Have you ever wondered who came up with S’Mores? Today we are going to do a dive into the history of this amazing treat. Last year we did a small remodel. Part of that process was to purchase new furniture for the space. The furniture store rewarded our spending with a S’Mores maker. It’s essentially a small heating element that you can plug in and toast a marshmallow to perfection.
Every Sunday night we have had a tradition of making S’Mores as a family. We laugh and have a good time while we get to work crafting the perfect S’More. This morning I was getting ready for my run and noticed I had a text from my wife. Apparently she couldn’t sleep in the middle of the night and had S’Mores on her mind. She thought this would make a great concept for an episode. I couldn’t agree more!
Who Came Up With Marshmallows
In order to understand the history of S’Mores as a whole, you have to understand the history of their components. Let’s do a deeper dive into the history behind the marshmallow.
The humble marshmallow has its roots in the ancient world. The mallow plant is found in Europe, West Asia, and Northern Africa. The root could be harvested and would produce a thick sap that could be whipped into a medicinal remedy that was perfect for soothing sore throats and coughs. The ancient Egyptians were the first to document this process. Various parts of the mallow plant were also consumed by the ancient greeks and romans. So the humble marshmallow has been around for ages.
In the early 1800s, candy makers in France decided to get creative. They would whip the sap from the mallow plant with sugar and eggs to produce something very similar to the marshmallow we have today. Leave it to the French to perfect this culinary delight.
In the late 1800s the French began to substitute gelatin or corn starch for the mallow sap. This created a cheaper and less labor intensive way to create something that tasted virtually the same.
It didn’t take long for people to begin toasting these treats over fire. In 1892 the Chicago Daily Tribune ran a letter all about marshmallow roasts:
Marshmallow roasts’ are the newest thing in summer resort diversions. The simplicity of this form of amusement is particularly charming. One buys two or three pounds of marshmallows, invites half a dozen friends, and that is all the preparation required. However a small amount of kindling-wood must be taken along with which to build a small fire in an unfrequented spot on the beach, away from crowds unfamiliar with so refined a species of entertainment. When the fire is blazing merrily, or better still, when it has died down to red embers, each member of the party takes a sharpened stick and affixes upon the end of it a marshmallow.
Simultaneously all those engaged hold their marshmallows over the embers, as close as possible to avoid burning and roast dexterously, so as to brown the marshmallows nicely on all sides. This requires some skill, because marshmallows are highly inflammable and will take fire if not very prudently handled. The…marshmallows…swell up to considerable more their normal size…They are a sort sublimated combination of candy and cake, all in one bite, though the proper fashion is to nibble the roasted marshmallow off the end of the stick. One set consumed, each person pokes the point of his wooden skewer through another marshmallow and the performance is repeated until everybody’s appetite is satisfied Marshmallow roasts are an excellent medium for flirtation…appropriately exhibited by nibbling the marshmallows of each other’s sticks. Accordingly the idea is sure to grow in favor.
Who Came Up With Graham Crackers
Another critical component of a S’More is the graham cracker. Graham crackers got their start as the brain child of Sylvester Graham. He was part of the temperance movement that swept through America in the 1800s. He believed that minimizing pleasure and stimulation of all kinds, along with a vegetarian diet, was how God wanted people to live. If you followed this law, then you would be healthy.
Graham’s preaching was embraced widely during the 1829-1851 cholera pandemic. His followers called themselves Grahamites. His movement was one of the first vegetarian movements. At the core of this vegetarian diet was bread and crackers made from coarsely ground wheat. These were called graham crackers and Graham bread. It is important to understand that Sylvester Graham did not invent graham crackers or Graham bread. However, he did make them widely popular through his teachings.
Graham crackers have been mass produced in the United States since 1898. The National Biscuit Company, or NABISCO, was the first to produce them. It makes sense that a slightly sweet and widely available cracker would be the perfect foundation on which a person could construct the perfect S’More. Mainly because a majority of households already had them on hand.
Hershey’s Chocolate, A Critical Ingredient
Of course you can’t have S’Mores without the chocolate. Hershey’s has long been the chocolate of choice for S’Mores, and they know it! If you go to Hershey’s website you will see countless recipes and variations on the classic S’Mores recipe. One that particularly caught my eye was a strawberry S’More. It is your standard S’Mores recipe with strawberries added. Yum!
In 1893, Milton S. Hershey bought a chocolate press that was left over from the World’s Colombian Exposition. He moved the press to his factory in Pennsylvania and began pumping out bars of chocolate. This chocolate was cheap and portable. It snapped easily into smaller portions. Furthermore, it was the ideal treat to have camping. It was only natural that Hershey’s would find its way onto a S’More.
The First Recorded Recipe of Some-Mores
With marshmallow roasts being a common camping pastime, graham crackers being a cheap and prevalent snack, and Hershey’s being insanely portable, the stage was set for the birth of the S’More. The first recorded recipe for S’Mores appeared in a 1925.
“The Norwalk Hour,” which was a small newspaper in Connecticut, reported that a group of Girl Scout leaders had an outing to outline plans for the upcoming season. In the article it was reported that they ate kabobs and Some-mores. The recipe for kabobs sounds amazing. Cut a steak into cubes then skewer them with bacon and onion. Alternating each ingredient. You then remove the items from the skewer and eat them sandwiched on a well buttered roll. My mouth is watering folks!
The most interesting part of the article is the description of what a Some-more is. The article says, “Some-mores consist of a graham cracker on which is placed a piece of Hershey chocolate, a toasted marshmallow, another piece of chocolate, and a graham cracker.”
So who came up with the S’More? This question could be answered as the Girl Scouts. After all, the first recorded recipe for a S’More was submitted by Girl Scout patrol leaders. However, I think it is safe to assume that the Girl Scouts didn’t have a monopoly on the S’More. I don’t believe that they were the first. However, it embodies the tradition behind a S’More. After all, a S’More will always just taste better around a campfire.
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