When I decided to write a column about s'mores and how the sugary, chocolatey treat can lift me out of a bad mood, I made the mistake of Googling them. The myriad of articles propelled me down the rabbit hole and I was overwhelmed by the number of opinions. I thought a cute little story about the potential mental health benefits of eating s'mores around a campfire with friends and family would be simple and fun until I realized that people are passionate about s'more history and how to properly make them. What ever you do, DON'T mess with someone's favorite method of making s'mores. It's a battle you simply won't win.
I know because I got into a bit of a heated discussion about whether or not one should use three squares of chocolate or six squares per s'more (I vote six, by the way).
After reading some of the zillion online articles, I realized that there's no definitive inventor of the smore, but the first recipe was published in a Girl Scout guidebook in 1927. " The book, "Tramping and Trailing with the Girl Scouts," gives the recipe in bulk amounts (16 graham crackers, eight bars of chocolate and 16 marshmallows). Directions say to roast two marshmallows and put them in a graham cracker and chocolate sandwich. The recipe ends by telling would-be s'more eaters that, "Though it tastes like some more one is enough." I find THAT statement to be debatable, as I prefer two. Some articles attribute the creation of the s'more to Loretta Scott Crew, who according to a Girls Scouts blog, made them for scouts around the campfire. But other, later articles refute that.
I also researched the nutrition content of a s'more. For s'mores made with 1/2 of a milk chocolate bar, a graham cracker and two regular-sized marshmallows, you're looking at approximately 225 calories. To be honest, that's fewer calories than I had anticipated (YAY!). There's also a good amount of sugar in each one too, but many stores offer lower sugar and fat versions of the ingredients.
You may have heard that chocolate, especially dark chocolate, may be good for heart health. A Cleveland Clinic online article notes that cocoa contains flavonoids, which are antioxidants that benefit your heart health in ways, such as lowering blood pressure and cholesterol. I, unfortunately, prefer milk chocolate, which contains more sugar and fat than dark chocolate. Perhaps I won't benefit from the chocolate aspect of eating s'mores, but I certainly do enjoy an infusion of happiness when I consume their gooey goodness.
S'mores are one of my go-to comfort foods. And according to an article by Psychology Today, comfort foods may boost feelings of wellbeing and decrease feelings of loneliness. Those two things add up to an increased level of happiness. Then, if you cook, assemble and eat your comfort s'more in the setting of a warm and wonderful campfire surrounded by people you enjoy, I bet your happiness level could soar off the charts.
For those of you who are not able to access campfires, fear not. S'mores are just as tasty and mood-boosting when cooked inside over a hot stove or oven (kids, don't do this without a grown-up to help you). During the COVID-19 shutdown, I was an essential caregiver for my mom, who was in an assisted-living facility. One day she was reminiscing about roasting marshmallows and making s'mores. I brought the ingredients over on my next visit and we whipped up some s'mores. We shared stories, laughed, got way too sticky from melted marshmallows and forgot for a while that we were in the middle of a deadly pandemic.
True, s'mores may not be as healthy as a fruit salad or bowl of steamed veggies dressed with a drizzle of olive oil. But an occasional indulgence in that sweet treat certainly makes for a healthy quality of life.
Vivien Williams is a video content producer for NewsMD and the host of "Health Fusion." She can be reached at email@example.com.