One of the best things about camping is the promise of melty, gooey marshmallows roasted to golden brown over a roaring campfire.
I have many fond camping memories of scouring the woods looking for the best marshmallow roasting stick, then later relaxing at camp with s'mores as the sun set.
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It's Delicious, But What is It?
Marshmallows as a confection appear around 2000 BC. Originally made from the sap of the marshmallow plant and honey, they were reserved for Pharaohs and other royalty. Over time it's evolved into the treat we eat today, though the marshmallow sap has been swapped out for gelatin. You can now buy them in all different sizes, colors, flavors and shapes, or you can even easily make your own.
Nobody knows when roasted marshmallows first graced the campfire with their delicious molten insides, but the first recipe for the camping classic s'mores can be found in the 1927 Girl Scout Handbook. “Toast two marshmallows over the coals to a crisp gooey state,” the recipe begins, then adding familiar graham crackers and chocolate to make a “Some More” as the treats were originally called.
Getting the Perfect Roasted Marshmallow
There are some tricks involved in getting your marshmallow to the right state. It should be a golden brown on the outside and the insides should be melted and gooey all the way through. The first step is waiting for your camp fire to die down to either a low flame or embers.
Higher flames can cause them to burst into flame, charring the outside and leaving the inside unmelted. Almost all of us have been on the wrong end of the marshmallow roasting stick and had this happen! It pays to wait for a lower fire to ensure that your marshmallows don't go to waste.
So when you've waited for your fire, now it's time to roast! Find a spot by the campfire, preferably upwind from the prevailing smoke direction, and slowly rotate your marshmallow about six to eight inches above the fire. This should ensure a crispy golden brown outside and a perfectly gooey inside. If it does catch fire, don't panic! Gently blow on the flames until they go out.
What Makes The Best Marshmallow Roasting Sticks
The traditional way to get your marshmallow into the fire has been a stick. The best marshmallow roasting sticks should be long enough to keep you a safe distance from the campfire, but sturdy enough so that the stick itself doesn't catch fire.
If you are camping in a wooded area, sticks are usually plentiful and easy to find. If you happen to find a roasting stick that narrows enough at the end you job is pretty much finished, otherwise you can use a pen knife to sharpen the end to a point to make sure that your marshmallow better stays put when it's over the fire.
But finding that perfect campfire stick isn't always easy. For instance, camping at the beach presents a challenge. You may be able to find wood suitable for your campfire, but smaller sticks for marshmallow roasting can be hard to find. If you have a large camping group, it can be impossible to find the correct number of sticks so everyone can have one.
If you forget to bring a pen knife, it gets harder to find a roasting stick that keeps them in place since you can't sharpen the end. If you're in a drier area there's also a possibility of your stick going up in flames once it's gone a couple of rounds in the fire. And once I had a stick that looked perfect on the outside, but when it hit the flames many small bugs emerged running for their lives!
Depending on which part of the country you live in, you should also consider hazards associated with rooting around on the forest floor and in deadfalls, especially the danger of deer ticks that carry Lyme Disease. While seasoned adult campers may be wary of what to watch out for, children may not always be as vigilant. Other bugs like wolf spiders or fire ants can inflict a painful bite, and depending on the area snakes can be a danger as well.
Marshmallow Sticks Not From the Forest
There are solutions available to the marshmallow stick challenged, ranging from items perfect for outdoor camping to the backyard s'mores enthusiast. They don't have to entirely take the place of the forest campfire sticks hunt, but they make planning your camping trip easier.
You can buy multiple marshmallow sticks to make sure everyone in your group has a perfect stick. Many of the products are reusable so you can be sure you have the perfect marshmallow stick in your pack. The products are also arguably safer as you don't have to root around in leaves or deadfalls for them. Here are a few products I checked out:
MalloMe Bamboo Sticks come in packs of 100 with so they are a great way to ensure a large camping group has perfect campfire roasting sticks for everyone.
Sticks are 30” long to ensure safe distance from the fire and 5mm in diameter providing sturdiness without excessive bulk.
