Where do marshmallows come from? That all depends.
Being a father has certain privileges. Not many, but some.
First, Dads are bigger than everybody. Yes, size does matter. If I can pick you up, hold you upside down, and tickle your tummy with my nose, you haven’t got a prayer. The clicker is mine.
Second, Dads handle all kinds of really scary stuff. Like fires, live electricity, noisy engines and machines, wickedly sharp things, rogue spiders, snakes and rabid critters, fireworks, tall ladders, poisons and chemicals, and pitch black power outages.
Third, Dads know everything worth knowing. Mind, I did not say, ‘Dads know everything there is – that would not be true. Part of this particular gift is the ability to know what is, and what is not, worth knowing. Why waste brain power on stuff that’s going to just lay there, collecting mental dust and taking up space that could have been used for something important?
For instance, we know, those are the three main reasons kids are likely to come find their father: when they need someone bigger, someone less afraid, or someone who can answer one of those questions nobody can agree on.
‘Dad!’, my youngest called as she ran into the kitchen, just one quick step ahead of her sisters.
‘Where ….’ (she was catching her breath)…
‘….do marshmallows come from?’ the twins finished.
‘Well,’ I said, sipping my coffee, ‘that depends’.
‘What?’ they all said.
‘Yes,’ I said. ‘Natural, wild marshmallows used to grow in swampy areas, covered by mists, on marshmallow bushes protected by tufted marsh spiders. The spider webs made them nearly invisible. You could only collect the marshmallow fruit at night, when the spiders were sleeping, and there’s no mist. Otherwise, they were too sticky.’
My youngest was absorbing this, thinking about how easy it would be to find any out back. The twins were having none of it.
‘Daa-ad!’ they said, with that widening of the eyes, thrusting of the head, turning up one edge of a lip look, that roughly translates to, ‘do we have to go ask Mom?’
‘That was before Samuel Farfenfuffel invented the mallowthresher,’ I said. ‘After that, all the wild ones were plowed under, and marshmallow farmers had it pretty easy. No spiders, and the marshmallows grew really fat.’
This got the hands on the hips ‘what do you take us for, seriously’ look, and the youngest started measuring her sisters’ reaction and then mine with her eyes, not ready to let go, but no longer sure.
‘Course, today, they’re all made in factories, artificially.’ I said, ending it. ‘Marshmallow farmers all went out of business, and nobody can find seeds any more.’
I went to my bureau, and out of a box in a box, took the photo up there at the top of this page, and showed them all. A marshmallow farm. I knew some time or other, this day would come.
They all looked, passed it around, looked really close. ‘We don’t believe you’, the twins said. Cops or officers or lawyers, I thought. My youngest just had a look. Wondering.
Nothing wrong with a little wonder, I said to myself. That’s number four – Dads get to keep them wondering.
‘I wonder…’ That’s how somebody came up with the crazy idea for cooking marshmallows in the first place.
For those wondering where marshmallows actually came from in the first place, it’s thought the originals were made by Egyptians four thousand years ago. They took the roots of a native plant, the marsh mallow (seriously) and boiled it with honey. The mallow root made a gel, and a sweet confection fit for gods or royals. It was made in Europe as early as the 1600’s. The modern marshmallow came in 1850, and since then they’ve been made with gelatin instead of plant roots. But the name has stuck.