Friday, November 12, 2010

Freckles the Nerd and Marshmallows

So remember that post I made oh, last January? If you have no idea what I'm talking about you should read it because then this post will make a whole lot more sense. I did not keep my resolution but that's ok! Someone recommended marshmallows, and since I'm drinking my first cup of hot chocolate of the season (Ghirardelli no less, delish!) and marshmallows go well with chocolate, off we go! (This is where I wish I were Ms. Frizzle and had a magic school bus)..................Marshmallow candy dates all the way back to 2000 B.C. to Egypt (Egypt had it going on, cool pyramids, marshmallow candy, dang!)
Marshmallows actually, although not surprisingly, come from....plants! And boy they are pretty too.
The marsh mallow plants (althea officinalis) are grow in salty marshes so they can, I liked this, "bask in salt sun." The Egyptians discovered (how? I have no idea. Who thinks of these things? This is probably one of the reasons I'm alive now, when all of this sweet stuff is around. I'm in awe) they could extract the sweet substances and made a confection that was only reserved for the pharaohs and gods. Probably another reason I'm alive now because I would have had to either be royalty or a marshmallow-stealing thief and probably would have gotten killed. I digress (but in all seriousness). The Egyptians would boil the pieces of marsh mallow root pulp with sugar until it thickened and then it was strained, cooled, and mixed with honey, grain, and baked into cakes.

The Healing Powers
Marsh mallow roots and leaves were used for medicinal purposes to treat chest pains, to soothe coughs and sore throats, and as an ointment. It was also used as a laxative and to treat inflammation. Common people only tasted marsh mallows when they took pills; in fact doctors sometimes hid the medicine inside the candy to cover the pill's undesirable taste. BRILLIANT. Applesauce vs. marshmallows, yes I'll take marshmallows please.

Faaaaaaaaaaaast Forward to the 19th century, France
J'adore le Francais! Candy makers in France decided to combine the sap (a binding agent) with egg whites and corn syrup, whip them, heat them and poured into molds. Thus, a yummy confection. However it was expensive and slow because it required casting and molding of each marshmallow. Perhaps the most fascinating part of this is the French candy makers made them by hand. I would have loved to have seen that! But as demand grew for this delectable treat, they had to come up with a quicker method: the starch mogul system. Here's how this beauty works: a machine automatically fills trays with starch about 2 inches thick, then it's evened off and compressed. Next, a printing board, made of plaster, wood, or metal trays shaped to mold marshmallows is pressed into the starch and retracted. Then the space created is filled with hot creme. Delish....

By this time, marshmallows were sold as penny candy. Gelatin and other whipping agents replaced mallow root. In 1948, Mr. Alex Doumak (founder of Campfire Marshmallows) was looking for ways to to speed up production and discovered the "extrusion process," which, of course revolutionized marshmallow production. In the extrusion process, marshmallows are made by piping the fluffy mixture through long tubes and cutting its tubular shape into equal pieces. And today it takes a whoppin' 60 minutes to make one marshmallow.

Now, let's briefly talk about....
1953- Just Born candy company bought Rodda Candy Company, which produced a marshmallow chick. Just Born loved it so much so they...
1954- Mass-produced chicks and voila! Peeps are born
1960s- Just Born starts to manufacture seasonally shaped Peeps
1980s- Just Born releases Marshmallow Peeps Bunny
1995- Peeps were only produced in pink, white, and yellow BUT this year they added the lavender Peep
1998- Blue Peeps
1999- Vanilla-flavored Peeps produced
2000- Strawberry-flavored Peeps
2002- Chocolate-flavored Peeps introduced (it took this long!??!)
1987-present: Gabe still does not like Peeps

*Sacramento, CA is home to an annual Peep Off, a 30-min Peep-eating contest
*All Peeps are created equal....EXCEPT for Peeps Hearts and Peeps Eggs, all bunnies, chicklets, and Peeps animals under the sun are made with a distinct recipe and signature flavor. Peeps hearts have a hint of strawberry added to them, and can only (obviously) be found during Valentine's season. Peeps Eggs are the only vanilla-flavored phenomenon.

And so ends my adventure. Thank you for joining Freckles the Nerd. Please, do come again.

Many thanks to...

Suggestions for my next adventure?


Sarah said...

Smores!! My favorite use of the marshmallow! You are so wonderful Gabe! I just love you. My recommendation for next time? Ice cream. :) You know you want to...

Tracy said...

this entry (which I think it public, if not let me know) is of my friend teaching her daughter how to make homemade marshmallows!

The Gobbles said...

Can I just tell you how much I love that you just posted about peeps?! I love this!