June 16th, 2014 was a monumental day for New Jersey, for that was the day a bill was approved to make salt water taffy the state’s official candy.
The legislation was proposed by a group of 70 fifth grade students from Samsel Upper Elementary School in Sayreville, NJ who were inspired by a presentation made to them by State Assemblyman John Wisniewski (D-Sayreville) about how a bill becomes a law (CBS). Said Wisniewski, “I commend the Samsel Upper Elementary School students for the creative way they have taken their civics lesson and made it real with their suggestion to introduce this bill.” (Cape May County Herald). The bill passed by a vote of 61-7-9 (Cape May County Herald).
The fact that a group of middle-schoolers could get a law passed is a testament to the power of collective resolve and ambition. Even more inspiring, however, is the reason behind these budding activists’ movement. Tyler Graham, a student at Samsel Upper Elementary, suggested that declaring a state candy would attract tourists back to New Jersey’s boardwalks, many of which are still reeling from the effects of Superstorm Sandy. We happen to agree.
Indeed, salt water taffy and New Jersey beaches go way back. The chewy treat was allegedly born after a storm caused flood damage to a beach town candy store, contaminating the taffy supply with salt water. The owner sold his taffy to a curious customer, and the rest, as they say, is history (CBS). How poetic it is that a piece of New Jersey’s past may be the key to helping it rebuild its future.
Although this may seem to be an unconventional order of business for lawmakers, it is not the first time that an official state candy has been proposed. In 2008, Representative Mike Armstrong of Washington presented a piece of legislation which would declare Aplets and Cotlets, an apple and walnut treat resembling Turkish Delight, as the state candy of Washington. Ironically, Rep. Armstrong was also presented on behalf of a group of middle-schoolers. Aplets and Cotlets are produced by Liberty Orchards in Cashmere, WA, and are regarded by locals as a symbol of American values. However, Rep. Armstrong’s proposition was met with much resistance by fans of Almond Roca, another confectionary favorite of Washingtonians which itself was nominated as the official state candy back in 2001 (The Seattle Times, Video). To date, Aplets and Cotlets are not a Washington state symbol (Washington State Legislator).
It would appear that even candy can be a topic of vigorous debate among legislators. Our applause to New Jersey for passing the state candy bill and making the U.S. sweeter one state at a time. We hope other states get on board soon. What would be the official state candy where you are from? Comment below!
(2009). House State Government & Tribal Affairs Committee. Retrieved JUly 24, 2014 from http://www.tvw.org/index.phpoption=com_tvwplayer&eventID=2009010123
Assembly Passes Bill to Make Salt Water Taffy New Jersey’s State Candy. (2014, June17).Cape May County Herald .
N.J. State Assembly Approves Bill To Make Salt Water Taffy Official State Candy – CBS NewYork. (2014). CBS New York. Retrieved July 24, 2014, from http://newyork.cbslocal.com/2014/06/16/n-j-state-assembly-approves-bill-to-make-salt-water-taffy-official-state-candy/ater-taffy-official-state-candy/
State Symbols . (n.d.). default. Retrieved July 24, 2014, from http://www.leg.wa.gov/symbols/pages/default.aspx
Washington state candy: a sweet battle over fruits and nuts. (2008, December 31). The Seattle Times.