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9 Things You Didn’t Know About Marshmallows

Marshmallows, the darling basis of the near-choke game of Chubby Bunny and only thinkable snack of forest storytelling, are strange. Their spongy consistency and alien-like, modernist take on confectionary art make it a unique munchie that you can use for hot cocoa, fruit dip, or sweet potatoes. But there’s some things about marshmallows you may not know.

1. For centuries, marshmallow sap has treated toothaches, digestive issues, coughs, and sore throats.

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While there’s no epic dictionary-sized report about the medical practice, people — we’re talkin’ the Egyptians, the Romans, and the Greeks here — have been known to use sap from the marshmallow plant (althaea officinalis) as a go-to remedy, typically in tea form. Even modern-day marshmallows can potentially ease sore throat pain, given the gelatin’s ability to coat and smooth.

2. Astronauts have been known to use marshmallows as nose plugs.

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Due to the detrimental pressure of lift off, astronauts have periodically used marshmallows to keep their nasal membranes from being wrecked to all hell. With marshmallows pushed up their nose, the fluffy white snacks would expand in cabin decompression without the astronaut’s nose sustaining damage.

3. Marshmallows were once considered a delicacy for nobility, pharaohs, and gods.

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Photo Credit: PriorCylone Creator: Beate Holozaen

These days, marshmallows are associated with kids, from campfire snacks to whatever the heck Peeps count as. But a millenia ago, mallo sap was used to create candied delicacies that also included honey and grains, and they weren’t for children. Actually, they weren’t even for many adults. The sweet snack was for nobility, pharaohs, and gods, while the youths of Egypt had to rely on natural sugary offerings like figs.

4. Marshmallows, as you know them, were created by France and perfected by Illinois.

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In the 1800s, the French crafted the modern marshmallow when chefs realized they could whip marshmallow saw with egg whites and corn syrup to create a moldable snack. In the 1940s, Alex Doumak revolutionized the process by running the ingredients through tubes before cutting them into equal pieces and packaging them up.

5. Althaiophobia is the legitimate fear of marshmallows.

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Photo Credit: Gage Skidmore

Althaiophobia, the fear of marshmallows, is a real thing, and the Stay Puft Marshmallow Man is likely considered to be the antichrist of said circle.

6. The amount of marshmallows that Americans buy each year is the equivalent of 1,286 gray whales.

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Photo Credit: Fuzzy Gerdes

That’s right. U.S. residents annually purchase roughly 90 million pounds of marshmallows, and they spent a total of $143.27 million this year.

7. There’s an actual National Toasted Marshmallow Day.

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The tasty holiday is August 30th. It makes sense, given that more than half of all marshmallows sold in the summertime are toasted over a fire.

8. The largest s’more ever made weighs 267 pounds.

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Made on May 31, 2014, in Gardners Pennsylvania, the largest s’more ever — as currently recognized by Guinness — came to be in 4.5 hours at the Deer Run Camping Resort with the help of 104 volunteers.

9. Just Born makes enough peeps to circle the Earth twice every year.

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Peep, the beloved Easter marshmallow confection, has changed a lot — or at least its process has. Back in 1953, it took 27 hours to create a single peep, whereas now it only takes six minutes. The eyes were hand painted too in the beginning. These days, machines paint eyes for 3,500 peeps per minute.

By Jake Kilroy

Raised by handsome wolves, Jake Kilroy is a liberal atheist vegan, so he’s naturally adored and celebrated at any dinner party he attends. Follow him on Twitter at @jakekilroy.

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