Marshmallow

Marshmallow

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The marshmallow is a confection that, in its modern form, typically consists of sugar
Sugar
Sugar is a class of edible crystalline carbohydrates, mainly sucrose, lactose, and fructose, characterized by a sweet flavor.Sucrose in its refined form primarily comes from sugar cane and sugar beet...

, corn syrup
Corn syrup
Corn syrup is a food syrup, which is made from the starch of maize and contains varying amounts of maltose and higher oligosaccharides, depending on the grade. Corn syrup is used in foods to soften texture, add volume, prevent crystallization of sugar, and enhance flavor...

, water
Water
Water is a chemical substance with the chemical formula H2O. A water molecule contains one oxygen and two hydrogen atoms connected by covalent bonds. Water is a liquid at ambient conditions, but it often co-exists on Earth with its solid state, ice, and gaseous state . Water also exists in a...

, gelatin
Gelatin
Gelatin is a translucent, colorless, brittle , flavorless solid substance, derived from the collagen inside animals' skin and bones. It is commonly used as a gelling agent in food, pharmaceuticals, photography, and cosmetic manufacturing. Substances containing gelatin or functioning in a similar...

 that has been softened in hot water, dextrose, vanilla flavourings, and sometimes colouring, whipped to a spongy consistency. Some marshmallow recipes call for egg whites. This confection is the modern version of a medicinal confection made from Althaea officinalis
Althaea officinalis
Althaea officinalis is a species indigenous to Africa, which is used as a medicinal plant and ornamental plant...

, the marshmallow plant.

Production history


The marshmallow probably first came into being as a medicinal substance, since the mucilaginous
Mucilage
Mucilage is a thick, gluey substance produced by most plants and some microorganisms. It is a polar glycoprotein and an exopolysaccharide.It occurs in various parts of nearly all classes of plant, usually in relatively small percentages, and is frequently associated with other substances, such as...

 extracts
Herbal extract
Tincture is a liquid solution of herbs and a fluid menstruum, usually ethanol. The dried or fresh herbs are combined with alcohol, then the solid matter is removed leaving only the oils of the herbs mixed with the alcohol...

 comes from the root of the marshmallow plant, Althaea officinalis
Althaea officinalis
Althaea officinalis is a species indigenous to Africa, which is used as a medicinal plant and ornamental plant...

, which were used as a remedy for sore throats. Concoctions of other parts of the marshmallow plant had medical uses as well. The root has been used since Egyptian
Egyptians
Egyptians are nation an ethnic group made up of Mediterranean North Africans, the indigenous people of Egypt.Egyptian identity is closely tied to geography. The population of Egypt is concentrated in the lower Nile Valley, the small strip of cultivable land stretching from the First Cataract to...

 antiquity in a honey-sweetened confection useful in the treatment of sore throat. The later French version of the recipe, called pâte de guimauve (or "guimauve" for short), included an egg white
Egg white
Egg white is the common name for the clear liquid contained within an egg. In chickens it is formed from the layers of secretions of the anterior section of the hen's oviduct during the passage of the egg. It forms around either fertilized or unfertilized egg yolks...

 meringue
Meringue
Meringue is a type of dessert made from whipped egg whites and sugar, occasionally some recipes may call for adding an acid such as cream of tartar or a small amount of vinegar and a binding agent such as cornstarch found in icing sugar which may be added in addition to the corn starch which...

 and was often flavored with rose water. Pâte de guimauve more closely resembles contemporary commercially available marshmallows, which no longer contain any marshmallow plant.

The use of marshmallow to make a candy dates back to ancient Egypt
Ancient Egypt
Ancient Egypt was an ancient civilization of Northeastern Africa, concentrated along the lower reaches of the Nile River in what is now the modern country of Egypt. Egyptian civilization coalesced around 3150 BC with the political unification of Upper and Lower Egypt under the first pharaoh...

, where the recipe called for extracting sap from the plant and mixing it with nuts and honey. Another pre-modern recipe uses the pith of the marshmallow plant, rather than the sap. The stem was peeled back to reveal the soft and spongy pith, which was boiled in sugar syrup and dried to produce a soft, chewy confection. Candymakers in early 19th century France made the innovation of whipping up the marshmallow sap and sweetening it, to make a confection similar to modern marshmallow. The confection was made locally, however, by the owners of small candy stores. They would extract the sap from the mallow plant's root, and whip it themselves. The candy was very popular, but its manufacture was labor-intensive. In the late 19th century, French manufacturers devised a way to get around this by using egg whites or gelatin
Gelatin
Gelatin is a translucent, colorless, brittle , flavorless solid substance, derived from the collagen inside animals' skin and bones. It is commonly used as a gelling agent in food, pharmaceuticals, photography, and cosmetic manufacturing. Substances containing gelatin or functioning in a similar...

, combined with modified corn starch, to create the chewy base. This avoided the laborious extraction process, but it did require industrial methods to combine the gelatin and corn starch in the right way. Also related are the German confectionery called Schaumkuss.

