Old Fashion Vinegar Taffy

Vintage Kitchen

Vintage Kitchen

Thinking about vinegar…I remembered one of the first candy recipes I attempted when I was in grade school.  Vinegar Taffy.  Although it doesn’t sound good, it was delicious; my brothers asked me to make it often.  This is one of the old recipes they used for taffy pulls–an activity when guys and gals got together for socializing.  Everyone got sticky but it was great fun pulling that mound of caramel-colored candy until it cooled into glossy strands.

The recipe comes from the 1945 edition of The Cook Book, compiled by The Women of the Mason County Home Bureau, Illinois.  This cook book is filled with frugal recipes shared by women in the war years when meat was rationed and entertainment was more home-centered.  Friends visited friends and played cards or cranked ice cream.  Dairy products and eggs were locally produced and easier to afford.  Vacant lots transformed instantly into baseball fields.  Parks were for Sunday strolls and picnics.  Children chased fireflies and adults sat on the porch in the coolness of evening.  The war was on everyone’s mind; all worked together to make things do on the home front, longing for the day the boys would come home.


  • 1 cup sugar
  • 1/2 cup dark Karo syrup
  • 1/2 cup cold water
  • 1 tablespoon vinegar
  • pinch of baking soda
  • 1/3 teaspoon vanilla
  • 1 tablespoon butter, heaping

Mix first four ingredients and cook until syrup reaches hard crack stage stirring constantly. Remove from heat and stir in soda, vanilla and butter.  Pour taffy onto large buttered plate [or marble slab].  When cool, pull with buttered hands until stiff.  Cut or break into small pieces.  [Recipe submitted by Mrs. Robert Grant, Easton, Ill.]




About Sharon L. Clemens

Sharon and husband Merle and their children owned and operated a specialty shop and restaurant in a restored dairy barn for thirteen years in a village in Illinois. After closing their restaurant, they converted the barn into the family home and moved their shop to the garden level. They operated a collectable shop as a home-based business for another thirteen years before retiring to the country life. Sharon has been a special feature guest on the local NBC telelvision affiliate and has spoken professionally on topics relating to herb gardening and cottage lifestyle. In addition to conducting workshops and programs, Sharon writes a weekly cottage lifestyle e-newsletter called “Cottage Chat” and a Word Press blog: Seasons of Farm Grove. She has written five novels, The Younger Girl, Door County Cottage, Timeless-A Door County Love Story, Door County Cabin and Door County Escape, love stories with traditional values set in Door County, Wisconsin.
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