Monday, November 19, 2007

The Tale of the "Vegetarian" Marshmallow

Today I received a most exciting email:

Dear Beth,

We are pleased to report that a product in the VeganEssentials Online Store, about which you requested notification, is now in stock.

Product: Vanilla Vegan Marshmallows by Sweet & Sara

About two years ago I decided that I really needed to find me some vegetarian marshmallows1. I've been a vegetarian for over a decade and while I'm perfectly happy not eating meat, I really do miss marshmallows3. I can have marshmallow creme, as that is usually vegetarian, but you can't toast a jar of marshmallow creme! At that time, I found a brand called "Vegan Supreme Marshmallows." They were stupid expensive - if memory serves me, they cost something like US$8, plus shipping, for a bag containing 18 marshmallows. But it was oh so worth it to toast marshmallows on my stove again!

I was so excited, in fact, about the discovery of this product that I emailed both Choices & Capers, two local fru-fru organic grocery stores and told them that if they carried these 'mallows, I knew many, many vegetarians who would be more than happy to buy them. Choices ignored me, but Capers actually started carrying them, which meant I could just pay $8 a bag, no shipping. At that point, my life was basically complete5. Until one day, when I went into Capers and lo and behold, no Vegan Supremes! I asked one of the staff what was up with that and he said that "one of their ingredient suppliers went out of business so they can't make their marshmallows anymore." I'm not sure why, but I assumed that it was the maker of their vegan sugar6. I was totally disappointed, but I figured that in the long run it might be a good thing for my chequebook and my waistline to not have such ready access to these tasty treats.

Skip forward a few months and, in a fit of procrastination no doubt, I decided to see if that company had ever found new suppliers. Googling "Vegan Supreme Marshmallows" yielded this: as it turns out, the company that he been supplying the vegetarian gelatin substitute to the company that made V.S.M. was just lying - they were just selling regular old animal bone & skin-derived gelatin! Which means that I had been eating gelatin! And, to add insult to injury, I was paying $8 a bag to do so! So gross!!!

Anyway, after a recent conversation I had about marshmallows in which I recounted this tale8, I got thinking about marshmallows again and Googled and found that Sweet & Sara was now making vegetarian marshmallows, but the dealer, the VeganEssentials Online Store, was out of stock! I was thinking that perhaps they had met a similar fate, but signed up for a notification in case they ever had them again... and apparently they do! And just now I found the following on YouTube which explains all:

Part 1 of the video:

Part 2 of the video:

So, mystery solved. Sweet & Sara marshmallows really are veggie and my life is, once again, complete. Or it will be in 6-9 days9.

1Almost all marshmallows are made with gelatin2, and thus not vegetarian.
2Gelatin is made from animal bones/skin/hooves. Yum!
3And Mini Wheats, which also contain gelatin. My kingdom for a gelatin free Mini Wheat!!
4And this was back when the US dollar was worth more than the Canadian dollar.
5I know I've said that about my Treo, my eBay shoes and various other purchases, but really, it was the vegetarian marshmallows that completed my life. No, really.
6Refined sugar is often processed through bone char7
7Yup, "bone char" is exactly what it sounds like it is - charcoal made from bones.
8I really only have about 5 stories that I tell (e.g, the veggie marshmallow story, the story about how my sister screwed me out of tonnes of money when we delivered newspapers when we were little, this time I bought these shoes on eBay). After that, I'm pretty much out of material.
9Estimated shipping time to Canada.


Kalev said...

You are the awesome for tracking these down.

Anonymous said...

I know this is an old post, but Kashi has a gelatin free mini wheat type cereal. And Kellogg's and Post unsweetened shredded wheats are gelatin free.

Beth said...

Anonymous, you had me going for a minute! But I checked the Kashi website and all they have a shredded Wheats type cereal, not a Mini-Wheat-like cereal. The whole point of what makes Mini-Wheats sooo good is the sugary coating! I can get Shredded Wheat cereal anytime... but if I could find one like Mini-Wheats, then I'd be a happy, happy girl.

Anonymous said...

Kellogg's Organic Frosted Mini-Wheats contain no gelatin.

Beth said...

OMG, I've never heard of such a thing! Where does one buy such a product?

Beth said...

I've logged on both the Canadian & American Kellogg's websites and there doesn't appear to be any such things as "Organic Frosted Mini-Wheats." Why do you tease me so?

whispah said...

Beth said...

How do you know these don't contain gelatin? The Amazon site seems to give the nutrient breakdown, but not ingredients...

Kalev said...

If you do a web search on them, you can find veggie/vegan sites extolling their virtues and listing their full ingredients, which do not include gelatin. However the problem is that apparently Kellogg's doesn't make them anymore

Beth said...

It's a conspiracy! A conspiracy to keep me from eating Mini Wheats!

Anonymous said...

I bought a box of organic frosted mini wheats some months ago, I checked the ingredients and no they don't have gelatin, but I haven't been able to find them since.

Laurie said...

1. Kashi makes "Cinnamon Harvest" which is basically a cinnamon flavored Mini-Wheat - ingredients on box don't say gelatin, but I'm guessing Kashi doesn't use gelatin.

2. Stop paying so much for vegetarian marshmallows and make your own. I've also been obsessed with a) making my own since store-bought usually suck; and b) making a vegetarian version. I've finally perfected a recipe that is delicious by combining a recipe from Clotilde at Chocolate & Zucchini with one from Elizabeth Falkner of Citizen Cake. Because everyone was tired of me going on and on about marshmallows, I've hidden the recipe on my blog under the February 14, 2008 post. If you don't like rose flavoring, you can substitute a smaller amount of vanilla, and then you'll have plain ole' marshmallow flavor.

Laurie said...

Me again...guess I should have looked to see you moved your website. Oh well. And my URL didn't show up. Oh well again. For the vegetarian marshmallow recipe to which I refer above, go to

Beth said...

No worries about commenting here instead of on my newer site - I still get an email if anyone comments here.

Thanks for the recipe for homemade marshmallows - I totally want to try them, but it looks like they are quite involved, so I'll need to find a time when I have a whole day free. Also, where do you buy xanthan gum from?

Laurie said...

Xanthan gum is actually usually easy to find in the baking aisle - it's next to the quirky flours and things that come in 8 oz (226 gram) packages. Bob's Red Mill makes a lot of these specialty flours and grains - including xanthan gum which looks like a flour-y substance. Also, don't be put off by the "day one", "day two" - I literally whipped up a batch at 10:00pm in about 15 total minutes, then put it in the refrigerator overnight. It needs time to "set up". Good luck!

Beth said...

Awesome! Thanks, Laurie! I'll be sure to post a blog entry on these on my new blog once I get a chance to try the recipe out.

veganmarshies said...

There is now an open source vegan marshmallow that works!

This site has everything you ever wanted to know about vegan marshmallows, including a great step-by-step open-source recipe, commercial brands and additional recipes like mocha marshmallows and margarita marshmallows.