In the time of the Ancient Egyptians, a confection of sap from the marshmallow plant (which is in the same plant family as okra, cotton and hibiscus, and has similar-looking blooms) blended with honey was a delicacy served to the Pharaohs. In 19th century France, a descendant of the modern marshmallow was used as a medicinal treat, calming a persistent cough or settling an upset stomach. The sweet panacea caught on with confectioners and soon lost its medicinal associations to become a favorite treat throughout Europe.
Today, marshmallows are made using gelatin instead of the confection’s namesake plant, but they have otherwise remained unchanged since they enthralled candy lovers in the 1800s. They can now be found in a variety of colors, flavors and shapes, but the simple white puff of goo remains a favorite year 'round.