The history of the s’more

By Cele & Lynn Seldon

Nothing goes better with a summer full of camping and barbecuing than finishing it off with America’s favorite campfire treat: s’mores. The ooey, gooey confection combining roasted marshmallows, chocolate, and graham crackers is best enjoyed around the campfire with friends and family. 

Although the exact origin of this taste treat is often disputed, ‘Some Mores’ were first mentioned in a 1927 Girl Scouts guidebook called Tramping and Trailing with the Girl Scouts. With basic instructions to “toast two marshmallows over coals to a crisp gooey state and then put them inside a graham cracker and chocolate bar sandwich,” the delectable craze was born. The contraction of ‘s’mores’ is credited to William Henry Gibson in his 1938 guide, Recreational Programs for Summer Camps. And the rest, as they say, is history.

S'mores
S’mores

There is much discussion on the proper way to make a s’more, starting with the stick. Some say that a straight stick long enough to reach the fire without burning your hands and found around the campsite is the legit way to go. Others insist that unbending a wire coat hanger to use as a roasting spit is the only way to go. And, still others, swear by the modern roasting sticks designed specifically for the purpose that can be found on the internet.

The consensus on marshmallows is much less contentious. Made mostly of corn syrup, sugar, water, starch, and gelatin, Americans buy more than 90 million pounds of marshmallows annually and 50 percent of them are toasted over a fire, according to the National Confectioners Association. The big debate with marshmallows is how to toast them. There’s the rotate frequently until it’s lightly golden on all sides camp. Then there’s the hover over the flame and let the sugars caramelize and char slightly. And then, of course, there are the firebrands who set their puff on fire and blow out the flame once its fully burnt. Whichever method you subscribe to, it takes practice and finesse to get it exactly right.

Family around a campfire roasting marshmallows
Family around a campfire roasting marshmallows

The straightforward Hershey chocolate bar is often the typical candy chosen, but forward thinkers have gotten creative with white chocolate, dark chocolate, flavored chocolates, like Ghirardelli’s® raspberry or caramel squares, or even Reese’s® Cups. Similarly, traditional graham crackers are typically the cookie of choice, but who’s to say that an Oreo® or Biscotti isn’t a delicious option.

S’mores are big business today. Google it and you’ll find all kinds of s’mores accoutrement for sale, including s’mores kits with everything you need for hosting a proper s’mores bar, roasting sticks, tabletop s’mores makers (for those times when a campfire isn’t possible), s’mores caddies, and so much more. Restaurants, dessert shops, snack manufacturers and breweries have even joined the party with s’mores desserts, cookies, cupcakes, cereals, ice creams, cocktails, and beers gracing their menus. And, there is even a National S’mores Day come the dog days of summer (August 10, 2022) to pay homage and celebrate this family treat. 

So, this summer, go camping, light a campfire and toast to this tasty Americana confection!