Taffy Party Comes to Blows and Infection on the Ramsay Line – What was in the Punch?



Years ago Sugaring or Taffy Pulling were the rage as Ministers frowned upon dances and the playing of cards. How else were the young folk able to socialize without the many prying eyes of family? Yes, they probably pried, but most of them had their hands full of taffy. In the Almonte Gazette, Friday, April 30, 1886 a front page note was made about a scandalous Taffy Pull that one must ask themselves the question.

“What was in that punch?”
                                                                                    A SERIOUS AFFAIR

At a taffy party held one night last week on a farm in Ramsay a few miles from here, a young man named Gleeson struck another young man named Wm. Lynchonin the forehead with a bottle. The blow being given with such force that the bottle broke and a bad gash was inflicted. The affair was the outcome of a row the parties had some time previously. Lynch was with difficulty prevented from retaliating. He was taken home, and after a time *erysipelas set in. A physician was summoned, who prescribed the necessary remedies, but the disease spread over the patient’s face, and touched the brain, and for a time a fatal result was feared. However, we are glad to learn that he is now in a fair way to recover. The public may yet hear more about the affair.

*Erysipelas (/ɛrɨˈsɪpələs/; Greek ἐρυσίπελας—red skin; also known as “Ignis sacer”, “holy fire”, and “St. Anthony’s fire”[1] in some countries) is an acute infection[2] typically with a skin rash, usually on any of the legs and toes, face, arms and fingers. It is an infection of the upper dermis and superficial lymphatics, usually caused by Beta-hemolytic group A streptococcus bacteria on scratches or otherwise infected areas.[3] Erysipelas is more superficial than cellulitis, and is typically more raised and demarcated. Wikipedia


Make fun memories with your family with this recipe for old-fashioned

Pull Candy Recipe – Stewed Sugar

2 cups sugar
1/4 cup water
1/4 cup cider vinegar
Soft butter for greasing hands and cooling surface – at least a stick of butter

You will need a candy thermometer for this recipe.

Stir together the sugar, water and vinegar in a heavy saucepan. Clip on candy thermometer and don’t let it touch the bottom of the cooking pan.

Heat the sugar syrup until the candy thermometer reaches the hard ball stage or 260-265 degrees. Don’t stir while it is cooking.

Slowly pour the syrup onto a buttered surface like a large cutting board. Bevery careful — this is a molten mass of hot syrup.   DO NOT scrape bowl. Just let whatever candy comes out, come out. Allow candy to cool for a few minutes.

As soon as the syrup is slightly cooled, scrape it into a large ball. If you are going to add any flavorings like vanilla or peppermint, now is the time to do this. Flip the ball of candy over several times using some sort of scraper like a candy scraper.

When it is cool enough to handle, gather the ball of candy into your well-greased hands and pull the candy using both hands until you have reached as far as you can. Fold  the pulled part over and repeat. Do this for about 4-5 minutes or until the candy is getting stiff and has turned a beautiful white color.

Once this happens, pull out a long rope of candy about 1/2″ thick. You can twist this if you want a twisted look for your candy. Lay it out on waxed paper to cool.

When it has thoroughly cooled, break it into 1 1/2 ” pieces. Wrap each piece of candy in waxed paper and store in airtight container.

Yield: 50 pieces about 1 1/2 “-2″ long

About lindaseccaspina

Before she laid her fingers to a keyboard, Linda was a fashion designer, and then owned the eclectic store Flash Cadilac and Savannah Devilles in Ottawa on Rideau Street from 1976-1996. She also did clothing for various media and worked on “You Can’t do that on Television”. After writing for years about things that she cared about or pissed her off on American media she finally found her calling. She is a weekly columnist for the Sherbrooke Record and documents history every single day and has over 6500 blogs about Lanark County and Ottawa and an enormous weekly readership. Linda has published six books and is in her 4th year as a town councillor for Carleton Place. She believes in community and promoting business owners because she believes she can, so she does.

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