They’re squishy , they’re fluffy, they’re sweet and easy to eat - but what exactly are they and how did they come to be one of the most popular treats? Still don’t know what we’re talkin’ about? Marshmallows of course! Find out more in All About Marshmallows!
We see them in desserts all the time, chances are you even have some in your cupboard at home, but what exactly are marshmallows? The marshmallows we eat today are made from sugar, water, corn syrup and gelatin that is softened in hot water, and vanilla which are whipped until they reach a sponge- like texture. Sometimes color is added to make them a treat for the eyes as well. Some recipes include eggs as well.
Marshmallows weren’t always confections meant for throwing in hot chocolate and s’mores, the original marshmallow was actually medicinal. In Ancient times there were many medicinal uses for marshmallow root, for example the Ancient Egyptians used to extract sap from marshmallow plant roots and mix it with honey and nuts to soothe sore throats (it didn’t hurt that the chewy substance they made from these ingredients doubled as a sweet treat!)
In the early 19th century French candy-makers came up with the idea of sweetening and whipping marshmallow sap to create a fluffy confection. This new candy was incredibly popular but labor-intensive to create and French sweet shop owners couldn’t keep up with demand. By the end of the 19th century they came up with the idea of adding gelatin, egg whites or corn starch to made the candy chewier and easier to make. It wasn’t until 1948 that there was another major leap forward in marshmallow production when American Alex Doumak invented an extrusion process which was a way to make marshmallows by machine in small cylinders – exactly like the marshmallows we eat today!