Jean-Luc Thiffeault recently was featured in the Washington Post's Wonkblog on his paper exploring the mathematical history of taffy pullers. (Link to paper: http://arxiv.org/pdf/1608.00152v1.pdf)
In the Washington Post article, Thiffeault describes moving from exploring taffy as part of fluid dynamics lectures to exporing where taffy machines came from and how they've evolved to be mathematical models of efficiency in mixing, if only to introduce enough complexity to avoid another's patent. Thiffeault even thought about how to make his own more efficient model, as evidenced by his prototype for his improved taffy puller. (Link: https://youtu.be/pd_KMGs2nZQ). Rest assured, Thiffeault isn't going to ditch his job to make a living pulling taffy, noting "Making candy is really difficult...The process was a revelation into how complicated it is."