These marshmallow skewers are made from 100% moso bamboo, a hardwood-like bamboo variety so these sticks are not flimsy, and they have semi-sharp points perfect for keeping marshmallows, hot dogs, or other camping stick-based foods in place.
MalloMe roasting sticks are FDA approved and biodegradable.
The only drawback; they are not reusable, so you will have to purchase more once you run out.
These marshmallow forks are telescoping, from 10 to 45 inches allowing you to adjust the fork to your preference.
They are made from non-toxic heat-treated stainless steel, approved by the FDA ,and are non-stick making for easy clean up.
They are equipped with a heat-resistant rubber handle, and their two-prong design better secures marshmallows than the traditional pointed stick. The prongs are also covered in rubber, a great safety feature if children are planning on joining in the roasting fun.
This set only includes five forks, so if you have a larger crowd you will have to buy multiple sets.
While the handle and prong tips are insulated with heat-resistant rubber, the metal will still get hot, so caution, especially with children is appropriate.
The Rome Marshmallow Tree allows you to roast 10 marshmallows at a time, removing the need for a collection of sticks or forks all together.
The tree is approximately three feet long with a wooden handle. The “branches” can be bent to your preference.
Featured on the Food Network, it's a rare cook's tool that combines both beauty and function!
Since it holds ten marshmallows you can take care of many marshmallow lovers at once, but since it requires only one user, people who enjoy roasting marshmallows or are fussy about doneness may feel left out.
The tree is quite large, and would be hard to bring along on a camping trip that required a lot of hiking to your camp. It's probably best suited for car camping or backyard fire pits.
The metal gets very hot, and since it is such a large roaster it requires caution.
The prongs are not serrated or covered in any way, so when the metal heats up marshmallows can easily slip off.
This roaster is designed like a fishing pole. It's about 34” long and made out of steel, with a wood insulated handle. At the end of the “line” (made of steel) there's a four-pronged “hook”. The “hook” is designed so a simple jig of the rod will flip your marshmallows.
The design is very cute, and especially fun for kids. The length keeps them a safe distance from the fire and the fishing aspect adds a new twist on marshmallow roasting.
It only holds four marshmallows, which once again means you have to buy multiple rods if you have a large crowd at your campsite or fire pit.
The metal parts of the line and hook will get very hot, so caution should be used especially with children.
The prongs of the hook have no serrations to help hold the marshmallows in place. Once the metal gets hot it is difficult to keep the marshmallows on the hook.
This marshmallow roaster is perfect for backyard camping, or maybe a glamping trip where a fire might not be present.
The S'mores maker has a sturdy plastic tray for s'mores ingredients with a Sterno heat management system in the middle. You insert a can of Sterno S'mores Heat and light it, then cover it with a screen that protects marshmallows and fingers from direct heat.
If it rains on your camping trip this is a good alternative if you must have S'mores!
It comes with two stainless steel roasting forks. This item is not compatible with other Sterno brand canned heat products, so finding a local source if you run out may be problematic.
Once again, there's a lot of metal with this set that is exposed to direct heat. The roasting forks have no insulation at all on them, so repeated use in a single sitting could be dangerous.
While there's only two forks, there really isn't room over the canned heat for more, so a large group will have to be patient.
While fun, this set can't really make the equivalent of a campfire roasted marshmallow. It will get your marshmallow warm enough to make a s'more, but just barely.
Summing Things Up
There are many creative solutions to the problem of finding the perfect stick to roast your marshmallows. Above all it should be an easy and fun way to enjoy a sweet treat.
After looking at all these gadgets I like the MallowMe Bamboo Roasting Sticks the best. They are perfect smore sticks, and come in a large enough pack that everyone at your campsite can have one.
They are long enough to stay a safe distance from the fire, and their sharpened points make it easy to get your marshmallow on, while the texture of the bamboo keeps them from slipping off.
They avoid the main pitfall of all the other items, hot metal, by being made of wood. Their biodegradable nature makes them environmentally friendly, far and above the other contenders which will end up in a landfill when their lifespan is finished. But perhaps what I like best about them is they are the the closest thing to the traditional stick as you can get, but better.