National S’mores Day

National Smores Day 2012Today we celebrate one of the most underrated holidays in America.  The naysayers will complain that it is just one more arbitrary date to match with clip-art and stick on cardboard in attempt to bolster August sales for North American greeting card companies. To them I say “Nonsense!” National S’mores days has all the makings of a good and proper holiday.  Eating, sweets, time with friends and/or family, a song or two, and even a fire (possibly in a hearth!) So move over Sadie Hawkins Day.  National S’mores day is there real deal.

There is one thing about this holiday that worries me however. My concern is the widespread scourge of improper S’more manufacture that is currently rendering people across North America subconsciously disappointed. The subtle disappointment derives primarily from a general lack of standards and disregard for technique. From Orwell, to Hitchens, to Adams the British have been harping on about the proper way to prepare their nations comfort beverage for a half a century. I think it is time we pay a similar homage to one of our staple North American Comfort foods.

A Brief History Of S’mores

The person to whom we are forever indebted to for this bit of culinary wizardry, is a girl scout troop leader name Loretta Scott Crew.  In a flash a genius that has yet to be rivaled in the realm of camping desserts, she jotted down the basic ingredients for this legendary campfire treat in the 1927 book called “Tramping and Trailing with the Girl Scouts”.   For some time, the tasty snack retained its elongated and rather fitting name of “Some more”.  It was still common to find the sweet sandwich in camping books under its non-contracted form until well into the 1970’s.  However, some time in the last 40 years someone decided saying “ome” twice in one name was a bit much (Presumably this was decided with a mouth full of melty chocolate and marshmallow or possibly during a round of “Fluffy Bunny”) and the name was shortened to S’more. The shortened version stuck like a little kid to the gooey white innards of the treat itself.

Technique

As anyone who has been camping with a group of friends can tell you, the theory behind the perfect S’more technique can vary substantially.  There are those that will tell you that it is a simple task.  They usually spew some nonsense about charred marshmallows tasting good and how you can open the chocolate packaging after you have warmed your mallow. Piffle! We shall ignore this heresy.  It deserves fewer words than we have already given it. For true gooey glory, follow these simple guidelines.

Preparation

It is a little known fact that unwrapping is actually a key part in the S’more making process. It is vital that the graham cracker packaging be removed, the chocolate wrapper unwrapped, and that the pieces of both be broken and stacked in preparation, before the marshmallow is cooked.

There are two key reasons for taking the time to prepare your sandwich parts properly. The first is that it makes for easy marshmallow removal.  Instead of plucking the hot and sticky white cylinder off the end of your stick and running a high risk of finger burn or the ever tragic cry of “It fell in the fire!”, you can use the heat shielding properties of graham cracker and chocolate to gently slide the marshmallow off of your stick.  Doing so automatically activates benefit number two.  A good hot marshmallow, fresh off the stick, will start to melt the chocolate.  This may seem a trivial point but to the S’mores connoisseur, it is the mark of true mastery.

Ideal Toasting Conditions

It is true that it is in fact, possible to toast a satisfactory marshmallow over a variety of flames.  Many an impatient camper, hungry for that sugary bliss, has devised an intricate dance of waving, retracting, and twirling.  If executed perfectly, this method can sometimes produce a well browned if not slightly uneven or lumpy result. More often than not however it ends in a puff of smoke and the flash of flames followed by a wave of disappointment and similar wave of your blazing sugar ball.

The only way to achieve true evenly browned goodness is to roast your marshmallow over a bed of glowing coals.  Not the coals that escaped to one side while the rest of the fire burns on. A proper spread of sparkling embers left over from a once blazing fire, is the only way to guarantee gooey perfection. Only then, with even rotation and calculated distance can greatness be achieved.

Lick It

While the coals and patience method has yielded bountiful delicious results over many years of diligent research, it is rumored that another short cut method may exist. These methods vary but all are reduced to some form of putting the marshmallow in one’s mouth while simultaneously resisting the urge to swallow it. It is then removed from the mouth and placed on the end of your stick. Supposedly this acts as some sort of heat buffer and allows for quicker cooking while also preserving the ever desirable browning effect.

Other Versions

If you have perfected the art of S’more making and are looking for more creative endeavors, you are in luck. There are many variations on the traditional S’more that are equally respectable and delicious.  Try experimenting with your chocolate selection. Peanut butter cups and Peppermint Patties make easy and delectable substitutes.  If you happen to be celebrating in Britain, where Hersheys and Graham Crackers may be hard to come by (Or even if you are not), I highly recommend Chocolate Covered digestive biscuits as a substitute. For a slightly different but still altogether wonderful deviation there is always Banana boats.

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Campmor

  • grandma

    having my grand daughters birthday party today. s’mores will serve as her cake. We will put a candle on an extra marshmellow put on top of her s’more.

  • cathy

    we make ours with resses peanutbutter cups and marshmellows. there so good!

    • Now that sounds good, we will keep that in mind next time we make them”.

