Food - Drink
The Plant Marshmallows Were Originally Made From
Marshmallows are named after the marshmallow plant, a bloom with a tall stem and white and pink flowers, but today's marshmallows are made with corn syrup, a gelling agent, sugar, and water. With no plants in modern marshmallows, you may wonder what role this flowering plant used to play in the confection.
The marshmallow plant, or Althaea officinalis, is native to North Africa, western Europe, and parts of Asia, though it was used as medicine and food in Ancient Greece, Egypt, and Rome. The “mallow” part of the plant's name makes it easy to confuse with common and tree mallows, but “marsh” specifies its territory of marshy, moist soil.
In the 19th century, the French began whipping marshmallow sap into a fluffy and sweet treat, the progenitor of today's readily-available marshmallows. Gelatin eventually replaced mallow root in recipes, in order to make the confections easier to produce, and now virtually no marshmallows are still made using the marshmallow plant.