Everyday and everywhere across America, campers and households are toasting to glorious mid-summer evenings — not with wineglasses and beer steins, but with 45 million pounds of marshmallows sandwiched between 110,000 pounds of chocolate (per day) and 4,200,000 graham squares.
A friend who recently returned from a camping trip to the coast mentioned that she and her husband made s’mores every night. At that rate, s’more manufacturing on a national level could contribute to global warming.
According to some casual internet research, on any given summer day 2.1 million s’mores are consumed in America.
Jeffrey Miller, associate professor and program coordinator of Hospitality Management at Colorado State University, recently compiled a history of the humble s’more for The Conversation, starting with a description of how the marshmallow originated. The details called to mind an argument I won once when someone claimed there was nothing organic about a marshmallow. In fact, marshmallows were once made with the root sap of the marsh mallow plant, native to Eurasia and Northern Africa. While it wasn’t intended to satisfy a sweet tooth thousands of years ago, the Egyptians and, later, the Romans and Greeks would boil and sweeten it and use it to cure a variety of ailments from sore throats to inflammation and constipation. It was the French who turned the marshmallow into a delicate puffy treat by whipping it with egg whites and corn syrup so that it could be molded.
But as for the invention of the s’more, most accounts trace it back to the 1927 edition of the “Tramping and Trailing with the Girl Scouts” manual, which contained a recipe named simply “Some Mores” coined after the enthused cry that rang out when the Girl Scouts first tasted them: “Gimme some more!”
According to foodandwine.com that recipe is attributed to troop leader Loretta Scott Crew and provided for 16 Scouts with the following ingredients: 16 graham crackers, eight bars of plain chocolate and 16 marshmallows with directions to toast the marshmallows to a “crispy, gooey state,” stick one on top of a half a chocolate bar and stick that between two graham crackers.
It’s been awhile since I’ve tried building a s’more in my own backyard. But the surfeit of sweetness and calories notwithstanding, who doesn’t love setting a soft, puffy marshmallow aflame briefly before snuffing it out and attempting to successfully land one in the mouth or on a chocolate and graham cracker shingle before it slips off the stick into the fire?
It’s no surprise the s’more has made its way into culinary history, for the treat is a quintessential rite of passage of childhood and has earned its place as a classic piece of Americana.
National S’Mores Day is Aug. 10. Stock up on the essentials and celebrate!