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Taffy returns to Snoqualmie

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SNOQUALMIE _ Taffy is back in town at the Snoqualmie Falls

Candy Factory on Railroad Avenue.

Many people love to watch the taffy being made _ the brightly

colored candy seems to defy gravity as it flip-flops on the machine. And

after watching it being stretched and pulled, it's satisfying to chew on the end

result, a sweet little chunk of taffy.

Candy Factory owners Wes and Sharon Sorstokke have owned

the business for almost three years and had been getting their taffy from

another supplier. But that supplier stopped making taffy this year, so

the couple decided to start making the candy themselves.

"We were making taffy when we first bought the place, but the

machine developed a temper and we got so busy with caramel corn and peanut

brittle. So it was easier to just buy the taffy from someone else," Wes

Sorstokke said. "Making taffy again has

become a very positive thing."

Fortunately, they already have a secret weapon in taffy making,

employee "Candy Master" Cam tu Pham. The candy connoisseur prefers to

go by his first name and has worked in the candy industry for more than

20 years. And according to fellow employee Mary Ann Custode, Cam is

an expert in candy-making techniques and often doesn't even have to look

at a recipe.

Cam and Wes Sorstokke are responsible for making the taffy, and

for that, they use an antique.

The Candy Factory's taffy machine is called a Model K and

was made around 1910. The Model K turns out about 100 ready-to-eat pieces

per minute and has been in the store since previous owner Paul LaFranchi ran

his candy shop, also called Snoqualmie Falls Candy Factory. Over the

years, the store has also been a soda shop and a Coast to Coast hardware store.

Besides leaving the Model K and the store's name, LaFranchi

also passed on his family recipes, which dated back several generations to

his candy-maker relatives in San Francisco.

Wes Sorstokke and Cam altered the taffy recipe to get a soft

consistency that customers like.

The Candy Factory currently makes about 30 flavors of taffy,

with the goal of 44, to fill all of their taffy bins. Black licorice, watermelon

and cinnamon taffy flavors are adult favorites, while kids prefer cotton

candy, tutti-frutti and bubble gum, Custode said.

The process of making taffy takes more than two hours for a

110-pound batch, which is split into three

flavors. Taffy starts out as a mix of sugars, cornstarch, flavors and colors and

is cooked in a huge copper pot.

After it's cooked, the taffy cools and is stretched on a pulling machine

and then formed into a 35-pound mound. The mound is pulled out by hand

to form a rope about thumb's width and fed into the wrapper, which cuts

and wraps the taffy into individual pieces.

Sharon Sorstokke said over the years the chewy candy has become

known as "saltwater" taffy even though there's no salt water in the recipe.

"The name came from the Jersey coast years and years ago when

a candy store that made taffy was flooded. And since ocean water

came into the store, they started calling it "saltwater" taffy. It has nothing to

do with salt water, it's just a funny name that stuck," she said.

The Candy Factory also sells their taffy at Made in Washington

stores, and to Wes Sorstokke's knowledge, they are the only business in the

state that makes taffy.

"Lots of people who make and sell gift baskets love our candy because

it's made locally and it's fresh," Custode added.

To find out when taffy is being made, call Snoqualmie Falls

Candy Factory at (425) 888-0439.

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