The cultural significance of the s’mores latte
The Aquarian Exposition of Aug 15–18, 1969 — “3 Days of Peace & Music” that came to be forever known as “Woodstock” — brought audiences that totaled about 400,000 to the hills of Max Yasgur’s farm in Bethel, New York.
If all the people who claim they were there actually had been, the attendance total would probably have equaled the population of New York City, two hours away from the festivities and home to 16 million back then (though it would have taken a lot longer than two hours to make that commute on those three days).
The point? Lots of us have fond memories of things we’ve never experienced. Hence, the nationwide popularity of the s’mores latte.
There s’more to the story.
Make no mistake, there’s no way of knowing how many millions of us have actually experienced s’mores in their natural habitat: outdoors, around a campfire, surrounded by other Boy or Girl Scouts. (Rarely both, unless there’ some unauthorized interleague “camping” going on.) That’s the setting in which the confection we know as the s’more came about: a marshmallow toasted over the fire on a stick, then put atop a piece of milk chocolate and smashed between two graham crackers.
These gooey goldmines go way, way back. They first showed up in cookbooks in the 1920s, but of course, that was just for people who needed a cookbook to tell them how to make s’mores. Campers had been making them long before they got in print. In fact, one of the reasons Washington’s army faced such a nightmare at Valley Forge in the winter of 1777 is that they ran out of marshmallows. [No it isn’t. Ed.]
But let’s be honest: Most of us weren’t Girl Scouts or Boy Scouts. Most have never had the experience of trapping and eating the wild s’more.
So why are Americans so crazy about the blended coffee drink that’s named after it: the s’mores latte? And why are we at Sip meeting new people who find us by Googling “s’mores latte near me”?
One ingredient of the s’mores latte is nostalgia
Not that we care how you find us. You walk in, we’re happy to make you whatever you want. It’s just that trending things always make us curious; particularly when so many people have never experienced what started the trend.
For those of you who haven’t, here are a few quick facts about s’mores. The snack, not the latte.
- The name “s’more” is a contraction of “some” and “more.” OK, duh, you knew that. But …
- The name isn’t as old as the treat. The name started showing up in the 1930s, but recipes had already been circulating for a decade, usually called “graham cracker sandwiches.”
- The basic ingredients don’t seem to have changed in a century: graham crackers, toasted marshmallow, chocolate — usually half a bar of milk chocolate; and preferably the kind that breaks into squares easily.
- One of the first cookbooks to include the recipe for a graham cracker sandwich was published somewhere around 1920 by the Campfire company. And what did they make? Marshmallows. Still do, under different ownership. It was an entire book of recipes that all called for marshmallows.
- They called them graham cracker sandwiches, too, but their recipe was specifically titled “Campfire Graham Cracker Sandwiches.” Way to represent!
- They did give credit to Boy Scouts and Girls Scouts, though, and they specified, “To be made around an open fire.”
Now as you can probably figure out, if you haven’t experienced stalking and conquering the wild s’more, it’s best eaten warm. (Truth is, the boxed versions of s’mores sold by some companies — even by the Girl Scouts during cookie season — don’t really approximate the true experience. And don’t get us started on the breakfast cereal.)
And that’s another difference between s’more the snack and s’more the latte: ours is served cold.
A s’mores latte is cold?!
Yes, that’s correct: It’s an iced s’mores latte. There are two kinds of lattes in the world, and this is one of the cold ones.
Now we know that may seem kind of hypocritical of us since we were throwing shade on those pseudos’mores a second ago. But we stand by that because some of them are trying to be s’mores. It’ll say right there on the box (and here’s a dead giveaway) that it’s “The same great taste you remember from around the campfire!” So is it?
No. No, it’s not. And neither is our latte. But ours isn’t trying to be. True, it combines the same three basic flavors (before adding delicious coffee!). But it’s no more a s’more than Mr. Stay-Puft is made of Campfire marshmallows. There can be only one, you big pudge!
But our s’more latte might … just might … help you conjure up some wonderful memories of those days when you might have made real, by-god s’mores. So if you want to try, c’mon in! Come with friends. Gather ’round the … GIF of a campfire on your phone. Sing some songs. Drink your s’mores latte.
Of course, it will also give you that caffeine boost, so if you want, if you’re feeling really nostalgic, go out after dark and try to find a camp of like-minded Boy or Girl Scouts recreationists. Maybe you’ll meet somebody new and interesting and you can … check each other for ticks or whatever they do on those illicit interleague scouting adventures. We don’t know. We weren’t scouts.
We were at Woodstock, though. Let us tell you about it …