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S'mores Through Time: A Delectable Dive into the Ancient Roots of a Modern Treat

The Sweet Story Behind S'mores: A Campfire Classic's Delectable Origins

When you think of the perfect campfire treat, one delightful creation that comes to mind is the s'more. With its gooey marshmallow, melty chocolate, and crispy graham crackers, it's a quintessential outdoor snack loved by generations. But have you ever wondered about the origins of this beloved delicacy? The history of s'mores is a fascinating tale that combines the love for simplicity, creativity, and the joy of gathering around a crackling fire.

The Birth of the Name

S'mores, short for "some more," aptly describes the irresistible allure of these treats. The term was first documented in the 1920s, appearing in a 1927 publication of the Girl Scouts' handbook, "Tramping and Trailing with the Girl Scouts."

"Originally intended to feed eight hungry scouts, the recipe, which was later credited to a troop leader named Loretta Scott Crew, calls for 16 graham crackers, eight bars of plain chocolate, and 16 marshmallows. Next, it says to toast the marshmallows to a "crispy, gooey state." Then, put the marshmallow on top of a chocolate bar and in between two graham crackers, and violà, you got a "Some More." - via Food and Wine.

It's unknown when the name was shortened to "s'more," it's likely that this name emerged organically from the joyful experience of wanting another serving after devouring the first.

Graham Crackers: A Healthful History

The s'more's foundation lies in the graham cracker. Created by Reverend Sylvester Graham in the early 19th century, graham crackers were initially invented as a tool to diminish sexual impulses.

Graham was a Presbyterian minister, whose views on food, sex, alcohol, and nutrition would seem a bit extreme to people today.

"He believed the food we were eating greatly contributed to our undeterred need to have sex. A simple steak dinner with wine could, according to an 1847 text he wrote, "increase the concupiscent excitability ... of the genital organs." So, he promoted a special process of baking using only "finely ground, unbleached wheat flour, wheat bran, and coarsely ground germ." Out of this came a bland, dry cracker that he named after himself: the graham cracker." - via Food and Wine.

However, it didn't take long for people to transform these simple crackers into a delectable canvas for creativity.

Marshmallows: From Sap to S'more

The origin of marshmallows can be traced back to ancient times, where they were initially derived from the root sap of the marsh mallow plant (Althaea officinalis). The plant's sap, when mixed with honey or other sweeteners, was used to create a confection with a soft, chewy texture. In ancient Egypt, marsh mallow sap was used for medicinal purposes, often to help with inflammation and other ailments. The Greeks and Romans also used the plant for similar purposes. In fact, the word "Althaea" comes from the Greek "altheo" meaning "to cure."

Over the centuries, the recipe evolved, eventually leading to the modern marshmallow we know today. These sweet, fluffy confections found their way onto sticks and into campfires, creating the perfect gooey layer for the s'more.

Chocolate's Integration

The final and perhaps most crucial layer of the s'more is chocolate. The incorporation of chocolate into s'mores is often attributed to the Hershey Company's success in mass-producing affordable chocolate bars in the early 20th century. This accessibility allowed chocolate to become a staple ingredient in countless desserts, including the s'more.

Shared Traditions

The beauty of the s'more lies not only in its delicious components but also in the shared traditions it fosters. From backyard bonfires to summer camps, families and friends have bonded over the process of toasting marshmallows, assembling the layers, and savoring the final creation. This sense of community and shared experience has helped solidify the s'more's place in our hearts and culture.

In every bite of a s'more, there's a trace of history, creativity, and joy. This campfire classic has humble origins rooted in the simplicity of graham crackers, the indulgence of chocolate, and the sweetness of marshmallows. As you gather around a fire with loved ones, roasting marshmallows to golden perfection and crafting your own s'more masterpiece, take a moment to appreciate the rich history that has led to this beloved treat's enduring popularity. So next time you hear the call for "s'more," remember the sweet story behind this timeless delight.

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