Trivia Tuesday: Marshmallows

Pretty much everyday I touch some sort of product made out of marshmallows.  It seems like such a strange candy type food so here is some information about the yummy confection.

Marshmallows typically are made of sugar, corn syrup, water, gelatin, dextrose, vanilla flavoring, and occasionally egg whites.  It is suspected that the marshmallow was created as a medicinal substance for sore throats.  Ancient Egyptians made candy out of marshmallow roots by extracting its sap and combining it with nuts and honey.

The next development towards the modern version of the marshmallow came by using the pith of the mallow plant instead of the sap.  For the pith, the stem of plant is peeled back and then boiled in sugar syrup.  When it dries it creates a soft chewy confection.  In 19th century France the whipping of the marshmallow sap and sweetening it began and the confection was very similar to modern marshmallows.  Small shop owners found that while the candy was very popular extracting the sap and whipping it themselves was very labor-intensive.  They found that using egg whites or gelatin and modified corn starch created the same chewy consistency but was far less laborious.  In 1948, Alex Doumak invented a method to manufacture marshmallows in a fully automated system.  This process led to the cylindrical shape that is well-known today.

Top Marshmallow brands today include Stay-Puffed, Campfire, Kidd, Jet-Puffed and  there are many “store” brand versions.  Along with coming in a ridiculous amount of flavors, sooooo many flavors, marshmallows are used in Mallomars, Peeps, Fluff Rice Krispies Treats, Rocky Road ice cream, and in other foods like candied yams, and ambrosia salad.

And there is a brief and terrible history of the marshmallow.

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