Did you know the Girl Scouts “invented” the s’more? That’s a good claim to fame I think. I thought they were just about the cookies. Which leads me to the question- why didn’t they use one of the cookies instead of a graham cracker? I mean… next level s’more a’la Girl Scouts, it’s obvious. That’s only one… ONE! way to upgrade your s’more experience. And as a big camping fan and sweet-tooth (thanks Dad), I have a “smor’gasbord” to share with you. Yeah… I went there. Chew on that for a sec (you’re welcome).
A little (s'more) history first-
The first known recipe for a s’more is about 100 years old now. Older than that though, a pre-gelatin version of the marshmallow was plant-based using the juice of the Althaea officinalis plant (aka THE marshmallow plant, in the mallow family- Malvaceae). This was for medicinal and particularly anti-inflammatory purposes. This plant is highly edible and every part is medicinal as well with the genus name "Althaea" meaning healer in ancient Greek. The juice was whipped into a foam with eggs and sugar for a sweet lozenge-like medicine Mary Poppins would have approved of. Around the end of the 1800’s animal-based gelatin came in and the lozenge become more a treat than medicine.
marshmallow was plant-based
Word is the graham cracker was created for reduce sex drive. So think about that next time you’re toasting a marshmallow around a camp fire. Maybe there’s some tests we can inspire? For SCIENCE! It was a Presbyterian minister named Sylvester Graham who wanted to knock down the population’s fiery desires. His original bland & dry (never EVER moist) cracker was the cure. Was it??? And yet how many naughty licks have happened from the melty sticky process of making s’mores, despite the graham? I know I have marshmallow and chocolate all over my face & hands after eating only one, how about you? In the backcountry I always think, “This is how I get attacked by a bear”.
Marshmallow roasting was trendy starting around 1890’s in the Northeastern US and the roast events were called “excellent medium for flirtation”, popular among the young crowd. Probably leading to the “need” for the graham, right? It’s starting to come together!
Now I’m wonder why I don’t just bring these for backpacking??? (note to self…)
And then came the Girl Scouts. They named the concoction “Some Mores” because you eat one and then want more. Of course. And then we eventually shortened that ‘Merican style to S’mores, though the Scouts stuck with “Some More” until 1971. Although now that I’m all ‘old’ and such, I kind of just want one, or know I really should keep the number low. Though it could have been a recipe developed casually among many groups, the official claim is via the Girl Scouts in their 1927 “Tramping and Trailing with the Girl Scouts”, which included the first known written recipe.
The original recipe ratios were 16 graham crackers + 8 chocolate bars split in 2 (=16 smaller bars) and 16 marshmallows. Sounds like they had 16 scouts to feed per troop. The recipe was credited to the troop leader Loretta Scott Crew and she instructs to toast the marshmallows to a “crispy, gooey state”, which really is a key step.
A non-gooey s’more is really a s’less. Sad sad times.
To bring your S'more into the 21st century, try some of these upgrades, or any combination.
Upgrade method 1: The sides
Standard- Graham crackers
Pros- nice taste & texture
Cons- very fragile and don’t travel well to back-country, come in large package.
Frozen waffles - might as well toast those too, right?
Cookies (any other sturdy kinds)
Fancy wafer cookies like Italian Pizzelle (delicate but a lighter crisp texture which is nice- see pictures below) or Dutch Stroopwafels (chewy caramel cookies) or other thick wafers
Powercrunch protein bars (for beefing up while having dessert)- a favorite of mine on the trail because they are so light you can eat them as you walk while not feeling like the hard chewing is hindering your breathing, yes I think about these things.
Animal crackers (super fun for kids of all ages and can pair with peeps- see gooey filling section below)
Rice crispy treats (or my fave home-made protein bar version with nut butter & honey)- talk about eye-rolling decadence!
Upgrade method 2: The filling
Standard- Chocolate bar (usually Hershey’s)
Pros- nice breakable size options, good melting point & typical sweetness
Cons- very “typical”, not up to some people’s high standards of chocolate (or companies).
