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  Marshmallow Candy Facts, History, Manufacturing and Materials.
 
Marshmallows are, without a doubt, a candy favorite.  Sure, by themselves they may not be as decadent as your favorite chocolate bar, but it’s a safe bet that these simple, fluffy treats hold a special place many hearts.

Marshmallows top off candied yams in the fall and the perfect mug of hot chocolate in the winter.  The emergence of Peeps on store shelves marks the beginning of spring.  Roasting marshmallows over an open fire is a summertime family tradition.  Marshmallows form the delicious “glue” that turns cereal into Rice Crispy treats, and the ingredient that makes everyone want more “smores.”  Which child doesn’t light up when he finds a peanut butter and Fluff sandwich in his lunchbox?

The pillow-like candies come in many different shapes, sizes and colors- even in different flavors.   Most marshmallows found in stores today use gelatin, rather than the traditional powdered marshmallow root, but the name sticks in spite of this.  The use of marshmallow plant in candy dates as far back as ancient Egypt, in recipes that call for combination of the plant’s sap with ingredients such as nuts and sweeteners.  Much later, in early 19th century France, confectioners began to whip and sweeten the sap, which resulted in a treat much like today’s marshmallow.  The later 19th century French invention of a premade, gelatinous base was an important breakthrough for these confectioners, and through marshmallow candy in general.  This base allowed the confectioners to bypass the tedious process of marshmallow plant extraction. Confectioners were able to produce marshmallows more quickly and efficiently to meet growing consumer demand.
  
In 1948, American Alex Doumak invented a process which took marshmallow production to a whole new level of efficiency.  Doumak’s extrusion process allows ingredients to be filtered through tubes, pushed out, or “extruded,” and finally cut, which results in the typical cylindrical marshmallow shape.  This mechanical process is, of course, more efficient than human made marshmallows.

The title of Kraft’s “Jet Puffed” Marshmallow Candy certainly reflects the speed with which these candies are now produced.  The Kraft Food website features several varieties of marshmallow, from seasonal star and bunny shaped puffs, to toasted coconut flavored mallows- even “swirl” flavors!  The website assures the viewer that they’ve got a marshmallow for every occasion- and that certainly seems to be the case!  Kraft also offers creative suggestions to feature the marshmallow in a way that you might not have been previously considered.  “Brain Puff” number 7, Kraft’s playful marshmallow pun on “brain storm, suggests crafting the puffs into decorative accents for desserts and other table settings.

It’s doubtful that anyone misses the presence of actual marshmallow root powder in the candy, which served mostly to bind the other ingredients and yield a soft, chewy consistency.  However, like many other original, plant-based candy ingredients, the marshmallow plant, Althae Oficinalis, did provide some health benefits.  Marshmallow leaves are used to treat intestinal swelling.  The leaves and root extracts have been known to relieve sore throats and soothe respiratory ailments.  The plant also has several external uses, including soothing of minor skin irritations and healing of wounds.  They are known too contain significant amounts of hyaluronic acid, which is associated with better cellular structure and more optimal levels of moisture within the skin.  One thing is for sure.  Regardless of how they’re made, Marshmallows will always be a sweet seasonal favorite.
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