The Egyptians were the first on record to use the marshmallow as a food stuff. They extracted the mucilage sap from the root and mixed it with nuts and honey. They are also known to have stripped the skin from the stem, exposing the soft spongy pith within the stem which was boiled with sugar and then dried to produce a soft chewy sweet.
These methods were used all the way up to the 19th century when French sweet makers devised a way of whipping up the sap and sweetening it, and so the modern marshmallow was born. This method was adopted by individual sweet producers who produced marshmallows on a small scale in house. However, despite it being very successful and hugely popular it was still very time consuming extracting the sap from the marshmallow.In the late 19th century the French realised the same effect could be produced by using a combination of egg whites, sugar and corn starch, without the laborious task or processing the plant.
In 1948 and American called Alex Doumak patented a way of producing marshmallows which gave them the cylindrical shape we know today. The machine forces the whipped mix through tubes, de-molding them once they’re set and cutting them into cylinders. The National Confectioners Association of America estimate that Americans spend more than $125 million on marshmallows every year, that’s the equivalent weight of 1286 grey whales.