Other Scottish Country Dances for this Day
Today's Musings, History & Folklore
"When Girl Scouts founder Juliette Gordon Low was 10-years-old, she and her family had an old fashioned taffy pull, making molasses taffy at home. As they worked on pulling the taffy, which aerates it and makes it softer, one of the young boys participating noticed that the molasses taffy and Juliette's hair had the same pretty, dark chestnut color in common. He convinced her to let him braid some of the taffy into her long locks. When the taffy and Juliette's hair refused to let go of one another, she was soon sporting a fashionable new short haircut!"
A taffy pull is a favourite vintage pastime, making use of the fact that boiled and pulled sugar and corn syrup will change its nature to form long strands if stretched and manipulated enough. The name "taffy" began to appear in the early 1800s in the United States and by 1887 a recipe for Molasses Taffy appeared in the official White House cookbook in the administration of Grover Cleveland! As the taffy's dark molasses color lightens when continually pulled to beautiful dark and golden shades, people would often complement a young lady's hair color by likening it to the color of "molasses taffy." Another traditional American treat, salt-water taffy, often found in candy shops by the seashore, contains neither salt nor ocean-water, and is a molasses-free variation. Candy lore has it that in 1883, a storm hit Atlantic City off the New Jersey coast. The boardwalk at the time was small and low and several business were flooded by the waves with sea water, including a candy shop owned by David Bradley. Later after the storm, a young girl came into the shop to buy some taffy, Bradley jokingly told her all he had was “salt-water taffy.” Allegedly, this term was picked up by other vendors in Atlantic City, and then borrowed by candy makers in other coastal towns from Florida to Massachusetts. By the 1920s, "salt-water" taffy had become a candy store staple on both the Atlantic and Pacific coastlines, and today, can be found in old-fashioned candy shop! 🍬🍭🏖️ ☀️
The Taffy Strathspey
Taffy is made by stretching or pulling a sticky mass of boiled sugar, butter or vegetable oil, flavorings, and coloring until it becomes aerated, light, and fluffy and chewy candy. Now it is usually fruit-flavoured, but other flavors are common as well, including traditional molasses.
An old fashioned pastime for parties was the Taffy Pull. And in Quebec, a taffy variety, St. Catherine's Taffy, is sometimes made by girls in Quebec to honour St. Catherine, the patron saint of unmarried women on her feast day, November 25. St. Catherine's day is sometimes known in Quebec as "taffy day," a day when marriage-age girls would make taffy for eligible boys.
For a St. Catherine's (molasses) taffy recipe, click the vintage drawing of an old fashioned taffy pull.
And for a fascinating explanation of the mathematics of taffy pulling machines, click here.