Rushmore Mountain Taffy | Keystone SD
07 Oct 2018
Once I stepped into Rushmore Taffy, I knew why my colleagues
demanded asked me to bring a big bag back of taffy back to the office. The smell alone hooked me. Cinnamon was the flavor of the moment and was being pulled as I arrived. All l I wanted to do what sit there and watch it ... and smell it. And I really wished my kids were with me to taste it - I knew it would be divine! But I wasn't there to day dream, I had a tour to take and taffy to learn about it.
Anita Stverak and her brother, Jeff Stverak (the Owner of the Rushmore Mountain Taffy Shop) are used to the heavenly scents, beautiful colors, and delicious taste of their taffy. No stranger to the compliments, they patiently let me tell them over and over how amazing it smelled in their store.
As the glossy pink confection twisted and turned on their 125 year old pulling machine, Anita walked me through how a batch of their famous (seriously - they make it and ship it to other stores and clients all over the country) taffy.
It all starts here, with boiled sugar, vegetable oil, milk, and margarine. Rushmore Taffy does not use corn syrup or preservatives. They do, however, use a upgraded sugar to create superior texture and taste. BOOM. Now you know.
This is where the magic happens - these bottles are home to all the top-secret flavorings that give Rushmore Taffy the cult following that it has.
Rows and rows of potions. These were my favorite to photograph and pour over.
"Someone asked us once, after seeing our 'capful at a time method,' why don't we, instead, use droppers as a precise way to measure our flavors? -- I had an answer for her, but the short version is, 'we know what works and we stick with that.'"
Go get em', Anita. There is no doubt you guys know what you are doing - your families' company is a thirty-eight year old icon and we know YOU KNOW what works.
This is when I stood back and let Anita do her thing.
It's ready to feed through the candy wrapping machine.
Yum. Just. Yum.
This process is repeated up to 30+ times a day during the summer season. However, year around, they are making fresh taffy daily. I asked if they make a huge patch of one flavor at a time, and I was quickly told no.
"We pride ourselves on freshness. Fresh taffy is soft. It melts in your mouth. We make as many 'small batches' as we need to, in order to ensure each flavor hasn't been sitting too long. Everything. Is. Fresh."
(I should have known better.)
(Favorites of the season are carrot cake, pumpkin spice, and there was a pumpkin cheesecake option coming soon, as well.)
I wonder if the jalapeno flavor is hot, you guys?
Yes! Sugarless. They say it "absolutely melts in your mouth."
I'm glad I am not the only one who needs a visual of what a pound is.
"All summer long we have tourists that take pictures of our taffy being pulled in the front window. Videos, photos, and comments all make our day! We even have a hashtag so we don't miss a single post."
Anita's comment struck me - for an old-fashioned candy store to have an online presence - and know how important that is - is a tribute to how innovation and adaptability have kept them going.
"We see businesses come and go all of the time. We were here then, we are here now, and we will be here tomorrow... in the same spot (because people tell us they always remember where we are located!) but making sure we keep up with what our customers want - and that is our presence online."
What you need to know: