How it’s Made Marshmallows: The Sweet Science.

Marshmallows are delectable treats that are popular worldwide. These fluffy, chewy sweets are usually enjoyed in desserts, as toppings, or on their own. Marshmallows have a long history that dates back to ancient Egypt, where honey was used to create a chewy treat. Today, marshmallows are usually made from corn syrup, gelatin, sugar, and flavorings. However, have you ever wondered how marshmallows are made? In this article, we’ll explore the sweet science behind marshmallow production.

The Ingredients of Marshmallows

The ingredients of marshmallows may vary depending upon the manufacturer or the recipe. However, the basic ingredients of marshmallows include corn syrup, sugar, gelatin, flavorings, and water. Here is a detailed explanation of each ingredient.

Corn Syrup

Corn syrup is an essential ingredient in marshmallows. It is a thick, viscous liquid that is derived from corn starch. Corn syrup helps to keep marshmallows moist and prevents crystallization of sugar. While there is speculation that corn syrup is harmful to health, there is no evidence to suggest that corn syrup in moderation is harmful to health.


Sugar is the primary sweetener in marshmallows. It helps to give marshmallows their distinct sweet taste. The sugar used in marshmallows is usually granulated sugar or confectioners’ sugar.


Gelatin is an animal by-product that is derived from collagen. Gelatin is what gives marshmallows their fluffy, chewy texture. It is also responsible for the elasticity and shape of marshmallows. Gelatin is a protein and is beneficial to health.


Flavorings are added to marshmallows to give them a distinct taste. Vanilla is the most popular flavoring used in marshmallows. However, other flavorings such as strawberry, raspberry, and caramel can also be used.


Water is used to dissolve the sugar and gelatin and to create a solution that will eventually become marshmallows. It is also used to cool down the marshmallow mixture.

The Manufacturing Process of Marshmallows

The manufacturing process of marshmallows may vary depending upon the manufacturer. However, here is a general overview of how marshmallows are made.

Step 1: Mixing the Ingredients

The first step in making marshmallows is to mix the ingredients together. Sugar, gelatin, corn syrup, and water are combined in a large mixing bowl.

Step 2: Heating the Mixture

The mixture is then heated to a specific temperature to dissolve the sugar and gelatin. The temperature must be precise to ensure that the marshmallows have the correct texture and shape.

Step 3: Beating the Mixture

Once the mixture has been heated, it is beaten at high speed until it thickens and becomes fluffy. The beating process incorporates air into the mixture, creating the marshmallow’s distinct texture and shape.

Step 4: Adding Flavorings

Once the mixture has thickened, flavorings are added to give the marshmallows their distinct taste.

Step 5: Molding the Marshmallows

The marshmallow mixture is then poured into molds and allowed to cool and set. Once the marshmallows have set, they are removed from the molds and cut into the desired shape and size.

Step 6: Packaging the Marshmallows

Finally, the marshmallows are packaged and ready to be sold. They are usually packaged in bags or boxes and can be found in grocery stores, convenience stores, or online.

The Science Behind Marshmallows

The science behind marshmallows is fascinating. The unique texture and shape of marshmallows are due to the properties of gelatin and sugar. The whipping of the marshmallow mixture creates air pockets, which gives marshmallows their light, fluffy texture.


Gelatin is a protein that forms a network of chains when dissolved in water. When gelatin is whipped and cooled, the protein chains form a series of interconnected bubbles that create the marshmallow’s distinct texture and shape.


Sugar works in conjunction with gelatin to create the marshmallow’s texture. When sugar is heated and dissolved in water, it forms a syrup that isn’t as viscous as straight water. In this state, the sugar syrup can trap air bubbles more effectively when whipped with the gelatin mixture.

The History of Marshmallows

Marshmallows have a long and fascinating history that dates back to ancient Egypt. Marshmallow root was used to create a sweet, chewy treat that was enjoyed by men, women, and children. However, marshmallows as we know them today were invented in the 19th century when gelatin was introduced as an ingredient.

Ancient Egypt

During the reign of Pharaoh Ramses II in ancient Egypt, marshmallow root sap was extracted and mixed with honey to create a sweet treat. This marshmallow root candy was reserved for royalty and the wealthy.

19th Century France

In the 19th century, confectioners in France created a recipe for marshmallows using egg whites, corn syrup, and sugar. However, this recipe proved to be time-consuming and labor-intensive.

19th Century America

In the 19th century, the recipe for marshmallows was simplified when gelatin was introduced as an ingredient. Now, marshmallows could be mass-produced and were more affordable. Marshmallows quickly became popular in America, where they were enjoyed in desserts and as a stand-alone treat.

Frequently Asked Questions About Marshmallows

  • How long do marshmallows last?

    Marshmallows have a long shelf life and can last for several months if stored in a cool, dry place. However, once marshmallows have been opened, they should be consumed within a few weeks to maintain their freshness.
  • Are marshmallows gluten-free?

    Most marshmallows are gluten-free. However, some marshmallow brands may contain gluten, so it’s essential to read the label before purchasing if you have a gluten allergy or intolerance.
  • Are marshmallows vegan?

    Marshmallows are not vegan-friendly as they contain gelatin, which is an animal by-product. However, there are vegan-friendly marshmallow brands available that use alternative ingredients such as agar, carrageenan, or pectin instead of gelatin.
  • Are marshmallows kosher?

    Most marshmallows are not kosher because they contain gelatin, which is derived from animals that aren’t kosher. However, there are kosher marshmallow brands available that use fish gelatin or other alternatives.
  • What is the history of marshmallows?

    Marshmallows have a fascinating history that dates back to ancient Egypt. Marshmallow root was used to create a sweet, chewy treat that was reserved for royalty and the wealthy. The recipe for marshmallows was later refined by confectioners in France and America and mass-produced using gelatin in the 19th century.


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