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What are marshmallows made of?


Let's gather around the campfire for this one! A TPL Kids visitor is wondering what marshmallows are made of.

There's a marshmallow plant that grows in, you guessed it, marshy areas. It was used as medicine for thousands of years. Alas, the gooey chewy candy we love to put in our hot chocolate does not grow on marshmallow plants. (Well, maybe in Willy Wonka's chocolate factory...)

The ancient Egyptians made a sweet treat using sap from marshmallow roots. In the 19th century, French candymakers mixed the roots with sugar and egg whites to create a fancy dessert. Marshmallow snacks used to be very expensive. As the price of sugar went down, they became cheaper to produce in mass.

The modern marshmallows we can buy in stores? Most of them don't have any extract from the marshmallow plant. Instead, they are made from corn syrup, dextrose and gelatin. Machines puff extra air into them so that they are fluffy and pillowy. Sure, they're not very nutritious, but s'mores just aren't the same without them. We can toast a marshmallow to that!

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