Another milestone in the development of the modern marshmallow was the extrusion process by the American Alex Doumak in 1948. This invention allowed marshmallows to be manufactured in a fully automated way. The method produced the cylindrical shape that are now associated with marshmallows. The process involves running the ingredients through tubes and then extruding the finished product as a soft cylinder, which is then cut into sections and rolled in a mixture of finely powdered cornstarch and confectioner's sugar
Powdered sugar
Powdered sugar, also known as confectioners' sugar or icing sugar, is very fine sugar. When intended for home use, it typically contains a small amount of anti-caking agent....

. Doumak founded the Doumak company
Doumak
Doumak Inc. is an Illinois company founded in 1961 by Alex Doumak. The company produces marshmallows and holds a patent for the extrusion process by which they are manufactured. , Doumak Inc.'s revenue is 50 million USD....

 in 1961 on the strength of his patent on this process.

Marshmallows, like most candies, are sweetened with sucrose. They are currently prepared by aeration of mixtures of sucrose and proteins to a final density of about 0.5 g/mL. The viscosity
Viscosity
Viscosity is a measure of the resistance of a fluid which is being deformed by either shear or tensile stress. In everyday terms , viscosity is "thickness" or "internal friction". Thus, water is "thin", having a lower viscosity, while honey is "thick", having a higher viscosity...

 of the mixture, owing to the proteins, gelatin or egg albumin, prevents collapse of the air-filled cells.

Brands


Most of the current brands of commercially available marshmallows in the United States are made and copacked by Kraft Foods
Kraft Foods
Kraft Foods Inc. is an American confectionery, food and beverage conglomerate. It markets many brands in more than 170 countries. 12 of its brands annually earn more than $1 billion worldwide: Cadbury, Jacobs, Kraft, LU, Maxwell House, Milka, Nabisco, Oscar Mayer, Philadelphia, Trident, Tang...

 and Doumak, Inc
Doumak
Doumak Inc. is an Illinois company founded in 1961 by Alex Doumak. The company produces marshmallows and holds a patent for the extrusion process by which they are manufactured. , Doumak Inc.'s revenue is 50 million USD....

, under such names as Jet-Puffed, Campfire, Kidd and numerous "private label" store brands. Marshmallows are used in S'more
S'more
A s'more is a traditional nighttime campfire treat popular in the United States and Canada consisting of a roasted marshmallow and a layer of chocolate sandwiched between two pieces of graham cracker.-Etymology and origins:...

s, Mallomars and other chocolate-coated treats, Peeps
Peeps
Peeps are marshmallow candies, sold in the United States and Canada, that are shaped into chicks, bunnies, and other animals. There are also different shapes used for various holidays. Peeps are used primarily to fill Easter baskets, though recent ad campaigns tout the candy as "Peeps - Always in...

, Whippets and other sweets, Rice Krispies treats, ice cream
Ice cream
Ice cream is a frozen dessert usually made from dairy products, such as milk and cream, and often combined with fruits or other ingredients and flavours. Most varieties contain sugar, although some are made with other sweeteners...

 flavors such as Rocky Road
Rocky road ice cream
Rocky road ice cream is a chocolate flavor. Though there are variations on the flavor, it is traditionally composed of chocolate ice cream, nuts, and marshmallows...

, as a topping for hot chocolate
Hot chocolate
Hot chocolate is a heated beverage typically consisting of shaved chocolate, melted chocolate or cocoa powder, heated milk or water, and sugar...

, candied yams
Yam (vegetable)
Yam is the common name for some species in the genus Dioscorea . These are perennial herbaceous vines cultivated for the consumption of their starchy tubers in Africa, Asia, Latin America and Oceania...

, and in several other foodstuffs.

Marshmallows are manufactured in the United Kingdom by, amongst others, Haribo
HARIBO
Haribo is a German confectionery producer, founded in 1920 by Hans Riegel Sr. The company headquarters are in Bonn, and the name is an acronym for Hans Riegel, Bonn....

, Barrett, Princess, and numerous 'non' brand companies including shops and supermarkets.

Marshmallows are popular in Asia, particularly in the previous colonies of the UK. One of the largest suppliers in Asia is Erko Foods, based in China. The company exports to 56 countries. Erko is also the market leader in the Middle East, where their Halal
Halal
Halal is a term designating any object or an action which is permissible to use or engage in, according to Islamic law. The term is used to designate food seen as permissible according to Islamic law...

 marshmallow is sold.

Roasted marshmallows


A popular camping
Camping
Camping is an outdoor recreational activity. The participants leave urban areas, their home region, or civilization and enjoy nature while spending one or several nights outdoors, usually at a campsite. Camping may involve the use of a tent, caravan, motorhome, cabin, a primitive structure, or no...

 or backyard tradition is the roasting or toasting of marshmallows over a campfire
Campfire
A campfire is a fire lit at a campsite, to serve the following functions: light, warmth, a beacon, a bug and/or apex predator deterrent, to cook, and for a psychological sense of security. In established campgrounds they are usually in a fire ring for safety. Campfires are a popular feature of...

 or other open flame. A marshmallow is placed on the end of a stick or skewer
Skewer
A skewer is a thin metal or wood stick used to hold pieces of food together. They are used while grilling or roasting meats, and in other culinary applications....

