Marshmallows are roasted over the fire until they’re gooey. Then graham crackers with pieces of a chocolate candy bar are used to sandwich the gooey roasted marshmallow. Many kids mash the combination together so that the heat from the marshmallow will melt the chocolate.
Marshmallows owe their namesake to a the marsh-mallow plant (Althaea officinalis). It is called the marsh-mallow plant because it grows in marshes!
It is not known exactly when marshmallows were invented, but their history goes back as early as 2000 BC. Ancient Egyptians were said to be the first to make them, and eating them was a privilege strictly reserved for gods and for royalty, who used the root of the plant to soothe coughs and sore throats, and to heal wounds. The first marshmallows were prepared by boiling pieces of root pulp with honey until thick. Once thickened, the mixture was strained, cooled, and then used as intended.
The most popular chocolate for s’mores is the Hershey’s chocolate. In the United States the Hershey’s Milk Chocolate Bar is the 4th best selling candie (after M&M’s, Reese’s Peanut Butter Cups and Snickers).
Graham crackers is treated more like cookies than crackers, although they were both invented for their supposed health benefits, and graham crackers are sweet. A graham cracker originated in the United States in the mid-19th Century, with commercial development from about 1880. It is eaten as a snack food, usually honey- or cinnamon-flavored, and is used as an ingredient in some foods.
Like savoring a slice of watermelon, licking popsicles and eating dozens of hot dogs, making s’mores is a summer food.
And while the first official recipe appeared 90 years ago, the undocumented tradition of the s’more may have started earlier.
There are a few of potential precursors to the modern-day iteration of s’mores we know today. Victorian-era funeral cakes, specially-prepared upon the death of a loved one, sometimes included chocolate and marshmallow.
During the 1890s, a marshmallow roasting fad took hold of summer resort towns in the Northeast. Places like Asbury Park in New Jersey hosted them, often drawing a young crowd especially since newspapers at the time called the roasts an “excellent medium for flirtation” since people could nibble off each other’s sticks. Mallomars, which are essentially s’mores in cookie form, first appeared on shelves in 1913. Moonpies debuted a few years later and are also basically a s’more cousin.
S’more is a contraction of the phrase “some more”. No one knows for sure who invented the s’more. However, the first published recipe for “some mores” was in a 1927 publication called Tramping and Trailing with the Girl Scouts. Loretta Scott Crew, who made them for Girl Scouts by the campfire, is given credit for the recipe.
The original 1827 recipe (for 8) calls for eight sticks, 16 graham crackers, 8 bars of plain chocolate (each broken in half), and 16 marshmallows. “Toast two marshmallows over the coals to a crisp gooey state and then put them inside a graham cracker and chocolate bar sandwich. The heat of the marshmallow between the halves of chocolate bar will melt the chocolate a bit.”
The contracted term “s’mores” appears in conjunction with the recipe in a 1938 publication aimed at summer camps. A 1956 recipe uses the name “S’Mores”, and lists the ingredients as “a sandwich of two graham crackers, toasted marshmallow and 1⁄2 chocolate bar”. A 1957 Betty Crocker cookbook contains a similar recipe under the name of “s’mores”.
The 1958 publication Intramural and Recreational Sports for High School and College makes reference to “marshmallow toasts” and “s’mores hikes” as does its related predecessor, Intramural and Recreational Sports for Men and Women, published in 1949.
Nowadays alternative fillings for s’mores include everything from raspberry jam to peanut butter, hazelnut butter, Nutella, caramel, and lemon curd – substitutes for graham crackers include chocolate chip cookies and wheat crackers.
If you don’t have access to a campfire, you can always make s’mores at home in your kitchen. Of course, a big part of the fun of making s’mores is roasting marshmallows over an open fire. Just be sure an adult is around when deciding to roast marshmallows for s’mores!
The largest s’more is 155.58 kg, and was achieved by Planetary Matters (USA) in Middlesex, Vermont, USA, on 28 December 2019. This attempt took place at Winter S’morestice, an annual community event in Middlesex, Vermont.
The most people making s’mores simultaneously is 801, and was achieved by the Girl Scouts of Middle Tennessee/Williamson County (USA) in Brentwood, Tennessee, USA, on 10 August 2018. The record was attempted to celebrate National S’mores Day and to teach the Girl Scouts about fire safety.
The U.S. Department of Agriculture, cautioning that the traditional s’more is hardly a healthy snack, proposes substituting low-fat vanilla yogurt and strawberries for the chocolate and marshmallow. The graham crackers, says the government, are still OK.