It’s the original snack of passage for any hungry camper who loves sitting in a rickety lawn chair next to a smoky campfire. Nearly every man, woman or child (and plenty of dogs, too – minus the chocolate, of course) have braved a herd of two-winged vampires (a.k.a. mosquitoes) to taste the greatness of this special treat. I know you’ve been there when that squishy toasted marshmallow Jet Puffs up its chest to show off its new, perfectly golden tan atop a few squares of Hershey’s milk chocolate. Then, just for good measure, it sandwiches itself snugly between a pair of honey graham crackers before it passionately passes through your lips and teases every taste bud on your tongue. The original S’more. Campfire perfection. Love at first bite. But can a little creativity take this classic taste to an even more delicious level? I sure seem to think so!
I mean, what the heck. This treat has only been around for 100 years or so. PLENTY of room for improvement, don’t ya think? And best of all, I don’t even know who I’ll piss off in the research process! You see, it’s been documented that S’mores were invented … well, more like expertly created … in the early 1900s. Unfortunately, no-one knows who the mastermind was behind this legendary sweet campfire treat. The recipe was passed along around dancing campfire flames for a couple of dozen years before it finally made its way into the official Girl Scouts handbook in 1927.
History Doesn’t Always Have to Repeat Itself
I’ve always wondered, did the inventor of S’mores hit on something pretty tasty on their first try and just quit while they were ahead? Being a creative type, I had to try my hand at mixing the S’more menu up a bit. So, I raided the refrigerator, headed over to the back yard of some guinea pigs – um, I mean, good friends – and busted out the marshmallow roasting sticks. Social distancing mask in place, Marlin fired up the logs and the four M-migos (that would be 4 good friends whose names all happen to start with the letter M) settled into our camp chairs.
Once the coals were glowing red, I broke out the ingredients. Roll call consisted of: Honey Maid Graham Crackers, Kraft Marshmallows, Hershey’s Chocolate Bars, Duncan Hines Milk Chocolate Frosting, Pillsbury Coconut Pecan Frosting, Heath Butter Brickle Pieces, Reese’s Peanut Butter Chips, and Cadbury Caramello Candy Bars. Since I’m still not crazy about spending time in a grocery store, this lineup would have to do for tonight.
S’more #1 – Original Recipe
The ingredient stash eventually produced five separate S’more varieties for the group to sample. We had to start off with the original recipe as a baseline. Two marshmallows were roasted to a golden-brown perfection and quickly sandwiched between two graham cracker halves and a hunk of Hershey’s chocolate. (Yes, that’s the way it goes in my S’mores. ALWAYS use not one, but TWO marshmallows. Don’t cheat yourself out of the satisfaction that an extra shot of sticky goodness can bring!) After completion, the S’more quickly suffered its final chomp of fate. That traditional taste still never disappoints.
S’more #2 – Chocolate Caramel Surprise
Next it was on to the easiest of my contrived concoctions. We simply replaced the Hershey’s chocolate bar slab with some ooey-gooey squares of Caramello candy bar. (In case you missed it in an earlier blog post, here’s an explanation of why caramel NEEDED to be involved.) Cadbury’s milk chocolate teamed with its creamy caramel filling created a richly satisfying result, earning frighteningly high marks that were comparable to the original.
S’more #3 – German Chocolate
Here’s where things started to stray a little out of the ordinary. One half of graham was slathered with Coconut Pecan frosting. A 3-square chunk of Hershey’s chocolate bar was placed directly on top of the frosting and the mouthwatering layers waited anxiously for the completion of the marshmallow roasting. Once the expertly cooked marshmallows were wedged in place, it was time for the taste test. That first bite was an eye-opening doozy! If you are a fan of German Chocolate Cake or the flavor of coconut, I’m positive you will be a huge fan of this recipe!
