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Roasting marshmallows
Marshmallows rolled over the fire
Jar of marshmallow cream

Marshmallow is a foam sugar product made from sugar (around 75%), egg whites , gelling agents, and flavoring and coloring agents . Marshmallows were originally made from the juice of the roots of the common marshmallow ( Althaea officinalis ). Its name is derived from the English name marshmallow 'swamp mallow ' for this plant. Later the marshmallows were made from gum arabic . Today gelatine is mostly used as a gelling agent for reasons of cost , but marshmallows with kosher fish gelatine or vegetable gelling agents ( agar , carrageenan ) are also available as well as products that do not use gelling agents at all (e.g. marshmallow fluff ). In German-speaking countries, the confectionery is often available under the product name Mausespeck or Mäusespeck .

Historical development and manufacture

The common marshmallow is a medicinal plant that has been used in Europe for a long time. The roots of the marshmallow secrete a sticky, white substance that was also used as a glue in northern Europe before gum arabic and similar sticky substances were used. Medical use can be traced back to at least the 11th century, when candied pieces of marshmallow root were used as a remedy for colds.

Manufacture from marshmallow roots

In the 19th century, European doctors described the manufacture of a cough syrup from marshmallow roots. The French then made lozenges from the marshmallow syrup. French confectioners were the first to use the properties of marshmallow root for culinary rather than medicinal purposes. From whipped egg white, sugar and the sticky ingredients of the marshmallow root, they produced pâte de guimauve , the forerunner of marshmallows. It was not until the beginning of the 20th century that the substances in marshmallow were replaced by gelatine. In its original form, this precursor to marshmallows is still available as marshmallow dough and is said to have a cough-relieving and irritation-relieving effect.

Manufactured from gum arabic

In the sugar confectionery industry, gum arabic is used as an emulsifier and stabilizer; in marshmallows it acts as a foam stabilizer.

Following an 1895 marshmallow recipe, gum arabic was soaked in water until it dissolved. The dissolved gum arabic was then sieved off, impurities removed and stirred together with powdered sugar over a second pot of boiling water until the mixture was thick and white. When the mass thickened, some mass was dropped into cold water as a test. When it formed a solid ball, it was removed from the fire and stiff egg white foam was stirred in to give it a spongy texture. Finally, it was seasoned with orange blossom water.

The paste was then placed in a matching pan covered with cornstarch so that the layer was an inch thick. After twelve hours, the paste was turned down on a plate and cut into squares, dusted well with cornstarch or powdered sugar and packed in boxes.

Industrial manufacture

In the 19th century the marshmallows came to the USA. Until the 1950s, the foam mass was still solidified in molds on corn starch. In 1954, the American entrepreneur Alex Doumakes invented an extrusion and cutting process that reduced the production time from 24 hours to one.


Marshmallows are especially popular in the US, where about Thanksgiving , for example, sweet potatoes with marshmallows are decorated. Often they are heated on a grill before being eaten or rotated (skewered on sticks) over a campfire . Toasted marshmallows are paired with chocolate and cookies to make S'Mores . The marshmallows have their origins in the French pâte de guimauve .


  • In the 1960s, the psychologist Walter Mischel used the marshmallow test . It should be checked whether the children are capable of delaying the reward .
  • In the movie Ghostbusters (1984) and in the cartoon series of the same name , a 30-meter tall “marshmallow man” can be seen.
  • Marshmallow is the namesake for Android version 6.
  • One of the first marshmallow products available in Germany are the "White Mice" from the Aseli company in Berlin, which has been producing and selling them since 1921 until today. It is possible that the common name "mouse bacon" for marshmallow is derived from this.
  • The American DJ and music producer Marshmello wears a marshmallow costume to keep his identity secret.


  • Tim Richardson: Sweets. A history of temptation. Bantam, London 2002, ISBN 0-593-04954-3 .

Web links

Commons : Marshmallows  - collection of pictures, videos and audio files
Wiktionary: Marshmallow  - Explanations of meanings, word origins, synonyms, translations
Wiktionary: Mäusespeck  - explanations of meanings, word origins , synonyms, translations

Individual evidence

  1. ^ A b Darra Goldstein: The Oxford Companion to Sugar and Sweets . Oxford University Press, 2015, ISBN 978-0-19-931339-6 ( [accessed July 18, 2019]).
  2. Handbook of Hydrocolloids . Elsevier, 2009, ISBN 978-1-84569-587-3 , pp. 270 ( [accessed on July 18, 2019]).
  3. ^ Mary Ronald: The Century Cook Book . Ed .: University of California Libraries. New York, The Century Co., 1898, pp. 521-522 ( [accessed July 17, 2019]).
  4. ^ Walter Mischel : The Marshmallow Test: Mastering Self-Control. Little Brown, New York 2014, ISBN 978-0-316-23086-5 . English: The Marshmallow Test: Willpower, Delayed Rewards and Personality Development. Siedler Verlag, Munich 2015, ISBN 978-3-641-11927-0 .
  5. Tomasz Kurianowicz: Marshmallow test: take me! Review in FAZ , November 5, 2014 ( [accessed December 20, 2018]).
  6. Michael Seliger: About Aseli. The story - since 1921. In: Aseli Trade GmbH, January 12, 2017, accessed on January 12, 2017 .