Reprint from the Santa Cruz Sentinel - September 26,2001
Gimme S’more: Gooey history of our favorite campfire treat
By KIMBERLY BAKER
Special to the Sentinel
Here’s the real fluff about marshmallows, sung to the tune
of "Row Row Your Boat":
"Roast roast roast your marshmallow,
over the open fire..
lightly toast ’em, scorch ’em, burn ’em, then we’ll have
Have you ever wondered where the tradition of roasting
marshmallows over the campfire came from?
The original marshmallows were a confection created by mixing the
mucilaginous goo from the center of the marsh mallow plant (Althaea
officinalis) with sugar or honey.
This species of plant is native to Europe, but now grows on the
East Coast, from Long Island south, presumably imported by European
The folks at Jet Puffed Marshmallows claim that the sweet
originated with the Egyptians. Yet others believe it was first
enjoyed by the Romans.
Whatever you believe, the primitive marshmallow was around for a
long time before it evolved in late 1800s France as a fancy,
In the early 20th century, the French version of the confection
arrived in the United States and was popularized here.
The marshmallow was mass produced in the early part of the
century by many different companies, using an extrusion method which
revolutionized the marshmallow manufacturing process.
At this point, the structural component of these fluffy wonders
was replaced by gelatin.
Today, marshmallows are produced by only three companies, and
none of them use mallow.
Ingredients of modern marshmallows: Corn syrup, sugar dextrose,
food starch (corn), water, gelatin, tetrasodium pyrophosphate,
artificial and natural flavor, artificial color (Blue 1).