Tampering with tradition

I had a s’mores conversation around the campfire last night.

We were in the middle of Sturgeon Bay, outside the motel where our singer friends were staying after their concert (with George as accompanist). Wine and beer, cheeses and humus, popcorn and crackers overflowed one small table, typical convenience-store fare for those who don’t eat before performing, and who discover the restaurants around here roll up their sidewalks by 9 p.m.

Carbs, protein, libation–and s’mores.

“I’ve been looking forward to this all day,” Diane said, as the graham crackers were finally broken open, the chocolate unwrapped and the marshmallows skewered. Second childhood, here we come.

But for Allen, there was nothing “second” about it. With a little help, he assembled his first-ever s’more, eying it with some suspicion as he scrunched the layers together as directed and licked up the sugary goo that escaped along the edges.

Via Bing Images

Via Bing Images

He nibbled away without comment, one small bite at a time, as others returned to the fire for seconds and thirds.

Then he said it. He made the suggestion that stopped me and his wife in mid-conversation.

“You’d think,” he said, like restaurant reviewer, “that they’d come up with something more interesting than a graham cracker.”

My eyes widened. Mary was at a loss for words. This was TRADITION he was taking issue with! No Scout outing, no camping trip, no campfire assembly has ever been complete without that handily packed box of graham crackers. They’re breakfast when spread with peanut butter, snacks when eaten plain–and s’mores when paired with marshmallow-and-chocolate.

Mary’s eyes gave it away first. Then she grinned at the temptation to tamper with this time-honored ritual. And the ideas began to flow, first from one, then the other.

“How about chocolate grahams?” I suggested.

“Or cinnamon?” she volleyed. “Or vanilla wafers?”

Shortbread? Sugar cookies? The possibilities began to open up. Then Allen took the flavor-mixing options to the limit when he suggested gingersnaps. A late bloomer, the guy was catching on quickly.

One thing should never change, though. Barb noted that it’s possible to buy square, flattened marshmallows specifically for making s’mores. Those, we agreed, will never do. Those would be no fun at all, and they’d take the challenge out of s’more building.

The idea is to flatten those round, toasted marshmallows, to squish them and watch the goo spread. There must always be the danger of dripping, the necessity for finger licking before that first bite is taken. There must always be the element of messiness to take this dessert far from civilized neatness to outdoor abandon.

Who would have guessed that s’mores could also be food for thought?


About Monica Sawyn

I'm a retired newspaper reporter/columnist, and although I still freelance, I miss the weekly column I used to write. I still "see columns" in everyday life and need a place to put them after they're written--thus, this blog. I'm Catholic, have been a Benedictine oblate since 1977, and live with my husband and our beagle in Sturgeon Bay, Wis. When I'm not writing, I'm probably reading, sewing, taking photos or walking the dog.
This entry was posted in Food, Human behavior, Humor and tagged , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

8 Responses to Tampering with tradition

  1. Mike Wojta says:

    Bland;, but I thought that we were supposed to be leaven in the world…; food for thought.

  2. You’ve got me going now. Other toppings, perhaps? Oreos? Caramel? Fruit wraps? Hmmmm.

  3. blb1 says:

    When we had a campfire we simply toasted marshmallows until they were black on the outside. No crackers.

    • Monica Sawyn says:

      I have to confess, we did the same. I suppose I had s’mores now and then, but my mother was always worried about how much sugar we ate, so she wasn’t a fan of marshmallows or candy.

  4. Nellie Prince says:

    The Pioneer Woman once suggested chocolate graham crackers, a York peppermint pattie and chocolate. Must say, I have been wanting to try this, but have never found all three ingredients at the same time when I have been on a camping trip. I am still looking forward to trying this, though.

  5. Nellie Prince says:

    Oops, thought I corrected my comment. The recipe was a chocolate graham cracker, a York peppermint pattie and a marshmallow. Now that sounds better!

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