Monday, July 5, 2021

S'mores History and Recipes Potluck by Maya Corrigan

Happy Fourth of July Holiday! Cookouts are a traditional way to celebrate this holiday. For Potluck Monday, I'm delving into the origin of s'mores, a dessert that isn't the product of a chef's kitchen, but of cookouts where children made their own desserts over campfires. 

A s'more is a sandwich of a toasted marshmallow and a piece of chocolate bar between two graham crackers. The first printed recipe for s’mores is in the 1927 Girl Scout handbook, "Tramping and Trailing with the Girl Scouts." The recipe continued to be in Girl Scout publications under the name "Some More" for the next five decades. The ingredients of s’mores are all products of the mid to late 19th century. 

Graham Crackers

A Presbyterian minister and dietary reformer of the early 19th century, Sylvester Graham, promoted temperance and vegetarianism. He believed in using whole grains as a remedy for the poor health. His followers, known as Grahamites, developed and marketed graham flour, bread, and crackers. Opposed to adding spices or stimulants to food, the minister would be appalled at the use of graham crackers for s’mores.   

Solid Chocolate

For nearly all of its long history, chocolate was prepared as a drink. Mayan tombs have residue of chocolate on them. After chocolate was imported into Europe from the New World in the 16th century, it was used to make hot cocoa, served along with tea and coffee. In 1847 a solid form of chocolate candy was introduced by an English manufacturer, Fry and Sons. A Swiss company created solid milk chocolate in 1876. Not long after that, arsenic-laced bonbons turned up as a murder weapon in real life and in mysteries.


The third component of s’mores has a long history. In ancient Egypt the sap of the marsh mallow (a relative of the hollyhock) was used for medicinal purposes. Early in the 19th century French confectioners created spongy treats by whipping dried marshmallow roots with sugar, water, and egg whites, and sold them in the form of lozenges. By the end of the century, a new process and the addition of gelatin resulted in a more stable form of marshmallow that would get gooey when heated but not fall apart.  

S’mores aren't just for campfires anymore. Upscale restaurants serve desserts named for s'mores with the same three ingredients as the campfire treat. The photo shows a beautiful s'mores cake a friend made.

On this blog we’ve shared several recipes based on the campfire s’mores, but made in the kitchen:

Cleo Coyle's Coffee S'mores  

Krista Davis's S'mores Pie

Holiday S'mores Bars by guest Shawn Reilly Simmons

Any giveaways associated with those posts are long over, but you can still enter a giveaway for S’more Murders, my 5th Five-Ingredient Mystery, and books by Maddie Day and Lucy Burdette. To enter, add a comment by noon on July 6  to yesterday’s post about picnic food.


Maya Corrigan writes the Five-Ingredient Mysteries featuring café manger Val and her live-wire grandfather solving murders in a Chesapeake Bay town. Maya lives in a Virginia suburb of Washington, D.C. Before writing crime fiction, she taught American literature, writing, and detective fiction at Northern Virginia Community College and Georgetown University. When not reading and writing, she enjoys theater, travel, trivia, cooking, and crosswords.

Visit her website to sign up for her newsletter. One subscriber wins a book each time a newsletter goes out. Check out the easy recipes, mystery history and trivia, and a free culinary mystery story on the website.

Book covers of the 7 Five-Ingredient Mysteries by Maya Corrigan

S'more Murders

When Val caters a Titanic memorial dinner on a yacht in the Chesapeake Bay, long submerged grievances lead to murder.

A Titanic-obsessed yacht owner hires Val to re-create the final meal served on that doomed ship. The yachtsman's wife has happy memories of campfires with s'mores and insists that the treat be added to the dinner. On the anniversary of the ship's sinking, the yachtsman welcomes his guests aboard and assigns them roles in a murder mystery game, "Death on the Titanic." Val soon reaches the chilling conclusion that the host is fishing for the culprit in a real crime. When someone goes overboard, Val has to reel in a killer before s’more murders go down.



Have a happy holiday with s'more of everything you love!


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  2. Fascinating history of s'mores! I've enjoyed making and eating them since my girl scouting days over 70 years ago but never knew the history. Just before Covid I went with my son's family to a ski resort where they had an outdoor propane firepit where guests could make s'mores in the evening. It brought back memories.

  3. I always equate s'mores with Girl Scout camp! That is the first place I became acquainted with them.

  4. I've tried variations on s'mores, but a campfire really makes a big difference.
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