As summer ends, so does the time for s’mores, at least for some people. In my family, we will eat s’mores all year round and make them in the microwave if we don’t have an open fire. However, the peak place for the gooey treat is outside, on a cool evening, surrounded by friends. Who came up with the recipe of graham crackers, marshmallows, and chocolate?
Let’s start from the outside and work our way in. Graham crackers get their name from Rev. Sylvester Graham, a minister known as the father of vegetarianism in America. He was a health nut more than anything else, and preached that only a strict diet of vegetables, pure water, and homemade wheat bread would lead to good health and godliness. He did not invent the graham cracker or get any money from its production, so it appears that the crackers were just an attempt to market to his followers. Graham himself would be horrified at how processed and sweetened graham crackers are.
The history of chocolate is too long to get into here, but for many years, Americans couldn’t figure out how to make milk chocolate like the Europeans. In 1899, Milton Hershey developed a method and the next year, started mass-producing milk chocolate bars. Hershey bars remain one of the most popular candy bars in the country.
Last, but not least, we have marshmallows. Originally, marshmallows were prepared with the mallow root. Ancient Egyptians mixed the root’s sap with honey and grains for cakes. The French were the ones to come up with the classic marshmallow. They whipped the sap with egg whites, sugar, and then molded them into squares. It took a long time to prepare, so marshmallows were expensive delicacies. Once confectioners figured out how to use gelatin instead of sap, they became much more affordable.
Putting it together
The first printed recipe for s’mores using graham crackers, marshmallows, and a Hershey bar appears in a Girl Scouts recipe book from 1927. Since recipes usually appear in print much later than when they were first conceived, it’s safe to say that s’mores had been around for a while. They aren’t going anywhere anytime soon, either.