In our last post, we learned about the marsh mallow (Althaea officinalis) plant, from which the modern marshmallow confection gained its name. Today, we look at how the two are related.
According to the National Confectioners Association, as early as 2000 BC, the Egyptians were the first to take components from the plant to create a treat. They combined its sap with honey and nuts to make a candy. Later, in the 1800s, the French would modify this recipe, leaving out the nuts and honey and whipping the sap. Later, the sap would be replaced by gelatin. The name “marshmallow” would stick. Presumably, the honey was replaced with a refined sugar product at the same time it became a French whipped confection.
Interestingly, the University of Maryland Medical Center warns that people taking antidiabetes drugs should be wary of interactions between them and herbal marsh mallow, which may decrease blood sugar.