A Short ‘n Sweet History of Roasting Marshmallows
Here ye, Here ye!
“Marshmallow roasts are the newest thing in summer resort diversions!” boasted the New York World on August 5, 1892. "The simplicity of this form of amusement is particularly charming...the idea is sure to grow in favour."
And grow it did.
126 years later, roasting marshmallows remains a tradition for many a gathering of family and friends. There’s still nothing quite like sharing stories around a campfire or singing along to an acoustic guitar as flames lick the night sky.
Today, we can grab a bag full of marshmallows from the grocery store for about two bucks, but it wasn’t always this cheap and easy. Marshmallows were somewhat of a luxury in the late 19th century. Made with sugar, egg whites, gum arabic, and marshmallow sap, these treats resembled the gourmet marshmallows you may find in a fancy novelty shoppe today. It wasn’t until 1917 that Campfire Marshmallows® hit the market, trading pricey marshmallow sap for gelatin, while the price of sugar dropped every 10 years between the 19th and 20th century. Thus, ghost stories and s’mores spread across the country like wildfire, and what World Trend once described as “morsels for the gods” were now a much loved sweet of kingpins and commoners alike. In the 1950s, they were mass produced and bagged using an extrusion process, expanding the product to brands like Doumak® and Kraft Jet-Puffed®.
As with most things in America, retailers have continued to capitalize on a hit. Go to any department store this summer, and you’ll find more than bags of marshmallows. There are stainless steel roasting sticks, s’mores kits, indoor flameless roasters, and many a thing that offers to make your life easier.
Personally, I prefer how we used to do it on the farm, grabbing a warped and dirty stick from the woods and immersing it in the flames until the marshmallow at its end was nearly burnt and bursting. It was simple, and, thanks to Penny, I wouldn’t dare try to fix something that isn’t broken.
The game has certainly changed, but the story is still the same: where there’s smoke, there’s fire, and where there’s fire, there’s friends...and family...and whimsical tales that continue to grow.
Another warm & gooey bonfire tale awaits...