It seems that there is no limit to things that are supersized in our modern world. Movie popcorn comes in tubs large enough to bathe a small child. On the roads, there are cars that resemble tanks with gas mileage so low the driver’s gas bill is also supersized. There are televisions so large they can be seen from space. Even Oregano’s beloved “big cookie” is a supersized version of the average chocolate chip cookie. Now there are marshmallows the size of a child’s fist.
The weather has finally been perfect to use our fire pit. To celebrate our first fire of the season, Oregano stopped on this way home from work to pick up the fixin’s for s’mores: graham crackers, chocolate and marshmallows.
I was stunned by the size of the marshmallows he purchased. These were no ordinary marshmallows. They were marshmallows on steroids touted as “Giant Roasters.” The bag is adorned with a deranged-looking marshmallow man donning a shirt with a flaming marshmallow while holding a stick with a marshmallow on the end. To stay on topic, let’s ignore the disturbing fact that this cannibalistic marshmallow man is roasting the head of one of his own species.
A brand name like “Campfire” leads one to believe that these marshmallows were created for the sole purpose of being roasted over a campfire. Many would be destined to become the glue that holds a s’more together. In theory, these marshmallows of unusual size are an enticing concept, but as we discovered later that evening over our roaring fire, they didn’t live up to the hype. The mammoth marshmallows required a longer time in the fire to even begin to melt. This was a sacrifice we were willing to make given the amount of gooey goodness we would soon be enjoying. However, when we began to assemble our s’mores, we discovered that these marshmallows lack meltability. Only a third of it slid gently off the skewer, leaving behind a sticky glob of denuded marshmallow. Even though there was only a thin layer of marshmallow, it did not stay nestled neatly between the graham crackers. When compressed, the hot, white goo oozed out every side and slid down our wrists.
We assumed our inexperience with marshmallows of this girth meant that we had not left them over the fire long enough. Still stuck on the skewers, we placed the innards of the marshmallows back into the fire and made our second attempt only to have the same thing happen. In all, we had to return a single marshmallow to the fire three times to finally melt the entire thing. I was stuffed and sticky from the three s’mores I had just eaten to finish off my marshmallow, but Oregano was determined to master the melting process. Unfortunately, his second attempt didn’t yield better results. He left the marshmallow over the fire longer, but eventually the outer most layer burst into flames. We watched as the charred exterior liquefied, slid off and dropped into the fire exposing the unmelted underbelly of the marshmallow. It was a vicious cycle.
As we sat there by the embers of the fire, we began debating the merits of the various sizes of marshmallows. “Instead of a sadistically smiling marshmallow man, there should be a warning on the bag: not recommended for making s’mores,” I said while licking the sticky remnants of the marshmallow off my wrists and hands.
“Even if they supersized the graham crackers so that the marshmallow didn’t ooze over the edges, we’d still be left with the melting problem. They’re just too big,” Oregano said.
“Mini marshmallows are too small,” I added. “Getting them onto a skewer would be like stringing beads. Not to mention that they would quickly burst into flames then fall into the fire.”
There is a reason that the classic-sized marshmallows have endured since 1948 when they were first extruded into the spongy cylinders we know and love. They melt evenly and when compressed, stay contained within the boundaries of the graham cracker border. Do not be lured by packages of jumbo marshmallows proclaiming to be superior. In our supersized society, tradition is usually pushed aside and bigger is perceived as better. Size does matter. At the risk of sounding like Goldilocks, sometimes smaller is just right.
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