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Were Marshmallows Once Used as Medicine?

"Did You Know That Marshmallows Were Once Used for Medicinal Purposes?"

Were Marshmallows Once Used as Medicine?

When Were Marshmallows Invented?

The Origins of Marshmallows

Marshmallows were initially made by boiling down the root sap of the marshmallow plant and mixing it with honey and nuts. This sweet concoction was considered a luxury reserved for the pharaohs of Ancient Egypt. In Europe, marshmallow sap was used as a remedy for sore throats and coughs.

The marshmallow plant was grown throughout Europe, Asia, and the Middle East but its rise in popularity can be traced back to France during the 19th century. French confectioners whipped the sap into a fluffy meringue and replaced the honey and nuts with sugar and flavorings. This new form of marshmallow was marketed as a sweet treat for the wealthy.

The First Marshmallow Recipe

The first recorded recipe for marshmallows was published in an American cookbook in the mid-1800s. It consisted of marshmallow root, sugar, and egg whites whipped together into a foamy batter. The mixture was then set in molds and dusted with corn starch to prevent stickiness.

However, making marshmallows at home was a time-consuming and labor-intensive process. Each marshmallow had to be individually hand-cut and coated with starch to prevent them from sticking together. This made them an expensive treat that was only enjoyed on special occasions.

The Industrial Revolution and Marshmallows

The Industrial Revolution changed the way marshmallows were produced by introducing the extrusion process. This process allowed for the mass production of marshmallows by easily and quickly mixing the ingredients together and then pressing them through machines to shape and cut them. The extrusion process removed the need for labor-intensive hand cutting and coating with starch. As a result, marshmallows became more affordable and accessible to the general public.

In the early 1900s, the marshmallow began evolving once again. Alexander Doumak, an American candy maker, invented the extrusion process that allowed for the production of the familiar cylindrical shape with a hollow center. This new shape of marshmallow allowed for further flavor innovation with the introduction of fillings like chocolate and caramel. The cylindrical marshmallow gained popularity on its own, as well, and was enjoyed roasted over campfires and melted into hot chocolate.


Marshmallows have come a long way since their humble beginnings as a medicinal concoction in Ancient Egypt. Today, they are a beloved treat enjoyed by people around the globe in a variety of shapes, sizes, and flavors. The advent of the extrusion process during the Industrial Revolution revolutionized the production of marshmallows and made them more affordable and accessible to people of all social backgrounds.

Did you know that video recording has a long and fascinating history? Explore it further in our article on the invention of video recording.

The Evolution of Marshmallows

Marshmallows have come a long way since their humble beginnings. Originally, marshmallows were made from the root sap of the marshmallow plant, which was mixed with honey and nuts by the ancient Egyptians. The mixture eventually made its way to the French, who replaced the nuts with egg whites and sugar, creating a fluffy, marshmallow-like texture.

However, it wasn't until the 19th century that the modern marshmallow as we know it was invented. French candy makers started using gelatin instead of the marshmallow plant's root sap, which made the candy more stable and easier to produce in large quantities.

Marshmallows in the Early 20th Century

Marshmallows continued to grow in popularity throughout the early 20th century, becoming a popular confectionery treat in the United States. During this time, marshmallows were incorporated into other food items as well, such as salads and desserts. Companies like Campfire, Jet-Puffed, and Kraft introduced their own versions of marshmallows, which became staples in American households.

During the 1920s and 30s, marshmallows were used in various advertising campaigns, showcasing their versatility and popularity. The candy was also used as a sweetener in cough syrups and as a binding agent in other medicines.

Modern Marshmallows

In the modern era, marshmallows have evolved beyond the typical white, cylindrical shape. Now, there are a plethora of different flavors and shapes of marshmallows available. Companies such as The Marshmallowist and Madyson's Marshmallows offer artisanal marshmallows in unique flavors like lavender, rose, and pumpkin spice. Flavored marshmallows have also taken the world by storm, with options like chocolate, strawberry, and vanilla.

In addition, giant marshmallows have become a trend, with companies like XO Marshmallow offering oversized marshmallows perfect for toasting over a campfire or using in recipes. Marshmallows have also been used in unconventional ways, such as in s'mores-flavored candies and as a topping in breakfast cereal.

The Use of Marshmallows in Pop Culture and Beyond

Marshmallows have become a pop culture icon, with their fluffy texture and unique taste making them an appealing treat. They have been featured in movies, TV shows, and other media, such as Ghostbusters, where Stay-Puft Marshmallow Man became a fan favorite. Marshmallows have also been used in science experiments, such as the Marshmallow Challenge, where teams compete to build the tallest structure using only marshmallows and spaghetti noodles.

Over the years, marshmallows have become so much more than just a candy. They have transformed into a symbol of innovation, creativity, and fun. With so many different flavors, shapes, and uses, it's safe to say that the humble marshmallow has come a long way!

If you're interested in the history of invention, you might also like to read about the first tractor in history.

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