The kids wanted to make S’Mores for dessert after the cookout, so I grabbed a bag of marshmallows at the grocery. As I held the sweet, spongy confections in my hands, I got to thinking about them. It’s a well known fact that Americans love chocolate, tacos and beer. But, did you know that we also love sweet, spongy marshmallows? Americans purchase 90 million pounds of marshmallows annually. More than half of the marshmallows sold during the summer months are toasted. I wonder how many are sandwiched between chocolate bars and graham crackers? Here are some more interesting facts about marshmallows:
The Early History of Marshmallows
The ancient Egyptians made their version of marshmallows by mixing the sap of the mallow root with honey and grains. The mixture was then baked into cakes. It was a delicacy that was served only to gods and royalty.
Marshmallows as we know them today were invented by the French in the 1800s. Candy makers whipped the sap of the mallow plant together with egg whites and corn syrup. The mixture was molded into individual treats by hand. Later, the candy makers improved the process. They made marshmallow molds out of modified cornstarch. They also stopped using the mallow plant. Gelatin was added to the recipe to make a mix that was easier to form.
Americans first saw marshmallows in the early 1900s. In 1948, Alex Doumak of Doumak, Incorporated, invented and patented an extrusion process for making marshmallows. The mixture was run through tubes, cut into uniform pieces and packaged for sale. An interesting fact about marshmallows is, Americans bought them like crazy in the 1950s. They weren’t just eaten from the bag, but also added to recipes. It’s unsure when S’Mores were invented, and by whom, but the largest one ever recorded by Guinness was constructed weighed 1,600 pounds. It consisted of 20,000 marshmallows, 7,000 chocolate bars and 24,000 graham crackers. The record was set on May 23, 2003 in California.
Miscellaneous Facts About Marshmallows
1. Another interesting fact about marshmallows is that the polar bears at SeaWorld Parks love them too. Naturally, the bears are fed a healthy, balanced diet all the time. But they enjoy marshmallow treats from time-to-time.
2. If you’re on a low fat diet, you can still enjoy marshmallows. They contain plenty of sugar, but no fat.
3. Ligonier, Indiana is considered to be the marshmallow capital of the world. Every year the “Ligonier Marshmallow Festival” is held to honor one of the main products of Noble County.
4. And, finally, an interesting fact about marshmallows is, if you’re afraid of them, then you have “Althaiophobia”.