This is a traditional Christmas treat handed down from my Grandma Achenbach. It is called clothesline taffy because she used to hang the stretched taffy ropes over the clothesline, with a sheet suspended beneath them. When the taffy got hard, she would whack the ropes through the sheets and the sheets would catch all the pieces. We all looked forward to our Taffy Pull each year.
Butter 1 or 2 large jelly roll pans (something flat, but with sides) and set aside.
Soften the gelatin in the cold water in a small bowl. Set aside.
In a large, heavy bottomed pot, stir sugar, milk, syrup, butter and paraffin together over medium high heat until it boils.
Add the softened gelatin, and continue to cook, stirring constantly, to the hard ball test in a small cup of cold water. (250°to 255°F)
Stir in nutmeats or flavorings and pour onto buttered pans to cool. Cool until you are able to hold your hand on the bottom of the pan.
Wash hands and butter them a little. Take a glob of the candy from the pan and pull it until stiff and white and glossy. (Keep hands buttered if it is sticky--Not too much butter)
This is when it comes in handy to have several people to pull the taffy. Give each child their own small glob to pull (making sure it is cool enough for little buttered hands), and have the adults work in pairs to pull larger batches. Work hand over hand, pulling and stretching between partners until taffy becomes very hard to pull and white.
When the taffy has been pulled sufficiently,pull and form it into ropes about 3/4 to 1 inch diameter and lay them back on the buttered pans to cool completely. Try to keep them from touching each other by laying them out in a coiled or snake like pattern.
Let cool completely and crack into bite sized pieces with meat pounder, mallet, the back of a heavy knife, etc. Just hit it and it should crack easily. Wrap pieces in waxed paper and store in airtight container where it is cool and dry.