Celebrate National S'mores Day, Aug. 10th
jupiterimagesWhile the word "s'mores" is now synonymous with fire-toasted marshmallows and chocolate, the Girl Scouts -- the group which first popularized the campfire treat -- weren't always so orthodox about the popular snack's ingredient list.
"This recipe may be varied by using slices of apple (cut cross-wise) in place of the graham crackers; by using pineapple slices or peanut butter in place of chocolate," the authors of the 1947 edition of the "Girl Scout Handbook" counseled.
The fruit-filled s'more never really caught on, but that hasn't stopped generations of cooks from trying to improve upon the classic stack of crackers, toasted marshmallow and a wedge of milk chocolate: Boldly experimental s'mores lovers have concocted s'mores nachos, s'mores pies, s'mores sundaes, gourmet s'mores with 28 ingredients (including egg yolks and malt powder) and s'macos, a Kampgrounds of America favorite featuring chocolate chips and mini-marshmallows tucked into flour tortillas.
And in the spirit of the diet-minded Girl Scout leaders who suggested swapping chocolate for pineapple, weight-loss organizations have met their members' s'mores cravings with low-cal recipes that call for pressing a single mini-marshmallow between chocolate-flavored wafers.
But most s'mores fans say there's no need for bigger, smaller, fancier, simpler, healthier or sweeter versions of their favorite summertime dessert, which is annually saluted on August 10, a.k.a. National S'mores Day. This is providential timing for those celebrants who deplete their stash of crackers before using up all their marshmallows, as National Toasted Marshmallow Day falls three weeks later.
"People love the taste combination," Jody Cook, a Hershey Company spokeswoman, says of the original s'more.
Strangely, nobody has yet taken credit for inventing the s'more. Unlike many dishes in the American canon, the s'more isn't surrounded by mythical creation stories: The culinary record makes no mention of a harried troop leader who reached for a bag of marshmallows when she ran out of whipped cream or a scout competing for a cooking badge who accidentally put a chocolate bar in her marshmallow pie.
The s'more apparently evolved more organically from Victorian sandwich cookies, in which jam or cream was slathered between split halves of a tea biscuit. When marshmallows became widely available in the early 1900s -- thanks to the innovative "starch mogul" method of mass production -- cooks seized upon the flavor as a new filling. Marshmallows were a pantry fixture by 1910, when employees at Earl Mitchell's Chattanooga Bakery reportedly starting dipping graham crackers in marshmallow and coating them in chocolate, thereby originating the inside-out s'more better known as a Moonpie.
The first known recipe for "Some More," a folk version of the fantastically popular Southern snack, appeared in the 1927 book "Tramping and Trailing with the Girl Scouts." That recipe that was little changed by 1940, when William Gould Vinal included it in his "Nature Recreation: Group Guidance for the Out-of-Doors."
"Some Mores: Two graham crackers for outsiders. Square of chocolate to fit. Toasted marshmallow. Repeat order until satisfied."
Vinal's terse prose doesn't make clear whether he intended campers to make multiple sandwiches or create double-, triple- and quadruple-decker stacks, a prescription that surely would have appealed to young s'more cooks. S'mores have long had a special hold on voracious kids, who've lately embraced the so-called "super s'more," featuring a giant Hershey's bar sandwiched between two sheets of graham.
"Ever hear of 'Some Mores'?," Chicago Tribune writer Doris Schacht asked her readers in a 1959 column devoted to cooking for children. "The sticky finger dessert is delicious."
Clued in to what their kids were eating on their summer camp cookouts, adults quickly claimed s'mores as their own. They collected fussy recipes showcasing Mexican chocolates and handmade marshmallows. They tried adding peanut butter to the established s'more trinity, and demanded s'more-flavored energy, granola and candy bars. But even the Hershey Company, which briefly marketed a S'more bar, concedes the basic preparation is best.
"There are a lot of variations," admits Cook, who tracks advances in s'more cuisine at Hershey's smorestruly.com site. "But one of my favorite things to do when I'm going to a barbecue is make s'mores ahead of time and individually wrap them in foil. Throw them on the grill and you're done."
Done. Finished. Meaning there's really no need to keep writing new recipes. But since the urge to tinker is as American as the already-perfected s'more, home cooks and happy campers will likely keep trying.
Browse all of KitchenDaily's s'more recipes