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Tuesday, July 19, 2005
We don't think it will shock you to discover that marsmallows are not a natural substance. No, marshmallows don't grow on trees, vines or underground.

But they weren't invented out of whole cloth, either. For there is a mallow plant. The first culture that we know to have eaten the mallow plant was in ancient Egypt, long before the reign of Cleopatra. Egyptians dried and pulverized the plant and considered it a delicacy.

But marshmallows as we know them weren't possible until someone came up without he idea of combining the mallow plant with sugar, and it was almost certainly an accident. Sugars first use was as a way of making medicines more palatable, but a recurring problem was the tendency of sugar to crystallize. In India, they solved the problem by using gum arabic, but some countries did not have access to this form of gum. When boiled in hot water, the ground roots of the mallow plant turned out to be an effective gum. Combined with sugar, the first marshmallow was born.

The French were the first to turn marshmallows into a confection for the masses. Kraft Foods supplied a report researched by the Marshmallow Research Foundation (there is a foundation or association for just about anything).

"The marshmallow in its present fluffy form originated in France and was known as "Pate de Guimauve" As made in the early nineteenth century, it contained the extract of the marshmallow root, dried and reduced to a powder. A light cream in color, the genuine marshmallow base contained starch, sugar, pectin, asparagine and a substance allied to lecithin."

"The original marshmallow formula called for the flowing proportions --- five pounds of powdered marshmallow root, 50 pounds ground sugar, 30 pounds ground gum arabic, 60 pounds orange flower water and 70 or more egg whites. European manufactures of medicinal confectionery still use this formula. However, because marshmallow root reputedly possessed medicinal properties, it was early abandoned by confectioners as a necessary marshmallow ingredient".

mallow trees were naturalized in the salt marshes of the United States not long after they were introduced in Europe. At first, mallow root was used, but later was abandoned in order to save money and replaced by a combination of gum arabic and egg white.

Today, you can buy big marshmallows, little marshmallows, chocolate marshmallos, and coconut marshmallows. But you cannot find a marshmallow with mallow in it. We are left in the strange situation of eating a product that named after an ingredient that is no longer in it.

(submitted by Deb Buschur of Indianapolis, Indiana on the book: WHY ARE HYENAS LAUGHING AT, ANYWAY by: David Feldman)
posted by infraternam meam @ 1:13 AM  
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Name: infraternam meam
Home: Chicago, United States
About Me: I am now at the prime of my life and have been married for the past 25 years. Sickly at times, but wants to see the elixir vita, so that I will be able to see my grandchildren from my two boys.
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