AskDefine | Define marshmallow

Dictionary Definition

marshmallow n : spongy confection made of gelatin and sugar and corn syrup and dusted with powdered sugar

User Contributed Dictionary



Old English merscmealwe, corresponding to marsh + mallow. The sense of confection is from 1884.



  1. A species of mallow, Althaea officinalis, that grows in marshy terrain.
  2. A type of confectionery consisting of sugar or corn syrup, beaten egg whites, gelatin that has been pre-softened in water, gum arabic and flavorings, whipped to a spongy consistency.
    • The Disagreeable Girl is a female of the genus homo persuasion, built around a digestive apparatus that possesses marked marshmallow proclivities. — Love, Life and Work
    • It was an apple marshmallow sundae, I recollect. I dug my spoon into it with an assumption of gaiety which I was far from feeling. — PH Wodehouse, A Wodehouse Miscellany



Extensive Definition

The Marshmallow is a confection that, in its modern form, typically consists of sugar or corn syrup, water, gelatin that has been pre-softened in hot water, dextrose, and flavorings, whipped to a spongy consistency. The traditional recipe used an extract from the mucilaginous root of the marshmallow plant, a shrubby herb (Althaea officinalis), instead of gelatin; the mucilage was used to soothe sore throats.
Commercial marshmallows are a late-nineteenth-century innovation. Since Doumak's patented extrusion process of 1948, marshmallows are extruded as soft cylinders, cut in sections and rolled in a mix of finely powdered cornstarch and confectioner's sugar (icing sugar). Not all brands coat their marshmallows in confectioner's sugar. Most of the current brands of commercially available marshmallows, in the United States and Canada, are made and copacked by Kraft Foods and Doumak, Inc, under such names as Jet-Puffed, Campfire, Kidd and numerous "private label" store brands.
Marshmallows are used in S'mores, Mallomars, Peeps and other candy, Rice Krispie treats, ice cream flavors such as Rocky Road, on top of hot chocolate and candied yams, and in several other foodstuffs. Americans eat about 90 million pounds of marshmallows a year.
Marshmallow fluff and other less firm marshmallow products generally contain little or no gelatin, which mainly serves to allow the familiar marshmallow confection to retain its shape. They generally use egg whites instead. Non-gelatin versions of this product may be consumed by ovo vegetarians.

See also

marshmallow in German: Marshmallow
marshmallow in Spanish: Malvavisco
marshmallow in French: Guimauve (confiserie)
marshmallow in Indonesian: Marshmallow
marshmallow in Italian: Marshmallow
marshmallow in Hebrew: מרשמלו
marshmallow in Latin: Pasta hibisci
marshmallow in Dutch: Marshmallow
marshmallow in Japanese: マシュマロ
marshmallow in Norwegian: Marshmallow
marshmallow in Portuguese: Marshmallow (doce)
marshmallow in Finnish: Vaahtokarkki
marshmallow in Swedish: Marshmallows
marshmallow in Chinese: 棉花糖 (顆粒狀)
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