May I have s'more?

Summertime… with memories of watermelon slices, popsicles, and plenty of time outside, running around and drinking from the hose. That’s what I remember. It is also the season for camping, which as I have mentioned in recent columns, means cooking and eating food on a stick. This week I want to talk about the good old s’more.

Most people have heard of s’mores cookies – a sandwich cookie made with your roasted marshmallow. There are recipes for cookies in the oven that have those signature graham wafer, marshmallow and chocolate elements – you can even make them with your air fryer. But nothing beats having s’mores by the campfire.

Did you know that roasting marshmallows was all the rage in the ’90s…? The 1890s, that is. And the tradition of s’mores has been around for almost 100 years. Have I piqued your interest yet?

There is a marsh mallow plant, but it doesn’t grow marshmallows like a fruit tree. When the roots and leaves are boiled, they produce a gooey substance. The ancient Greeks and Romans and then Medieval healers used it to heal inflammation; the earliest version of cough drops was a candy made with mallow root.

You might wonder how we got from a medicine to a super-sweet treat. The French will take credit for that, as they were the ones who decided to try adding eggs and sugar and beating it with the mallow juice until it made a foam. This was a labour-intensive process, however. Marshmallows became popular when the cheaper gelatin used now was created, which could stand in for the mallow.

The graham cracker was a creation of a Presbyterian minister in the early 19th century, but certainly not for such things as s’mores. He wanted something dry and bland, as he believed that some of the more flavourful foods contributed to people’s obsession with carnal desires. He proposed a baked item made from unbleached flour, bran and wheat germ, and named it after himself.

I think Mr. Graham may have been confused, as it was the marshmallow roasting fad in the American Northeast resort towns in the 1890s that seemed to fuel people’s desires, not baked cookies.

One society writer claimed the proper way to eat a roasted marshmallow was off the end of the stick, or the end of your neighbour’s stick, thus making them “an excellent medium for flirtation.” If you’re not comfortable making your roasting experience that intimate, here are some other tips from the National Marshmallow Roaster’s Institute. (No, I’m not kidding, it really does exist.)

Chocolate has its own detailed history full of intrigue and passion; suffice it to say it fits well into this sandwich of society’s extremes in social attitudes. It also seems logical that it would be the final ingredient in something invented by a bunch of kids in the summer.

The first known recipe for “Some More” was published in 1927, in a handbook about camping called “Tramping and Trailing with the Girl Scouts.” By the 1950s, a few mainstream cookbooks such as Betty Crocker had recipes shortening the name to “s’mores.”

Here's the original recipe from the Girl Scouts:

Nowadays many people have branched out to use other cookies and add different fillings like nut butters or jam. I will admit that the chocolate is hard to handle as a hard piece. Regular readers will remember my recommendation is to substitute ganache – or caramel sauce, if you’re not a chocolate fan. The roasted marshmallow is the ubiquitous ingredient, though.

Wherever you are this summer, however you manage to make your s’mores, I hope they come with memories on the side. Here’s to happy, even if sweet and sticky, dreams under the stars. And if you see a Girl Scout or Girl Guide in your travels, you might want to thank them.

More Happy Gourmand articles

About the Author

Kristin Peturson-Laprise is a customer experience specialist by trade, which means she is someone passionate about people having a good time. 

Her company, Wow Service Mentor, helps businesses enhance their customer experience through hands-on training, service programs, and special event coordination.

Kristin enjoys her own experiences too, and that is what she writes about in this column. She and her husband Martin Laprise (also known as Chef Martin, of The Chef Instead) love to share their passion for food and entertaining.  

Kristin says:

"Wikipedia lists a gourmand as a person who takes great pleasure in food. I have taken the concept of gourmandise, or enjoying something to the fullest, in all parts of my life. I love to grow and cook food, and I loved wine enough to become a Sommelier. I call a meal a success when I can convey that 'sense of place' from where the food has come . . . the French call that terroir, but I just call it the full experience. It might mean tasting the flavours of my own garden, or transporting everyone at the table to a faraway place, reminiscent of travels or dreams we have had."


E-mail Kristin at:  [email protected]

Check out her website here:  www.wowservicementor.com


The views expressed are strictly those of the author and not necessarily those of Castanet. Castanet does not warrant the contents.

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