Of all the candies that were available when I was a kid. I remember Bonomo Turkish Taffy most fondly. I don't know why - maybe because of their intense and ubiquitous advertising which ran well into the 1970's, or because Turkish Taffy was a standard feature of so many childhood Christmas stockings and Easter baskets, or maybe simply because it became unavailable for so long when it was discontinued years ago. Whatever the reason, memories of Bonomo caused me to keep an eye open for it at every specialty candy store I visited for many years, without success. Eventually I found out that the company had at one point been bought out by Tootsie and production had ceased in the late 1980's. I had no idea that Bonomo had been resurrected as an independent company until a casual browse through my local Five Below store.
THEY HAD BONOMO ON T3H SHELF!! I was there with my big sister Fran and my wife Maryanne, digging Five Below's cool and fun pop cultural swag when I spotted it, and all three of us pretty much had the same reaction : OMG BONOMO TURKISH TAFFY GET SOME!!!!!1! I picked up a pack of chocolate and a pack of vanilla and would have gotten the banana and strawberry flavors too, if they had any.
I'm happy to report that it's just like it was back in the day. It still "tastes like ice cream," as the old ads used to say. (Tastes like really cheap ice cream, but the ads never did specify the grade of ice cream, so I give them a pass.) And it's still got that "brittle-chewy" makeup, so slapping the package sharply onto a tabletop still breaks the taffy into pieces which then soften in your mouth to a chewy-but-not-very-sticky consistency.
So, why was Turkish Taffy gone so long from the collective sweet tooth? The original company, founded in 1897 by Turkish immigrant Albert Bonomo, was a candy manufacturer on Coney Island making saltwater taffy for sale to tourists. In 1945, the founder's son Victor came up with "Turkish Taffy," made from a batter of corn syrup and egg whites that was boiled and then baked. Turkish Taffy quickly became the company's star product.
In 1980, the Tootsie Co. bought Bonomo, and within a few years discontinued Turkish Taffy, saying that "tastes had changed" and demand had fallen off.
Today, Classic Caramel LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of candymaker Warrell Corporation, is making and distributing Bonomo Turkish Taffy using the original recipes, manufacturing process, and flavors. Track some down - there's nothing like it.