S’more #4 – A Bit O’ Heath
Are you a connoisseur of crunchy, toffee-flavored treats? Since the Heath Blizzard is my DQ flavor of choice, I felt compelled to give a Heath S’more a try. I didn’t happen to have a Heath candy bar on hand, but the baking bits were stashed in a corner of the fridge. I spread chocolate frosting on one side of the Graham cracker and sprinkled the toffee bits on top of the frosting to hold them in place. When the toasted marshmallows were added the results were crunchy, but less than stellar. Too much work for a satisfactory taste in my opinion. Next time I would hit the grocery store to get the actual Heath candy bar to try, instead.
S’more #5 – PB & M
Our stomachs may have been getting a bit crowded by this time, but we were willing to give this innovative S’more creation thing one more try. How about some peanut butter and marshmallow … with a little bit of chocolate thrown in? Since the chocolate frosting was already open, I spread a thin layer across a half of graham cracker. This time I added Reese’s peanut butter morsels across the top of the frosting. A couple of toasted marshmallows and a graham cracker lid finalized the recipe. Tasty? Definitely. My favorite of the night? Nope. As a matter of fact, it would probably just be easier to use a full-size Reese’s peanut butter cup candy bar instead of the frosting/morsel combo. Maybe next time.
So Many Possibilities … So Little Stomach Space!!
As we sampled away, the 4 M-migos contemplated a variety of other possibilities. Lemon pie filling for lemon meringue S’mores. Turtles, Nut Goodie, Butterfinger, Milky Way or Three Musketeers as the candy bar choice. Chocolate graham crackers, Nilla® Wafers, Oreo Cookies, Fudge Stripes, and more were also considered as crust substitutes. If you are looking for even more inspiration, check out the fun little campfire handbook titled, “So Much S’MORE to Do”, by Becky Rasmussen. She covers 55 alternatives to the original S’more recipe.
Through all the substitute ingredient conversation, one opinion was unanimous … NOTHING can replace the original marshmallow filling. It just wouldn’t be a S’more without regular Jet-Puffed marshmallows!
As the embers died and our bloated tummies sent out their S.O.S. warnings (often heard as growls or smelled as dispelled gas), the votes were tallied. Here are the ranking and results of our unofficial backyard campfire S’more survey. (Maximum attainable score was 8 thumbs up – 2 thumbs per voter.)
Drum Roll Please …..
5th Place: Bit O’ Heath S’more (3 thumbs up)
4th Place: PB & M Peanut Butter & Marshmallow S’more (4-1/2 thumbs up)
3rd Place: German Chocolate S’more (6-1/2 thumbs up) **
2nd Place: Original S’more (7-1/2 thumbs up)
1st Place: Caramello S’more (7-1/2 thumbs up)*
*Actually, the Original and the Caramello versions tied at near perfection, but on a show of hands, the Caramello won the tiebreaker.
**Meandering Mike’s personal favorite (the German Chocolate S’more) finished in 3rd place, but if you count Parker Flatly’s 2 cardboard thumbs up, it would have won.
In other words, they’re ALL pretty dang good, so don’t be afraid to try something new!
Note: No marshmallows were burned at the fork in the making of this blog (although one did drop off into the campfire during the roasting process.) Sorry you charcoal-loving, flaming mallow toasters out there. If it ain’t Golden Brown you can drop it on the ground – that’s my motto!
P.S. – If you’re looking for something to make your S’mores a little more “Patriotic” this summer, Hershey’s came out with a Red White & Blue version of their Cookies ‘N’ Creme candy bars that should shake things up a bit around the campfire!
Do you have a favorite S’more substitute that tags along to every campfire? We’d love it if you’d share in the comments box below or email it to us at ParkYourselfOutdoors@gmail.com. Wondering where Meandering Mike and Parker Flatly are going to park themselves next? Well wonder no more! You’ll never miss another post when you sign up for E-mail Notifications here! Thanks for reading. Now fire up that campfire and let’s eat!