Peanut butter cups
Dark chocolate bars - less sugary for the "adults"
Flavored chocolate bar – with fruits or mint (like Andes mints) or caramels or nuts.
Chocolate with fillings (caramel, nut butters, etc).
White chocolate (won’t taste the same but very interesting creaminess & visually)
Cookies with chocolate topping on one side- also sub for the graham cracker
Chocolate covered pretzels (or anything really)
Heath bars (and any other candy bar)
Jams or fruit curds (like a lemon meringue s’more or “lem’ore” if you will)
Lime curd S'more
Upgrade method 3: The goo to glue it together
Standard- Marshmallow (regular or jumbo)
Pros- crispy and toasted sugar taste on the outside, gooey melty center to help soften your chocolate on the inside (yes & YES)
Cons- too sweet for some, sticky messy, danger of flaming projectiles, not vegan
Chocolate-filled marshmallows (Stuffed Puffs) which also replace the chocolate layer. [thanks
Arielle for telling me about these!]
Or make your own by poking a hole into a marshmallow and tucking a chunk of chocolate inside. Note- it does make skewering with a stick hard, use the 2-prong fork, or a stick with a Y fork at end for toasting.
Peeps (who doesn’t like messing with these little weird marshmallow “snacks”
Scoop of marshmallow fluff (safer but won’t be hot or have the toasted sugar taste from roasting)
Vegan or home-made marshmallows, try new flavors too.
Zefir – a sort of fruity meringue/marshmallow of eastern European origin for the really upscale S’more.
Frosting- if you really want to overload on sugar
Cream cheese (whipped is probably best) for lower sugar and tart alternative
Gummy rings (haven’t tried roasting these yet so let me know if you try)
Cheese? I can’t stand by this myself but I have heard about it. Maybe a fun mix of savory and sweet? Try at your own risk. I mean, what if it’s addictive-amazing!? (Hmm, now I need to go buy some brie…)
To be healthier- Roasted fruit slices (apples, strawberries, pineapple, peach, plums, apricots).
Add-ins on top of the standards:
Fruits, especially roasted in fire (see above plus- banana slices and dried fruits like mangos, apple rings, etc).
Meat (yeah I know, but bear with me)- bacon or jerky for that salty savory s’more)
Chips (same reason as meat plus another crunchy layer)
Spices like cinnamon or ginger
Alternatives to the S’more:
Dip fruit in marshmallow fluff and roast over fire. Yum! And same messy tasty fun but healthier. Totally a breakfast version.
Wanna get overly fancy? Probably at the home firepit, not the camp ground. Try a graham-less version with two small pavlovas and warmed chocolate for a deconstructed version. Or any version of cookies, cupcakes, baked Alaskas, etc, that use the three key ingredients of graham + marshmallow + chocolate.
Go big! Go deconstructed, go wild, and go get messy! But then clean up so you don’t get ants. Or attract bears (looking at myself here).
I know s’mores are an iconic American summer treat associated with outdoors fun and gatherings around any backyard or park fire pit, but I associate them more with fall & winter when I am more likely to have a fire while camping (where they’re allowed of course, at lower elevations mainly). Out here in the PNW, we need to be aware of the risk of wildfires from recreational camp fires. Campers are responsible for a large portion of yearly and needless to say damaging wildfires. Plus its darker earlier in the evening, leaving more time for camp site hanging and what’s more engaging than building and tending a fire to keep warm and add some light? But not matter what time of year, they are a luxurious treat when camping deep in the wilderness, adding back some calories after I burned a lot to carry my little piece of home out there for the evening. They probably taste two times better too, like all camp-food.
How do you like your s’mores? Marshmallow heavy, more chocolate, extra melty? Marshmallow lightly toasted or black & white style? Do you balance everything on your knee or use a rock/log near the fire, or go all fancy & use a table? Not sure how these were toasted, but I would like to go to there, please.
Ok, I feel like I need a salad just from writing this, hope you enjoy without getting a sugar overload by proxy.