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Marshmallows Not Just Plain Vanilla Anymore

Marshmallows Not Just Plain Vanilla Anymore

This product image released by Plush Puffs shows a couple of their gourmet marshmallows roasting. (AP Photo/Plush Puff)

Michelle Locke | Associated Press

BERKELEY, Calif. – If you’re still using plain old vanilla marshmallows at your campfire or in your cocoa, you’re out of touch.

The next generation of marshmallow lovers is amping the flavor of their puffy confections, taking their s’mores to new heights with tricks like slicing and stuffing them. And the marshmallow industry is taking notice.

Long a fixture in the baking aisle, marshmallows have been making their way back to candy land lately, thanks in large part to swirled, flavored, stuffed and otherwise jazzed up versions intended to appeal to consumers ever on the prowl for new tastes.

Like chocolate with your marshmallow? Consider the chocolate-drizzled marshmallows called Zebras launched last year by Doumak Inc., the Chicago area-based maker of Campfire brand marshmallows.

“I gotta tell you, people are going bananas over it,” says Mark Schuessler, vice president of sales and marketing for Doumak

Prefer your chocolate – or jelly – on the inside? Try Keith Baskett’s creation, stuffed marshmallows that he modestly declares “the best thing that ever happened to a marshmallow.”

Retail marshmallow sales (excluding Walmart) totaled about $146 million in 2008, up from $141 million the year before, according to market research firm Information Resources Inc.

That’s a fraction of the billions spent on chocolate, “but there are opportunities because we’re back to looking at marshmallows less as a baking ingredient and more as a treat,” says Bernard Pacyniak, editor-in-chief of Candy Industry, a Deerfield, Ill.-based trade magazine.

Baskett says his stuffed puffs, sold under the GudFud label, were inspired by mochi, a Japanese rice cake often stuffed with a filling such as sweetened red bean paste.

Baskett, who has “loved marshmallows since the early days of being around campfires,” decided to make the concept a little fluffier, then stuffed them with chocolate or grape, orange or strawberry jelly.

Launched in 2007, the stuffed marshmallows are sold in brightly decorated packaging that combines Japanese-style graphics – each product has a different face – and Germanic type. There are umlauts over the “u’s” in GudFud.