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COLUMN: Summer food 's'more delicious' with a campfire

A quintessential summer classic, the s'more got the gourmet treatment by culinary students and grads, and Chef Daniel Clements gives a marshmallow history lesson

Summer is in full swing, and for our family, that means it's time to hit the campground.

I can hardly imagine a night spent around a campfire without one of my personal favourites: the classic s’more. This simple treat is deeply ingrained in our collective memories. It's hard to find anyone who does not have a story or opinion on this treat.

Did you know that the history of the s’more dates back as far as the early 1900s? Or that marshmallows were being roasted in the late 1800s? Or better yet, that the marshmallow is a confection that has been around for over 200 years?

The history of the s’more begins with a plant called “marsh mallow,” which grows in swampy, marshy regions of the world. It has a super sticky, thick, white sap. The sap was mostly used for medicinal purposes, often as a remedy for sore throats.

In the early history the root of the marsh mallow plant was combined with sugar, making it sweet and perhaps the first rendition of a throat lozenge. Fast-forward to the early 1800s and the French decided to transform the cure into confection.

Campfires bring people together, s'mores add to the experience. Contributed photo

The marsh mallow sap was combined with egg whites and sugar to create what we now know marshmallows to be — a super sweet, soft, fluffy and, when melted, deliciously addictive gooey treat.

According to Tim Richardson’s account in Sweets: A History of Candy, in the late 1800s, the mallow sap was replaced by a less expensive and more readily available ingredient, gelatin.

The gelatin was used in marshmallows to hold their shape, and the modern marshmallows we know today were born. This process significantly reduced the cost thereby making them easily accessible to everyone.

Community marshmallow roasts quickly became popular social activities and groups would gather to enjoy these sweet summertime festivities. And as is in our nature with roasting marshmallows becoming popular, so did the daring exploration of their uses.

Loretta Scott Crew first dubbed s’mores as “Some More” in 1927 in Tramping and Trailing with the Girl Scouts.

The simple recipe directs readers to roast marshmallows on a stick over a campfire and press them between two graham crackers and a piece of a chocolate bar, like a sandwich. The recipe also says something like, “while the recipe is called ‘some more,’ eating one is enough.” And the s’more was born!

This summer our Georgian College team wanted to put a fancier twist on the summertime classic. With our college slogan being “Experience More” it was obvious that everyone is looking for “s'more”

The s'more flavour contest gave our college community a chance to win a pair of VIP weekend passes, including parking, to Tall Pines Music and Arts Festival held this past June 16 and 17 in Gravenhurst.

And in collaboration with our marketing team, Chef Phil Leach and a crew of our best and brightest culinary students gathered around the symbolic campfire to plan, develop and host a free gourmet s’more experience during the festival.

The winning entries were outstanding!

#ExperienceSMORE Winning entries:

  • Peanut butter banana crunch s’more, by student Deepak Gopakumar
    • Ingredients: graham crackers, marshmallows, milk chocolate bars, creamy peanut butter, sliced bananas, honey, and crushed honey-roasted peanuts
  • The All Canadian s’more, by alumni Sarah Hallett
    • Ingredients: Celebration Maple Leaf cookie, toasted marshmallow and crispy bacon
  • Banana split s'more, by employee Shelly DeSousa
    • Ingredients: two chocolate chip cookies, banana-flavoured marshmallow, strawberry jam, topped with whipped cream and a cherry

I know the judges had a hard time and I’m so inspired and thankful to everyone who entered and shared their delicious s’more flavour ideas.

The team even had me get in on the game. I had the chance to become a TikTok star in How to make the perfect S'MORE

Next time you and your crew are enjoying a bonfire and sharing memories why not test everyone with a little s’mores trivia and see who knows the most about this favorite campfire tradition!

National S’mores Day is August 10 each year. This year, celebrate by gathering your family for bonding time around a fire and roast up some classic s’mores. It doesn’t matter if you spark up your fire in a traditional pit, chiminea, fire bowl or a portable fire table, a small flame is all you need to create tasty treats and inspire family conversation. It’s truly one of the quintessential flavours of summer and has been enhancing campfires and bringing families together for decades.

This summer I hope you all get to #ExperienceS’MORE!

The world needs s'more love!. Contributed photo


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Daniel Clements

About the Author: Daniel Clements

In his bi-weekly Chef's Table column, Daniel will be looking at everything from local crops and trends in the business to seasonal delights and the local restaurant scene
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