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DIY Laffy Taffy is a popular confection to make and sell in prison
Photo illustration by Teresa Tauchi

Sitting at my desk, I’m enjoying a mouthful of my favorite homemade prison candy, what we dub Laffy Taffy, while I listen to Blueface’s “Thotiana” remix featuring Cardi B and YG. This candy is the most popular treat in my 200-person building. Nobody wants to give up their recipe for it. It’s addictive and has people looking for it like a drug.

You probably know the real Laffy Taffy — it’s a gooey candy that you can find in any grocery store. But we have our own way of making it.  

We use a 16- or 20-ounce package of powdered nondairy creamer and eight to 10 single-serve packs of Kool-Aid. The choice of drink-mix flavor is up to you. 

You pour the creamer in a plastic bowl, then pour all the Kool-Aid packs on top. You have to use a pair of plastic or latex gloves because it gets sticky. 

This next part is crucial to making the candy. It’s the ultimate secret ingredient that nobody likes to disclose. You add 4 tablespoons of water and mix it into the creamer and Kool-Aid. If you put any more than that, you will kill your chances of success. You will be left with a bowl of slime and gelatinous liquid that you’ll have to throw away.

If you get it right, though, the candy is ready in 30 minutes. With gloves on, you have to mush all the powder together and make it stick to parts made wet with water. Once you’ve made it all stick together, you ball it up and stretch it out like a slinky. Then fold it and do it again and roll it back into a ball. 

Repeat this cycle until the taffy is smooth and everything is mixed together perfectly. Flatten it out like a pizza on top of an unused plastic bag. Then take a pizza cutter and cut it into pieces. 

To vary the flavor, you can sprinkle chili powder over the top layer. Do the same with Jolly Ranchers crushed into powder. 

The reason why nobody likes to share the recipe is because it’s a hustle. The creamer and Kool-Aid for one batch costs only $4. The Jolly Ranchers and chili powder might cost about $10. But the batch makes 20 to 30 big pieces that can sell for $1 apiece. One person told me that they make a few hundred dollars a month selling it. Some people survive on the proceeds and even send money home monthly to their children. 

Try it out yourself and tell people that the writer and poet EDH laced you up.

Disclaimer: The views in this article are those of the author. Prison Journalism Project has verified the writer’s identity and basic facts such as the names of institutions mentioned.

E.D.H. is a poet who was raised in Compton in Los Angeles. He is currently incarcerated in California. He has asked to be published under his pen name.