🍬‘They’re not pulled:’ This Daytona Beach candy company shares secret behind world famous taffy

Zeno’s Boardwalk Sweet Shop has been Central Florida staple since 1948

Zeno's has several stores across the U.S.

If you visit any of Zeno’s candy shops throughout Florida, you’ll notice the salt water taffy puller in the window molding taffy. Owner John Louizes said it’s all for show.

“That’s traditionally how saltwater taffy is made and that’s how we started making it back in the day,” Louizes said. “When you see the taffy puller in the window, we don’t actually sell that taffy because we make them a different way now.”

Zeno's Boardwalk Sweet Shop (Copyright 2022 by WKMG ClickOrlando - All rights reserved.)

Louizes grew up with generations of candy makers, running the family-owned Zeno’s Boardwalk Sweet Shop.

“My great uncle Thomas started it in 1948, He’s a Greek immigrant who learned how to make candy in Coney Island and on vacation one year, came down to Florida and never went back to New York,” Louizes said. “We’ve grown from one little candy counter to seven stores in the state of Florida and it’s the American dream.”

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Zeno’s is best known for its saltwater taffy and has made some adjustments over the years to the way its sweet treats are created.

It all starts with a combination of sugar (liquid and solid) and water being cooked up to 265 degrees. Then it’s transferred to a mixing bowl.

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Instead of the mixture being pulled, it’s whipped in large mixers. Louizes said the new taffy-making process was a happy accident.

“By accident, I was making a marshmallow one day using the mixer and I forgot to put the gelatin in and all of a sudden the candy that came out was actually what resembles our taffy how it is now. I was like ‘this is better than what we’re making,’” Louizes said.

Zeno's Boardwalk Sweet Shop (Copyright 2022 by WKMG ClickOrlando - All rights reserved.)

Mixing the taffy liquid creates a whipped, creamy product. After it’s whipped to the right consistency, it’s dumped into tubs and stored in the warming room.

“We have heaters in the warming room that keep the room at 90 degrees. It allows the taffy to soften so we can mold it,” Louizes said.

After a couple days, the softened taffy is molded and put on the batch roller that meads the taffy-like dough. The machine turns the taffy into a long rope, cuts it into bite-sized pieces and wraps it in Zeno’s candy wrappers. The machine cranks out 350 pieces a minute.

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A confectioner then sifts through all the individually-wrapped candies for quality control before they are measured, packed in batches and then shipped out to Zeno’s signature stores in Florida, as well as more than 100 other candy stores across the country.

In one 10-hour shift, Zeno’s cooks 3,600 pounds of taffy. That adds up to about 432,000 pieces of taffy. So far, Zeno’s has made more than 50 million pieces of taffy, producing more than 100 flavors including chili pepper, sex on the beach, root beer float, even maple bacon, and there’s always a new flavor on deck.

This summer Zeno’s is releasing Busta Bears taffy, which is taffy with a gummy bear center, and pickle taffy.

Zeno’s has stores located in Daytona Beach, Madeira Beach and St. Augustine. You can also order from their website. (They don’t just make taffy, they also make caramels, brittle, flavored popcorn and fudge.)


About the Author:

Crystal Moyer is a multimedia journalist who joined the News 6 team in February 2020. Crystal comes to Central Florida from WKMG’s sister station, WJXT in Jacksonville, where she worked as a traffic anchor and MMJ.