Today is National Marshmallow Toasting Day. You may wonder what that has to do with your American pronunciation, but I think it is a tasty opportunity to introduce you to a yummy part of American culture, and have a lesson on word contractions as well.
First for the American culture.
I think every American kid who has ever been around a campfire has had at least one s’more. In case you’ve never heard of a s’more, it is a dessert easily assembled outdoors and only requires three ingredients: marshmallows, graham crackers, and milk chocolate bars. The key ingredient is the marshmallow, which must be speared onto a long stick and toasted to perfection over the fire.
“Perfection” is a matter of debate between marshmallow toasting enthusiasts. Some people like their marshmallows slightly toasted, while others burn them to a blackened crisp. I like mine slightly toasted. My kids, however, compete to see who can keep their marshmallow burning the longest without it falling off the stick.
One crucial trick we have learned is that the cheap brands of marshmallows always end up as one huge, sticky glob. Buy the Jet-Puff brand marshmallows if you want to actually get the marshmallows out of the bag and onto the stick to roast them. Roast your marshmallows until they are slightly brown to charred black. The trick is to get them soft and gooey on the inside.
If you have a steady hand and you’re a bit of a pyromaniac, you can rest a graham cracker topped with a chocolate bar on one of the logs while you’re roasting your marshmallow. It’s definitely a balancing act, but if you’re successful, you get yummy, gooey chocolate on your s’more. When your marshmallow is softened, pull it off the stick, place it on a graham cracker, add a piece of chocolate bar, and top it with another graham cracker. Enjoy!
Now for the American pronunciation lesson.
The word s’more is actually a contraction or shortening of two words, much like can’t from can not or we’ll from we will. No one is clear on when this campfire dessert originated, but a recipe was found in a Girl Scout handbook from the 1920’s. Even then, they were referred to as “Some Mores”, as in “they’re so good you’ll want some more.”
Over time, the name was shortened to S’mores, which was just easier and quicker to say. When you say the word S’more, the s and m blend as if it were a consonant cluster, just as in the word smell. So, you can say: I smell s’mores cooking, and the two uses of sm sound exactly the same.
Now, let’s practice using several contractions in one sentence:
We’ll eat s’mores until we can’t eat any more!
For a fun and tasty treat, try making s’mores and let me know how you like them!
Want more tips to improve your American pronunciation? To get your FREE guide, How to Speak English Like an American, just enter your name and e-mail in the box to your right.
- 8/31/2010 10:24 AM Whitney Ferre’ wrote:
Lisa, I had an inkling about the source of s’more, but glad to know its Girl Scouts origin. I LOVED s’mores as a kid! I never tried the graham cracker/chocolate balancing act. Thanks for the tip.
- 8/31/2010 12:53 PM Jeff Brunson wrote:
Dang. Now I’m hungry for this sweet treat. I’m checking my calendar to see if I have time to go start a campfire in the backyard!
- 8/31/2010 1:58 PM Sue Painter wrote:
I didn’t know s’mores came from the Girl Scouts, but wherever they came from they are good!
- 11/10/2010 6:09 AM internet marketing company wrote:
Even i wasn’t aware that it came from girl scouts.
- 8/31/2010 3:22 PM Terri Brooks wrote:
Ok, I have to fess up. I’ve never eaten a s’more. 🙂 I like all of the components, but have just never made them. Even as a kid! So definitely this fall, I will have a s’more and think of you Lisa!!
- 9/1/2010 11:35 AM Lisa Scott wrote:
Terri,I must admit that I’m surprised, but I do hope you enjoy them!
- 9/1/2010 11:35 AM Lisa Scott wrote:
- 9/1/2010 8:12 AM Linda Pucci wrote:
What a creative way to teach about contractions, Lisa. BTW, the 4th component needed is a wet cloth to wipe off our sticky hands!
- 9/1/2010 11:33 AM Lisa Scott wrote:
Good point, Linda! 🙂
- 9/1/2010 10:07 PM Beth Woodward wrote:
YUM! Have you had GUCCI s’mores? Go to the gourmet aisle in your store and find the BEST chocolate cookies in place of graham crackers and Hershey’s. Add those delicious, heated marshmallows.
- 9/5/2010 3:17 PM Melanie wrote:
Yummmmmy! For the last couple of years, the women who have participated in my Fall Women’s Retreat have insisted on s’mores….this makes me look forward to the retreat even more!
- 10/13/2010 2:45 AM janitorial equipment wrote:
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- 10/13/2010 6:21 AM american wrote:
Learning grammar can be boring but you have found a fun way to teach it and I applaud you. We made s’mores whenever our parents weren’t home.