Tuesday, January 15, 2019

The 2000 Year old Marshmallow

I doubt you've lost any sleep wondering where the yummy marshmallows came from that we use in summer smores to holiday jello salads, but I thought it was a an interesting history nugget you might enjoy reading about.

Marshmallows today are made from four simple ingredients, sugar, gelatin, water, and air. But over 2000 years ago in Ancient Egypt the recipe for marshmallows were much different. The ancient Egyptians discovered the mallow plant found in salty marshes near large bodies of water--thus the name--marshmallow. Mallow is a native plant to Europe and Asia and grow from 2 to 4 feet in height.  
By Franz Eugen Köhler, Köhler's Medizinal-Pflanzen - List of Koehler Images, Public Domain, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=255266

This extraordinary treat was considered very special and reserved for gods, nobility, pharaohs, and royalty. It was illegal for anyone else to eat the sweet candied delicacy. They harvested the mallow plant and squeezed the sap from it before mixing the sap with nuts and honey. We don't know exactly what this treat actually looked like. 

                                      By Victor M. Vicente Selvas - Own work, CC0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=17612621

Beyond the delicious candy the mallow plant was used for medicinal purposes and believed to heal sore throats and aches and pains. Moving forward to the 15th and 16th century the candy marshmallow pf the ancient times turned to a liquid that was used as a treatment for sore throats, coughs, indigestion, toothaches, and diarrhea. There is some belief that the marshmallow was used as a sort of love potion, too. 

Jump forward another 200 years to the 1800's and to France where they discovered that cooking and whipping the marshmallow sap with egg whites and corn syrup created a delicious candy treat that was easy to mold. This was a time-consuming process requiring a lot of elbow grease. 

Author Benefitu2 license https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/4.0/deed.en
The demand was so high that candy makers had a hard time keeping up with the demand for this sweet treat which sent them searching for a new way to make marshmallows. The new process they came up with replaced the mallow sap with gelatin. One hundred years later in the 19th century the sweet treat became popular in the United States and was sold as a penny candy in tiny tins.

By John Morgan - https://www.flickr.com/photos/24742305@N00/2256639109, CC BY 2.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=27034853

Boyer Brothers experimented with a marshmallow crème covered in chocolate, developing one of my favorite candies, the Mallo Cup. 

In the mid-1900's marshmallow manufacturing took a new and revolutionary turn creating the process that gives us the marshmallow forms we are familiar with today.

And now you know the rest of the story. Enjoy your next smore with a smile because you know its history. 

The Perfect Bride
Avice Touchet has always dreamed of marrying for love and that love would be her best friend, Philip Greslet. She’s waited five years for him to see her as the woman she’s become but when a visiting lord arrives with secrets that could put her father in prison, Avice must consider a sacrificial marriage.

Philip Greslet has worked his whole life for one thing—to be a castellan—and now it is finally in his grasp. But when Avice rebuffs his new lord’s attentions, Philip must convince his best friend to marry the lord against his heart’s inclination to have her as his own.

Debbie Lynne Costello is the author of Sword of Forgiveness, Amazon's #1 seller for Historical Christian Romance. She has enjoyed writing stories since she was eight years old. She raised her family and then embarked on her own career of writing the stories that had been begging to be told. She and her husband have four children and live in upstate South Carolina with their 5 horses, 3 dogs, cat and miniature donkey.
Connect with Debbie Lynne:
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  1. Interesting! I've often thought of trying to make homemade marshmallows. Apparently, like most homemade treats they are far superior to the store version. Thanks for giving us the history!

    1. I bet they are! If you try them be sure to let me know how they are! Maybe I'll give it a try. :)

  2. wow this is really interesting about the marshmallow. Thanks for sharing with us.

    1. Hey Lori. I'm glad you enjoyed the post. My son actually ran across some trivia and I found it fascinating so did some digging. Who knew marshmallows could make such an interesting post!

  3. Fun post---who woulda thought. And, I sure remember Mallo-cups....one of those very bad things for you that were VERY good!, lol.

    1. Sandi, my sister-in-law brought a large package down at Christmas and they taste just like I remembered them!