A Brief History of Marshmallows

Marshmallows go as far back as Ancient Egypt when the sap of the mallow plant was added to honey to be enjoyed as confectionery by Pharaohs and nobility. The sap was extracted from the root of the mallow plant, which grows on river banks and salt marshes – hence the name. The Egyptians, Greeks and Romans also used the mallow sap to cure sore throats and pains.

A Brief History of Marshmallows
Mallow Root – Source

It wasn’t until the mid-1800’s in France that it became a popular sweet treat. Confectioners would whip the mallow root sap with sugar and egg white and sold it as both a bar and individual sweets a process referred to as Pâté de Guimauve.  A growth in popularity led to an alternative being sought and as the mallow root wasn’t easily accessible, confectioners replaced it with gelatin.

Since then, marshmallows have come to be pink, white and fairly flavourless sweets that are added to hot chocolate, rocky roads or sweet potatoes for an American Thanksgiving dish (the jury is firmly out on that front). You might also have enjoyed a s’more or at least seen one on an American film or television show.  It involves toasting a marshmallow over a campfire or barbecue and then squishing it between Graham Crackers (think Digestive biscuits) with a thin square of chocolate, to create a gooey yet delicious dessert.

Our history with marshmallows doesn’t date back as far ancient Egypt or Paris in the 1800’s. Caffrey’s, a family confectioner, has been turning out delicious mallow treats for seventy years. We all have childhood memories of one of their gooey snowballs as kids and what’s Christmas without one of their Kimberly biscuits?

A Brief History of Marshmallows
The Humble Kimberly – Source

Over the past few years, there has been a growth in gourmet marshmallows. I set up Delish Melish a few years ago, selling different flavoured marshmallows and meringues from a stall in Honest 2 Goodness market in Glasnevin. I had been living in London for the ten years previous but was ready to move back to Dublin and do something new and having tasted stunning marshmallows from London Marshmallow Co. at Broadway Market, I was hooked and set about developing flavours an array of flavours.

Since then you might have enjoyed our marshmallows, meringues and s’mores at Electric Picnic, Ploughing Championships or at weddings in Kilshane House or The Millhouse, Slane. Our signature flavours include Peanut Butter & Dark Chocolate, Lemon Curd and Strawberry and Basil but for our bespoke service for PR companies and weddings we’ve matched the marshmallows to paint colours and event created a dolphin shaped Dingle Gin flavoured marshmallow for a Dingle wedding.

I guess they’ve come a long way since the time of Cleopatra.

A Brief History of Marshmallows
Delish Melish – Alan Rowlette Photography – Source

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