The Great Smoky Mountains may be a long way from salt water, but taffy has been a Gatlinburg trademark for almost 6 decades.
"I think it was 1953 when we started," says owner Peggy Dych. "Actually, we started in our garage."
They started by rolling out what her husband called taffy logs.
"He said the logs would be symbolic of the trees in the mountains. My husband learned to make candy from a German candy maker, and he just learned to make one thing at a time."
Their candy collection has certainly grown over the years. Today, the shelves at the Ole Smoky Candy Kitchen are piled high with varieties of chocolate, candy corn and sugary sweets.
"These are raspberry marmalade jellies," says one of the shop's candy makers.
Here, new trends are mixed in with old favorites.
"One of the main signature candies is similar to turtles," says Peggy. "We call them brown bears."
Still, taffy remains the main attraction. During the peak season, candy makers turn 300 pounds of taffy a day. And, it always draws a crowd. Thanks to an open kitchen, shoppers get a glimpse of the candy making process.
Several of the employees have been involved in this candy factory for 40, even 50 years. One of the perks, sampling the candy daily. It's part of the shops quality control.
"If it's good candy you never get tired of it."
It might just be Peggy's secret to longevity. She will turn 90 years old in June. Both her son and daughter are part of the family business. So, the Ole Smoky Candy Kitchen will continue to give tourist's a lasting sweet taste of the mountains for many years to come.
Right now, the Ole Smoky Candy Kitchen is open until 6 p.m. However, during peak season, the candy shop is open until 11 p.m.
For more information call the Ole Smoky Candy Kitchen at (865) 436-4886.