Special Feature: Products Sally Recommends

Candy Store Marshmallows

by Sally Bernstein

Sally's Five Favorite U.S. Artisan Marshmallow Makers

Marshmallows is the food of the gods—at least according to the ancient Egyptians, who feasted on the gooey sweets as early as 2000 B.C. Made from the mallow plant that grows wild in marshes, a la “marshmallow,” the treat has taken many turns in its long history. The Egyptians squeezed sap from the plant, then mixed it with honey and nuts. But it was the 19th-century French who parlayed nature’s delight it into the fluffy, white stuff we know and love today. Local candy-store owners would whip the sap from the mallow root into candy molds. Delicious, but arduous, the candy makers decided to streamline ops, developing a system that used new marshmallow molds made of modified cornstarch and replaced the mallow root with gelatin, thereby creating the modern-day marshmallow.

By the early 1900s, marshmallows became all the rage in the U.S. In 1948, Alex Doumak mainstreamed the mallow-making process by sending the ingredients through tubes and cutting them into pieces, like those you buy from Kraft. Since then, fads have come and gone, but the marshmallow retained its popularity. Add them to hot chocolate, down Hostess Snowballs and roast them over open flames. At Thanksgiving, they are a welcomed topping to sweet potato pie and yam casseroles. Americans are the No. 1 consumers of marshmallows in the world, taking in more than 90 million pounds a year. The modern answer to the age-old treat involves lots of flavoring and chocolate—in effect, the marshmallows have become gourmet. Sally Bernstein, editor-in-chief and founder of sallybernstein.com, a food lover’s Web site, picked the 5 best marshmallow makers.

Lillie Belle Farms, Jacksonville, Oregon
It makes a light and fluffy organic vanilla bean marshmallow with organic sugar and enrobed in dark organic chocolate of high quality. These are sold seasonally from December through March in 12 count boxes.

Aida Candies, Burlingame, CA
In addition to carrying a wide variety of old-fashioned and novelty candies, Aida has an award-winning Raspberry Rocky Road, with raspberry flavoring in the marshmallow. Another favorite: marshmallow squares in chocolate and raspberry flavor, dipped in both milk and dark chocolate.

Kegg’s, Houston, Texas
Have two delicious marshmallow products available all year: vanilla marshmallow squares dipped in milk or dark chocolate and a Pecan Hash with pecans, marshmallows and milk chocolate.

Split Bean Coffee, Van Nuys, CA
Their handmade marshmallow process takes several days to complete. Split Bean Coffee offers three varieties: plain vanilla, the variety flavors collection (these vary with the season an can include green tea, coconut, pineapple, saffron and rose petal) and chocolate-covered vanilla marshmallows. An actual shop plans to open next spring. For now, it is Web-based: www.splitbeancoffee.com.

Plush Puffs, Sherman Oaks, CA
Available at many Los Angeles retail locations and online at www.plushpuffs.com, these marshmallows come in six tantalizing flavors: chocolate chipetta, caramel swirl, maple pecan, peppi-mint, orange honey and toasted coconut. They also sell vanilla bean marshmallows, S’mores and Fondue Kits.

This article first appeared in Travel Savvy magazine in November/December, 2005.

Additional information:

Lillie Belle Farms
1345 Daisy Creek Road
Jacksonville, Oregon 97530

Aida Candies
1375 Burlingame Avenue
Burlingame, CA 94010

4844 Beechnut
Houston, Texas 77096

Split Bean Coffee
Van Nuys, CA

Plush Puffs
5341 Natick Avenue
Sherman Oaks, CA 91411

Note: This information was accurate when it was published. Please be sure to confirm all rates and details directly with the businesses in question before making your plans.

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