[caption id="attachment_231869" align="aligncenter" width="1200"] Tom Ibach, owner of Dolle's in Rehoboth Beach, has been making the famous saltwater taffy for more than 40 years. | DBT PHOTO BY MARIA DEFORREST[/caption]
MILTON — The Forgrow 44C machine that cuts and wraps long cylinders of Dolle’s famous saltwater taffy was made and brought to Rehoboth Beach in 1954. It survived the Great Storm of 1962, although the ocean floodwaters undercut the former storefront at 1. Rehoboth Ave., weakening the boards and causing the machine to crash into the sand.
[caption id="attachment_231868" align="alignleft" width="300"] This antique Forgrow packaging machine survived the Great Storm of 1962 and has been used for decades in making Dolle's famous Salt Water Taffy. | DBT PHOTO BY MARIA DEFORREST[/caption]
“My grandfather called Melvin Joseph, and he brought a crane to lift it out of the sand,” Dolle’s owner Tom Ibach recalled. “There used to be a gas station nearby, and they took it there and cleaned it off.”That machine and others made it possible to turn 70 pound batches of sugar and corn syrup into boxes of iconic Dolle’s Candy for decades. Only now, the candy is made off the boardwalk and in a nondescript warehouse off Route 1 in Milton.With the start of summer approaching, the Delaware Business Times joined Ibach to get a behind-the-scenes look at how the iconic beach candy is made.To start, pounds upon pounds of sugar and corn syrup are cooked in kettles, usually two flavors at a time, with each batch boiling down for about 12 minutes. From there, the taffy is moved to tables where it cools down from 250 degrees.
[caption id="attachment_231867" align="alignright" width="300"] Dolle's Salt Water Taffy is hand-rolled after cooking to ensure the right consistency. | DBT PHOTO BY MARIA DEFORREST[/caption]
Once the candy is slightly cool but still malleable, it gets poured into a tray and put in a refrigerator. Ibach later puts the candy into a high-speed infrared cooker to warm it, not so long to make sugar crystals appear and give it a grainy texture, but long enough to be pulled. He folds the candy by hand on the table, making sure it’s uniform in shape and texture before putting it on the puller.The taffy puller has dowels that rotate in an elliptical orbit, folding the taffy into its silky texture. Ibach adds each of the taffy’s flavors from concentrate while the machine is runningFrom there, the taffy is fed into the rollers — a machine made in 1974 — to be worked into a long cylinder shape by the wheels. Ibach pokes it with a rod to ensure no air bubbles appear while the thick candy tapers out. Meanwhile, sizing wheels make it a little thinner and rounder until it coils out like a snake. From there, the Forgrow 44C machine cuts and wraps the iconic Dolle’s taffy in the wax paper that have littered kitchen tables for generations.
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