Sort of…I mean, yes and no. Okay, to clarify a bit, salt water taffy does not contain salt water in the sense that it has water from the ocean or sea. Separately, though, it does typically have among its ingredients, both salt and water. So if that’s the case, where did the name come from then?
The answer to this question isn’t perfectly clear, but there are a couple of legends that might explain its origins.
Legend #1: in 1883, a candy store owner in New Jersey had his supply of taffy drenched in Atlantic Ocean seawater during a major storm. His store was flooded and his stock was soaked. As a result, he started calling his taffy, “salt water taffy.” This according to Jersey Shore folklore.
Legend #2: Not quite as interesting as the first legend, but it has been said the name was simply used as a marketing tactic that was eventually adopted by other merchants and store owners along the Atlantic Seaboard, until “salt water taffy” was ubiquitous. This according to Fast Food and Junk: An Encyclopedia of What We Love to Eat .