The Taffy Shop® - An Estes Park Tradition®

In 1935

Mr Slack officially opened The Taffy Shop®, and the Slack family operated the thriving business for 79 years. The original secret recipe has been the same through five generations of customers. Every day, many of our customers tell us that they have been visiting and buying our taffy since they came the first time with their grandparents, then parents, and are now bringing their children and grandchildren. Our customers loyalty encourages us to maintain a high level of service and quality for them, and many new customers every year.

In 2014, Mrs Lavona Slack (as the sole remaining Slack family member) decided to retire, and selected a local family from several who had expressed an interest in purchasing the store. After transferring the original taffy recipe (which has always been kept in a safe deposit box), and rigorous training, the new family has committed to maintaining the recipes and standards that The Taffy Shop® has built a reputation on, for generations to come. Customers didn't notice any changes in the taffy, but have appreciated the longer store hours and young family members again working behind the counter- much like the early days of the shop. Today, you will find members of the Igel family in the store each day, cooking, selling and operating the business along with a few close staff members. Some remark it's like "Little House on the Prairie" kind of simple, and we're glad to say, that's why we like it so much.

Our Taffy

... is truly a gourmet, handmade product made from scratch in our store: Using the finest ingredients, we begin in the kitchen with a list of the days taffy needs, and from start to finish, our taffy is cooked, pulled, cut and wrapped by hand with personal attention. In all, a 'batch' of taffy takes approximately 2.5 hours to transform from raw ingredients to salable taffy pieces. Don't be fooled by a taffy puller in any store window. Making taffy is an arduous 4 step process:

We start in the kitchen where we:

(1) Mix the finest ingredients from scratch to cook the taffy base, then

(2) Cool the cooked taffy on a refrigerated table until it will hold it's form on the puller, and

(3) On the puller, the taffy is aerated with little bubbles that give it an elastic, chewy texture. Here, color and flavor are added, and the once dense candy will double in size. Each batch pulls for about 15- 20 minutes to add air and lightness to the confection, and is then laid back on the cooling table to become firmer yet, and

salt water taffy puller

(4) After pulling, the taffy is formed into a 'rope' approximately 1" in diameter in order to be fed into the Model K Kiss machine. Called a 'kiss' wrapper because of the shape and size of the taffy piece, our machine has been in continuous service since 1947. In this machine, the taffy is efficiently cut and wrapped, then drops into a bin for hand inspection.

Once cut and wrapped, the candy is inspected and put into the counter bin for sale. If you're lucky, the machine operator will offer a piece of freshly wrapped taffy for you to enjoy. Although a little sticky and sometimes still warm from the kettle, there's nothing like a taste of fresh taffy.

HFCS free candy
gluten free candy

Origin of Salt Water Taffy

Atlantic Coast Candy store owner David Bradley's shop was flooded during a major storm in 1883. As a result of the flood, his entire stock of taffy was soaked with salty Atlantic Ocean water. When a young girl came into his shop and asked if he had any taffy for sale, he is said to have offered some "salt water taffy." At the time it was a joke, because he thought the candy might be ruined, but the girl was delighted. She bought the candy and proudly walked down to the beach to show her friends. Bradley's mother was in the back and heard the exchange. She loved the name, and salt water taffy was born.

So, there is no ocean water in salt water taffy.

' Salt water taffy' refers to a style of making taffy.

Our Store

Our building (c. 1910) was originally home to the Fall River Hand Laundry. The ladies below are standing in what is now our showroom area, with the photographer standing in or near the current front door. The lighter upper wall is now concealed by the suspended ceiling, which was installed at the lower edge of the light area. Original light fixture bases and paint are still visible above the suspended ceiling.

Estes Park Colorado downtown history The Taffy Shop

After the laundry service, Jes Poling's Electric Whirlpool Appliance Store moved in. In the picture below, look closely in the window of the business with the 'Curios' sign, to the left of the Whirlpool store for the 'TAFFY" sign.There is one taffy sign in the window, and a projecting sign.

That is the Pueblo Building, which was the first home of The Taffy Shop® in 1934, when Lowell Slack first sold his Estes Park Salt Water Taffy® candy recipe.

In the same picture, the Sherwood Hotel looms over the store to the East (right). When it burned down in 1956, appliance store owner Jes Poling jumped on the opportunity to build his new appliance store in the former location of the hotel (today this building is the Ore Cart Rock Shop). Also take note of the photographers stamp "Clatworthy", a popular local studio in the early days of Estes Park.

The Taffy Shop history

Another 'Clatworthy' photo below taken facing West, of the appliance store just before the big fire that would result in a new retail space that Lowell Slack would rent from the building owner, Charlie Hix.

Downtown estes park history The Taffy Shop

In the image below, you can see an early view of the spectacular sign that was installed in 1960, to commemorate the 25th anniversary of The Taffy Shop®. In 2015 we restored the electric sign to it's original glory and operate it for a few hours each night (see a current view in the banner at the top of the page).

Vintage candy store Estes Park, Colorado

The Taffy Shop® in the media

Take a look behind the scenes and see "what's on TV" in this collection of videos that feature our store...

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The Taffy Shop®     Located at 121 West Elkhorn Ave  Estes Park, Co      (970) 586-4548

Kyle Clark at 9 News in Denver shared this look at The Taffy Shop, after we posted a picture of an employee from 1966 whostopped by the store to reminisce. [2:31]

KUNC Radio Economy Reporter Jackie Fortier and videographer  David Anderson interviewed Mark about the secrets of making taffy recently... [2:25]

Featured in the Bank of Colorado series of commercials about  "Why Community Matters". This runs across the state on Denver TV stations [1:22]

Local TV (EPTV Channel 8) and theater advertisement [:25]

Videographer Manish Shankar's teaser video about our store, features customers, taffy making and classic summer scenes [2:28]

History of The Taffy Shop®; behind the scenes making taffy; interviews with past employees and customers [15:39]