 and held carefully over the fire. This creates a caramelized
Caramelization
Caramelization is the browning of sugar, a process used extensively in cooking for the resulting nutty flavor and brown color. As the process occurs, volatile chemicals are released, producing the characteristic caramel flavor....

 outer skin with a liquid, molten
Melting
Melting, or fusion, is a physical process that results in the phase change of a substance from a solid to a liquid. The internal energy of a substance is increased, typically by the application of heat or pressure, resulting in a rise of its temperature to the melting point, at which the rigid...

 layer underneath. According to individual preference, the marshmallows are heated to various degrees—from gently toasted to a charred
Combustion
Combustion or burning is the sequence of exothermic chemical reactions between a fuel and an oxidant accompanied by the production of heat and conversion of chemical species. The release of heat can result in the production of light in the form of either glowing or a flame...

 outer layer. The roasted marshmallow can either be eaten whole or the outer layer can be consumed
Eating
Eating is the ingestion of food to provide for all organisms their nutritional needs, particularly for energy and growth. Animals and other heterotrophs must eat in order to survive: carnivores eat other animals, herbivores eat plants, omnivores consume a mixture of both plant and animal matter,...

 separately and the rest of the marshmallow toasted again.

S'more
S'more
A s'more is a traditional nighttime campfire treat popular in the United States and Canada consisting of a roasted marshmallow and a layer of chocolate sandwiched between two pieces of graham cracker.-Etymology and origins:...

s are made by placing a toasted marshmallow on a slice of chocolate
Chocolate
Chocolate is a raw or processed food produced from the seed of the tropical Theobroma cacao tree. Cacao has been cultivated for at least three millennia in Mexico, Central and South America. Its earliest documented use is around 1100 BC...

 which is then placed between two graham cracker
Graham cracker
The graham cracker was developed in 1829 in Bound Brook, New Jersey, by Presbyterian minister Rev. Sylvester Graham. The true graham cracker is made with graham flour, a combination of fine-ground white flour and coarse-ground wheat bran and germ. Graham crackers are often used for making s'mores...

s.

Dietary preferences


The traditional marshmallow recipe uses powdered marshmallow root, which may be difficult to obtain. Most commercially manufactured marshmallows instead use gelatin
Gelatin
Gelatin is a translucent, colorless, brittle , flavorless solid substance, derived from the collagen inside animals' skin and bones. It is commonly used as a gelling agent in food, pharmaceuticals, photography, and cosmetic manufacturing. Substances containing gelatin or functioning in a similar...

 in their manufacture, which vegetarian
Vegetarianism
Vegetarianism encompasses the practice of following plant-based diets , with or without the inclusion of dairy products or eggs, and with the exclusion of meat...

s avoid, as it is derived from animal hides and bone
Bone
Bones are rigid organs that constitute part of the endoskeleton of vertebrates. They support, and protect the various organs of the body, produce red and white blood cells and store minerals. Bone tissue is a type of dense connective tissue...

s. Marshmallows are also generally considered not to be kosher or halal
Halal
Halal is a term designating any object or an action which is permissible to use or engage in, according to Islamic law. The term is used to designate food seen as permissible according to Islamic law...

 unless their gelatin is derived from kosher or halal animals, or the marshmallows are vegetarian. An alternative for vegetarians is to use substitute non-meat gelling agents such as agar
Agar
Agar or agar-agar is a gelatinous substance derived from a polysaccharide that accumulates in the cell walls of agarophyte red algae. Throughout history into modern times, agar has been chiefly used as an ingredient in desserts throughout Asia and also as a solid substrate to contain culture medium...

 for gelatin.

Marshmallow creme
Marshmallow creme
Marshmallow creme is an American food item. It is a very sweet, spreadable, marshmallow-like confection. Marshmallow creme and peanut butter are used to create a fluffernutter sandwich...

 and other less firm marshmallow products generally contain little or no gelatin, which mainly serves to allow the familiar marshmallow confection to retain its shape. They generally use egg white
Egg white
Egg white is the common name for the clear liquid contained within an egg. In chickens it is formed from the layers of secretions of the anterior section of the hen's oviduct during the passage of the egg. It forms around either fertilized or unfertilized egg yolks...

s instead. Non-gelatin versions of this product may be consumed by ovo vegetarians
Ovo vegetarianism
Ovo vegetarianism is a type of vegetarianism which allows for the consumption of eggs; unlike lacto-ovo vegetarianism, no dairy products are permitted...

. Several brands of vegan marshmallows and marshmallow fluff exist.

See also

  • Chocolate-coated marshmallow treats
  • Chubby Bunny
    Chubby bunny
    Chubby bunny is a recreational game that involves the placement of an increasing number of marshmallows or similar items into one's own mouth and stating a phrase that is intended to be difficult to utter with a filled mouth...

    , children's game involving marshmallows
  • Marshmallow creme
    Marshmallow creme
    Marshmallow creme is an American food item. It is a very sweet, spreadable, marshmallow-like confection. Marshmallow creme and peanut butter are used to create a fluffernutter sandwich...

  • Stay Puft Marshmallow Man

External links