I've always been a hot chocolate with my marshmallow person instead of the other way around. We all know them, but what are marshmallows made of? Though marshmallows may seem pretty futuristic, they've actually been around for a long time. For hundreds of years, the mallow plant was thought to possess healing powers for everything from toothaches and sore throats to wounds and insomnia.

History of Marshmallows

marshmallow, candy, sweet
Avery Nicholson

Reserved for gods and royalty, marshmallows were first enjoyed as a treat by ancient Egyptians as far back as 2000 BC. They squeezed the sap from the mallow plant that grows wild across Asia and Europe in marshes. Though no one really knows what this early treat looked like, it's likely the Egyptians mixed it with fruit and nuts.

Fast forward to the 1800s when the French began whipping the candy into molds. Candy makers had a difficult time keeping up with demand (not surprising). In the late 1800s, they found a better way to create molds with corn starch and replaced the mallow root with gelatin.

Marshmallows came to America around the turn of the century, after the manufacturing process was developed. Today, Americans are the top consumers of this sweet treat.

How Marshmallows Are Made

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Katherine O'Malley

In 1948, Alex Doumak created the system still used today to make what we know as marshmallows. Extrusion, as the process is called, involves pushing the marshmallow mixture through long tubes. The marshmallows are then cut into the cylindrical shape we all associate with the snack. This process also pumped air into the marshmallows, giving them their cloud-like quality.

What Are Marshmallows Made Of?

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Alex Kaneshiro

In the 19th century, marshmallows were made by whipping mallow root, egg whites, and sugar into a fluffy mold. Then, the French added corn starch to the process. Today, the mallow plant extract has been replaced with gelatin, and other common ingredients include corn syrup, corn starch, sugar, and water.  It's sort of amazing how little the process has changed since 2000 B.C

If you're craving marshmallows after reading their delicious history, there are lots of ways you can use them in your cooking. Putting them in a puff pastry roll-up with Nutella makes for an easy treat. Or you could go the traditional and bake them on sweet potatoes or create a unique snack by mixing them with potato chips.

Don't worry, these are just a few things you can make with marshmallows. Try these other 31 creative ways to feast on marshmallows if you're short on ideas.

chocolate, candy, sweet, milk, coffee
Louisa Cacchione

If you haven't realized it yet, marshmallows rock. They're a super innovative food that date back thousands of years. Although they're not the healthiest treat, they're absolutely delicious. Whether you eat them in a s'more or hot chocolate, make sure to enjoy every bite.