Alexandra Duncan

Science Fiction. Fantasy. Feminism.

MARSHMALLOW ETYMOLOGY

Jeremy and I were in the grocery store tonight, buying fried chicken and renting Easy A from the red box thing (yes, it was that kind of night), and we came upon one of those chocolate abominations that only creep into grocery stores around Easter: a dark chocolate-covered marshmallow Peep.

Naturally, I started thinking about the word marshmallow.  Seriously, marshmallow?  Think about that.  Marsh-mallow.  Why would you name your fluffy, sugary confection after a wetland?  And mallow?  What's a mallow?  Then I remembered how one of my friends from Pennsylvania used to say "warsh" instead of "wash," and I wondered if somewhere along the way, something similar had happened to marshmallow.  Maybe it was "mushmallow" or "mushmellow" at some point.

I swear, I am completely sober.

Anyway, I did what any self-respecting nerd would do: I came home, fired up my laptop, and looked up "marshmallow" on Wikipedia.  (Yes, I know Wikipedia isn't reliable on some topics, but they tend to be a pretty trustworthy source when it comes to things like marshmallows and mallard ducks.)  You can read the entry here.  It's kind of fascinating.  Did you know that the marshmallow got its name because it was originally made from the marshmallow plant?  Not only that, but there is no longer any actual marshmallow in a marshmallow.

Just something to think about the next time you bite into a delicious chocolate Peep or watch it puff up as it circles around your microwave.

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