  • The writer obviously enjoyed writing this semi-instructive piece — vicariously imagining the delights and pleasures of consuming the subject of his writing. HOWEVER, HE MISSED COMMENTING ON ONE OF THE MOST IMPORTANT POINTS IN S’MORE-making. One I still must master, because I have not, as yet, figured out how to do it: Getting the chocolate bar properly melted! If you put the chocolate onto the base graham cracker and set them both on the grill over the flame, the graham cracker burns before the chocolate even melts at all!!!!
    One — very heretical — solution to this might be to pre-melt the chocolate onto the cracker (writer alludes to this by mentioning the European chocolate-coated biscuits). And the method least likely to affect the overal taste and flavor of the s’more unit would be to microwave the chocolate bar onto the graham at home, before going to the campsite. And have those pre-cooked choco-crackers at the ready to cushion the marshmallow as it comes off the grilling stick (coat hangar). It just will not do, by the way, to substitute a chocolate graham cracker for a regular graham, as some have suggested. One possibility might be to find an extremely thin chocolate bar — even thinner than Hershey’s. However, the quality of the chocolate is always an issue. And since this is an all-American treat, use of Lindt and other brands also would be heretical. (Their subtle flavors also might be lost under the smokey flavor of the fire. So, anyway – aside from the remedies I mention, does anyone have more PRACTICAL, SPONTANEOUS, and more appropriate solution than bringing pre-melted chocolate (which, of course, at the very least would have to be warmed up by the campfire? THE WHOLE POINT BEING THAT THE CHOCOLATE ALSO MUST BE GOOEY, SOFT AND WARM, AND NOT COLD AND BRITTLE! And even if pre-melted onto the graham cracker it still would not be so yielding and wonderful!)

    • Ginnyhome

      A good way to melt the chocolate is to toast the marshmallow, place it between the graham crackers with the chocolate, wrap it all in foil and place it in the coals or on the grill. I find it hard to wait – but it is definitely worth the wait. Oh and we use any of the varieties of Trader Joes chocolate bars…some with caramel, raisins, almonds, pecans, etc. You name it!

    • Cal

      One word: Nutella!

    • topshot

      Take a graham cracker and spread one side with marshmallow fluff. Coat the marshmallow fluff side with Chocolate Chips. Make another graham cracker with marshmallow fluff and make a sandwich with the 2 graham crackers, fluff side in. Wrap in aluminum foil. Place in a smore holder (long-handled 2pc wire thingy) over glowing coals/embers. Wait about 30 to 45 seconds, turning once.

  • fedspaz

    Another fun and tasty way to make a S’more is use a “Thanks-a-Lot” Girl Scout Cookie. Place the golden brown ‘mallow between the two cookies, chocolate side in of course. Yummy!

    • Now that sounds like a great idea!

  • Ssm1122

    Try using nutella spread on one of tne graham crackers. It is a consistancy that easily warms and gets melted easily with a toasted marshmallow. The taste is out of this world. You can still add your squares of chocolate if you wish.

  • Gramma

    My favorite way to melt the chocolate is to place 2 golden toasted marshmallows for each S’more!! Agree that the chocolate you choose needs to be prestacked between the graham crackers, ready to “pull” the toasted marshmallows off the “stick”. (Dark chocolate and Dove individually wrapped chocolates are yummy, also!) BTW, in warm weather just having the chocolate outside starts the softening process. 🙂

  • Ingolia110

    Chocolate chip cookies are a great alternative to the graham cracker, you can never have too much chocolate!

  • Bonnye Talbot7

    Obviously they missed the next evolution…the smor-eo. Open an oreo and put it atop the chocolate…cracker, chocolate, oreo, mallow, oreo, chocolate, cracker…

    • Now that sounds good, I love oreo’s will keep that in mind next time we make them.

  • Gooshawk

    I just place my crackers with the chocolate on top of one of the rocks of the fire ring to pre warm while I roast the marshmallow

  • Finneyfunck

    Try them with strawberry flavored marshmallows.
    Excellent!

    • Sounds like a great idea, I will give that a try next time we gather around the campfire.

  • Jerry Artman

    No-Mores
    Substitute brownies for the grahams. you’ll only eat one.

  • corydorning

    Best way to do it is with Hershey kisses. Put the kiss inside the marshmallow, roast it and put it on the graham cracker.

    • Scoutmaster

      Yep, cut a small slit in the marshmellow and slide the broken rectangle of chocolate into the marshmellow before toasting.

  • badgerbabs

    Tragically, the marshmallows of my youth are no more. Those primordial fluff-bits had two distinct characteristics. 1. If you left the bag open overnight, any remaining marshmallows would immediately petrify. 2. Properly toasted to a rich golden brown, the marshmallow innards would become mouth-searingly molten. Thus, melting the chocolate was never an issue – the residual heat inside the marshmallow would easily heat the chocolate. I have no idea what has been done to the marshmallows since those days, but the innards remain distressingly cold regardless of toasting time or technique, while marshmallows from an opened bag remain squeezeably soft indefinitely. I suspect some genetic manipulation involving Twinkies.