Once upon a time, there was the first fire. Since there were no newspapers around to record the event, scientists who care about such things are busy arguing about when it actually happened. I’m not a scientist who cares about such things, so I am not worrying. My in-depth research shows it was a long time ago and that ever since then “don’t leave the fire burning when you go out!” has been bellowed by parents everywhere. At least until 1915, when the British song Keep the Home Fires Burning was recorded.
People began to actively use fire once someone figured out that steak tartare is quite delicious when served medium rare on a bun with various condiments, and that fish fries are considerably better when the fish isn’t sushi style.
There is lots of mythology about fire. The Greek god Hephaestus (the Romans called him Vulcan) was the god of the forge and volcanos, and Prometheus gave the gift of fire to man. (It is not clear if anyone ever wrote a thank you note.) Gerra is the Babylonian and Akkadian god of fire. Jacawitz was the Mayan fire deity. In Norse mythology, Logi was the fire god. There are lots of other cultures that have fire gods/goddesses; you are a Bright Young Thing and can look them up in the comfort of your own home if you are so interested.
As an aside, Prometheus and Hermes, both have a claim to the gift of fire. Prometheus gave fire to people. Hermes is credited with discovering how to produce it. More importantly, Hermes is the god of business people and thieves (I love that) and the symbol for Columbia University’s School of Business.
The point is, we are fascinated by fire. It is a wonderful useful thing that can also wreak tremendous damage (just ask Shere Khan). For as long as there have been people (a date I leave others to argue about), we have controlled and been controlled by fire.
Fast forward to the early 1900s when Milton Hershey got around to inventing the Hershey bar, completing the triad of ingredients necessary for scouts to make s’mores around a campfire.
Since then (possibly before then too) people have been arguing over the proper way to roast a marshmallow. On one side of the football stadium we have the “Gently rotate the marshmallow until it is a rich, golden brown on all sides” group. On the other side we have the “Char the sucker!” camp. Each side shouts at each other (“Less filling” “Tastes great”) until someone’s marshmallow lands in the fire and everyone starts concentrating on the task at hand. Or at stick.
In my opinion, the only improperly roasted marshmallow is one that has dirt, pine needles, or ants on it.
As I mentioned, s’mores are the proper campfire food. S’mores and banana boats, but banana boats are basically bananas stuffed with s’mores and what can be bad about that?
In recent years there have been lots of variations on s’mores. Pi prefers them with a Reeces peanut butter cup rather than plain chocolate (although will happily use peanut butter and a Hershey bar if there aren’t any peanut butter cups in the vicinity). Pinterest has taken the whole s’more thing to an entirely new level with Peppermint Patti s’mores, s’more brownies, pretzel s’mores, s’more pancakes, s’more fudge…sigh. I love Pinterest. There was an entrepreneur on Shark Tank who made S’muffins which (presumably) were s’more-like muffins (although the sharks didn’t think they tasted like s’mores).
Thanks for building a great fire last night. A good time was had by all.