed. Everyone had an opinion about that, but at last my mother announced that it was ready. Word spread through the house and everyone hurried to the kitchen. The syrup was poured from the pot into thick puddles on greased plates and pans to cool and set up, and while it did, everyone washed and then buttered their hands so the hot candy wouldn’t stick.
After the taffy cooled a little, Mom recruited a volunteer and showed us what to do. She took a lump of gooey taffy and rolled it into a small log, then they each took hold of an end and started to pull. Gradually the log became a droopy rope which was folded back on itself and pulled again, folded back, and pulled. Then everyone wanted to try it themselves so pieces of sticky candy were doled out and people started pulling. The house was filled with sounds of exclamation and calls to see how long the candy ropes had become when, above the hubbub, there was a shout from downstairs.
“Hey, you guys! Look at this. Hurry! Hurry!”
Everyone went running to the basement rec room. There, several ingenious people had decided to pool their taffy into one large lump, then each of them took a side of the lump and started pulling. As you can see, what resulted was truly amazing. The large sheet of candy was admired for a moment and then everyone decided to get in on the action. Groups of three or four joined their bits of taffy together and every started to make the large sheets.
I don’t remember how it all ended, except as the candy cooled and hardened we did manage to pull it into ropes then cut it into bite-sized pieces. I also don’t remember if there was enough left to cool into hard pieces or whether we ate it all when it was still a bit sticky. I do remember that we had a great afternoon.
Over the years my sisters and I must have told our children about those big sheets of taffy because a few years ago they decided they’d like to give it a try. Once again Mom, now Grandma, made the candy, but this time the grandchildren were the ones anxiously waiting for it to be ready. And just like the story we told, we tried pulling that taffy into sheets too.
Here’s a page out of my photo album. Looks like we had fun, doesn’t it?
1 c. honey or corn syrup
1 c. sugar
1/8 tsp. salt
1 Tbsp. butter
Combine ingredients and cook until syrup forms a hard ball when dropped in cold water. (265 degrees on a candy thermometer)
Pour onto buttered plates and cool until it can be pulled.
Butter hands slightly and pull until stiff. Cut into pieces.