Some salt water taffy is vegan, and some isn’t.
It depends on the brand, and sometimes depends on your personal definition of veganism.
Let me quickly explain why.
Obvious Non-Vegan Ingredients in Salt Water Taffy
The core ingredients of taffy are various forms of sugar (corn syrup, plain white sugar, etc.), plus oils.
The big issue is that some popular salt water taffies contain egg whites, which are of course not vegan.
It’s the reason I wouldn’t accept taffy from someone without seeing the ingredients label.
Possible Non-Vegan Ingredients
Taffy also often contains artificial colors and palm oil.
Both of these ingredients are technically vegan, they aren’t animal products. However, many vegans avoid them.
Growing palm products has resulted in the near extinction of many species like Sumatran tigers and orangutans. Here’s a detailed look at why you might not consider palm oil to be vegan.
Artificial colors (e.g. Blue 2, Red 40, Yellow 5, etc.) are all synthetic ingredients derived from fossil fuels. Due to safety concerns, they have been continually tested on animals for as long as they’ve been around.
Dogs, mice, rats, and more have been fed high doses to see how much kills them (or causes things like tumor growth). For those reasons, many vegans avoid artificial colors.
It’s up to you to decide where you stand on those 2 issues.
In summary: Some salt water taffy is vegan, but many brands are not. You’ll need to check the specific ingredients of a product to determine that. If you really want some, I’d suggest making your own, there are plenty of vegan salt water taffy recipes that you can make.