Butter a 15x10x1-inch baking pan; set aside.
Butter sides of a heavy 2-quart saucepan. In saucepan combine sugar, corn syrup, water, and salt. Cook and stir over medium-high heat till mixture boils. Clip a candy thermometer to side of pan. Reduce heat to medium; continue boiling at a moderate, steady rate, without stirring, until thermometer registers 265 degree F, hard-ball stage (about 40 minutes).
Remove saucepan from heat; remove thermometer. Stir in butter. If desired, stir in extract and food coloring. Pour into the prepared pan. Cool for 15 to 20 minutes or till taffy mixture is easy to handle.
Butter your hands. Twist and pull candy till it turns a creamy color and is stiff and quite difficult to pull (10 to 15 minutes). Candy is ready if it cracks when tapped on counter. Divide candy into 4 pieces; twist and pull each piece into a long strand about 12 inch thick. With buttered scissors, snip each strand of taffy into bite-size pieces. Wrap each piece in plastic wrap. Makes about 1-1/2 pounds (100 pieces).