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The marshmallow is a confection that, in its modern form, consists of sugar or corn syrup, beaten egg whites, gelatin that has been pre-softened in water, gum arabic and flavorings, whipped to a spongy consistency. The traditional recipe used an extract from the mucilaginous root of the marshmallow plant, a shrubby herb (Althaea officinalis), instead of gelatin; the mucilage performed as a cough suppressant.

Commercial marshmallows are a late 19th century innovation. Since Alex Doumak's patented extrusion process of 1948, marshmallows are extruded as soft cylinders, cut in sections and rolled in a mix of finely powdered cornstarch and confectioner's sugar.

Marshmallows are popular with children and adults alike, and are eaten with or without accompaniments. In the United States and elsewhere, marshmallows are also used in hot chocolate or café mocha (mochachino), mallomars, in peeps and other candy, on top of candied sweet potatoes during Thanksgiving, in Rice Krispie treats, in ice cream flavors such as Rocky road, and several other foodstuffs.

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