Beach Candy


by John M. Urban

Summer is here. It must be time for some beach candy. No, not bathing suit-clad eye candy along the shore. Beach candy. As in, salt water taffy and fudge.

Although this may be more of a Northeast phenomenon, I recall scores of shoreline stores selling boxes of salt water taffy and corner shops doling out freshly cut fudge, and this practice continues. From Hyannis to Edgartown, from Rockport to Glouchester, Portsmouth to Kittery, Newport to Narragansett, Sag Harbor to Montauk, Point Pleasant to Margate, and on.

Me making fudge
(Fudge making in Rockport, MA – quite obviously a precise undertaking)

I have spent time on Chesapeake Bay, southern waters, too, and I believe this food extends to those areas, as well, although I will look for confirmation from readers who possess better local knowledge. I do, however, speak with some authority on the prevalence of beach candy in the Northeast United States.

As for myself, I have had no desire for these sugary foods during the summer months. Salt water taffy? Absolutely, but not really in hot weather. Fudge? Oh, yeah, but better left for those months when winter clothes conceal extra pounds.

(You know you’re on to a good business when you can amortize your marketing and print budget over a fifty-plus year period)

Yet, someone is buying this stuff. This must be. The proof lies in the fact that these shoreline dispensaries have been in business for years, for decades, for generations. Unless undercover news reporters are able to reveal that these local fudge shops are cleverly disguised fronts for money laundering, I must assume that they are going concerns kept alive by continuing sales.

Could it be the addictive nature or the soft texture of comfort food? Maybe. Could it be the reasonable price point of these modest treats? Probably. Or is it the continuation of a summer tradition. Yes, that, too.

I cannot imagine the viability of opening a new fudge shop in any of the towns I listed above, nor can I imagine that there is fragility to the existing shops. Yet, when times change, it frequently occurs rapidly. The emergence and then absence of flip phones – occurred in a snap of time. The ubiquity and quick fade of AOL – looking back that was almost overnight. Will taffy and fudge shops eventually run their course? I guess. It seems, then, that I better get some soon, if only for the novelty.

Maybe. Then again, the lines are always long in those shops. I think I’ll just put on some shades and sunscreen, grab my powered-up Kindle, and head to the beach.


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About John Urban

Like his protagonist, John Urban has worked as a college professor and he sails the waters of Southern New England on an old wooden sailboat that he restored. He is a regular contributor to the blog Write On The Water, and his short stories have appeared in the anthologies Seasmoke and Deadfall. The ocean was his desired destination from an early age. As a boy living a landlocked life in Western Massachusetts, nights were dedicated to reading about boats and watching Flipper and weekends were spent boating and fishing, April-to-October, on Long Island Sound. Thoughts of a career at sea ended early after a stint at the Massachusetts Maritime Academy, but the circle of life has come around some years later in the form of the fictional world of Steve Decatur. Urban lives just outside Boston and spends his summers near the waters edge of Buzzards Bay and Rhode Island Sound. A Single Deadly Truth, published on Amazon Kindle, is Urban's debut novel. As second Steve Decatur mystery, Masters of Rhode Island, is due out later this year.
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