Maybe you’ve given up eating candy years ago because you’ve been told one of a couple things.

It’ll raise your blood sugar.

It’ll go straight to your hips

Or

It’ll rot your teeth.

Still, there’s always one that you have to have on certain occasions.

Watch what happens when the host at parties puts out little Hershey’s Kisses. How many of them do you gobble down in one sitting.

Then there are M&M’s.

Plus licorice and God-knows what else.

Shift on over to the shore, and more specifically Atlantic City, where the smell of salt water taffy wafts over the boardwalk, beckoning you to buy a bag or two.

Salt water taffy, more than any other boardwalk food, evokes the Jersey Shore.

You thought it was just something vacationers bought as a souvenir and promptly tossed in the garbage.

Think again.

"We sell about 600,000 pounds of salt water taffy a year,'' says Lisa Glaser Whitley, sitting in her office overlooking the Atlantic City boardwalk.

Whitley is executive vice president of sales and marketing for the James Candy Co., which owns two of the iconic salt water taffy brands - James and Fralinger's.

The third is Shriver's, in Ocean City, and taffy is flying out of there at a pace that would make Willy Wonka dizzy with delight.

"We make 2,200 pounds of taffy a day (in the summer),'' says Holly Kisby, manager of the Shriver's boardwalk store.

Shriver's, the oldest business on the Ocean City boardwalk - it opened in 1898 - offers a staggering 70 flavors of taffy, with chocolate the overwhelming bestseller.

"For every batch of other flavors, we make three batches of chocolate,'' Kisby explains.

Any real Jerseyan has heard of Fralinger's and Shriver's salt water taffy; what few realize is that salt water taffy in Jersey is all in the family. Shriver's is owned by Meryl and Blue Vangelov. Meryl Vangelov is Lisa Glaser Whitley's cousin. Hank Glaser, Whitley's uncle, recently sold Shriver's to the Vangelovs. Frank Glaser, Hank's brother and Lisa's father, is president of James Candy.

At Shriver's, you can watch taffy being made through a floor-to-ceiling glass window. At James, there is no such setup, but you can take tours of the factory led by an bearded, effervescent guide who happens to be a college professor.

Tours of candy factories. It’s got to drive you crazy, not too different than taking a ride to Hershey and traveling through the chocolate factory.

As a kid, I remember passing the old Rockwell chocolate factory on the BQE on my way to my uncle’s house in Astoria. The whiff of chocolate permeated the air like a blanket.

So I can easily see why salt water taffy is a “must have” when visiting Atlantic City.
Do you have a favorite candy, and how many can you eat in one sitting? (Hershey’s Crunch, and I lose count after three)