All I want for Christmas is for my bag of huge marshmallows to get stale. Really. That’s all.
My family started asking what I wanted this year, and I couldn’t think of anything. I don’t really wear jewelry, I got an iPad last year, and no, I don’t need another sweater. And I started thinking about the things that really delighted me over the past year, and that’s when I thought of the marshmallows.
I stumbled on the particular perfection of the stale marshmallow while in Argentina visiting a friend. My first trip, he asked me to bring a bag of marshmallows; he volunteered at a children’s home nearby, and had been telling the kids about marshmallows, something you can’t buy there.
I stuffed my suitcase with the marshmallows – and all sorts of American treats. We ate the peanut butter and the Pepperidge Farms cookies, but put the marshmallows on the kitchen shelf and forgot about them. When I returned a few months later, there they were, desiccated by the arid climate. Left there in an open bag on the shelf, the marshmallows were transformed from puffy, lumpy wads of sugar to something completely new and delectable. With all the sticky air gone out of them, the marshmallows were firm and chewy and somehow less sweet. They were all grown up.
Fresh marshmallows have never been my thing. The texture is all wrong; something that sweet should not also be soft. If they were less sweet, then maybe I could forgive the squish. But the combination is just a muffled mess.
While others clamored for the soft, yellow Peeps in their Easter baskets, I snubbed the whole row of them and picked through the grass for the jelly beans. Weeks later, when the baskets had been ransacked, I’d find one lone Peep hiding in the grass. It if was firm and dry enough, I’d bite off its head, basking in the chewiness.
The pastel bits in Lucky Charms cereal are stale marshmallows – too stale. They start off crispy so they’ll soften in the milk. One of my favorite aunts used to pick the marshmallow bits out of the cereal and put them in plastic eggs for us. Circus peanuts are a close cousin, but the orange color is a turn-off.
I munched my way through that bag in Argentina. The marshmallows were big enough and stale enough that eating one was as time-consuming as eating a large apple. I bought a bag of the same kind last week, and am hoping for some dry days.
As proof that there is no topic beyond the reach of Google, I found a dozen websites that addressed the problem of stale marshmallows. Sadly, most treated this as a bad thing, offering solutions to reviving the marshmallow that has gone south. There’s a Facebook page titled “Stale Marshmallows.” I thought it was the name of an indie rock band, but no. There are at least 77 other people who like the stale marshmallow. Their best advice was to open the plastic bag and leave it on the counter for a long time.
It’s just 10 days until Christmas. It’s been raining for a few days here and the last I checked, the marshmallows were as full and fluffy as the day they were made. For Christmas, I want them to dry up.
Is that too much to ask?
Beth Dolinar can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.