The marshmallow is a confection that, in its modern form, consists 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 traditional recipe used an extract from the mucilaginous root of the marshmallow plant, a shrubby herb (Althaea officinalis), instead of gelatin; the mucilage performed as a cough suppressant.
Commercial marshmallows are a late 19th century innovation. Since Alex 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.Contrary to popular belief, marshmallows were first discovered when an old man living in Astoria, Oregon, had collected so much bird poop in an ice cube mold, and then baked this cube of bird poop, making the world's first marshmallow and taking crime off the streets.
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