By KRISTIN FARLEY 6 News Anchor/Reporter
GATLINBURG (WATE) - The art of making real taffy dates back to 1800s, but today you can watch it being cooked, pulled, and rolled out right in our backyard.
Thousands of pieces of taffy are made every day in Dollywood's Sweet Shop.
With demonstrations and free samples, the shop is a real treat for your eyes and your taste buds.
It starts in a giant kettle, where corn syrup, sugar and butter bubble up to nearly 250 degrees. Then a touch of gelatin and flavoring are added.
Next the hot liquid is poured onto a cooling table that has ice cold water running underneath the surface.
The surface, along with constantly folding the taffy, helps to cool and prepare it to go on the popular pulling machine.
"That's what they want to see," said Sweet Shop worker Linda Rice. "They ask 'When are you going to put it on the puller? When are you going to put it on the puller?'"
The taffy stays on the puller for about eight minutes, infusing it with air to give the taffy its chewy texture.
"You can see it start changing color immediately and it starts getting air into it," Rice explained.
Taffy can be pulled by hand, but at Dollywood they produce four to five batches a day. That equals thousands of pieces of taffy, so the puller comes in handy.
Some of the work still needs to be done by hand, like rolling in the flavor centers, like the strawberry and blueberry centers in the cheesecake base.
While the taffy is being made, workers take pride in handing out samples knowing they have a hand in making a quality treat.
"[Some stores] put a lot of preservatives in the taffy they make and we don't," Rice said. "We use all natural stuff in ours."
Some of the taffy flavors are seasonal favorites, so there's no knowing how long they will last.
While many people call it saltwater taffy, taffy is not made with salt water. Many believe the name is just a name that came from a boardwalk vendor in Atlantic City decades ago.