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What Are Cereal Marshmallows?

By C.B. Fox
Updated May 16, 2024
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Cereal marshmallows are pieces of crunchy marshmallows that are sometimes included in sweet breakfast cereals. Unlike regular marshmallows, which remain soft and fluffy even if they become slightly stale, cereal marshmallows are dense and crunchy. They soften when they are placed in a liquid, such as milk, and take on a spongier consistency more reminiscent of regular marshmallows. This type of marshmallow is made from a combination of gelatin, corn syrup, sugar, and flavorings such as vanilla.

The original idea for cereal marshmallows came from the combination of breakfast cereal and a candy called circus peanuts. This type of candy is similar to a marshmallow, though gooier when fresh and crunchier when stale. When a product developer at General Mills threw a few stale circus peanuts into a bowl of cold cereal, he invented the first cereal with cereal marshmallows.

There is not much difference between cereal marshmallows and regular marshmallows. Both are made from sugar, corn syrup, and gelatin and set to form a slightly gooey candy. Flavorings, such as vanilla, orange, or chocolate may also be added to marshmallows. Though regular marshmallows are usually white, food dye is often added to cereal marshmallows.

The main thing that distinguishes cereal marshmallows from regular marshmallows is the texture. A cereal marshmallow needs to harden into a small, firm, sugary candy. Altering the recipe used in regular marshmallows, by adding corn starch or using a corn syrup that readily crystallizes, can help transform fluffy marshmallows into crunchy ones. Cereal marshmallows also need plenty of exposure to air so that they can dry out properly.

Many people enjoy the flavor of cereal marshmallows. These candies do not usually have a strong or distinctive flavor, aside from being very sweet. When combined with a breakfast cereal, the marshmallows will sweeten the milk because some of the sugar in them dissolves as they sit in the milk. They do not, however, provide much extra sweetness to the cereal itself, which is why many cereals that make use of these candies are also sugar coated.

The use of cereal marshmallows in children's cereal has come under criticism. While the high amount of sugar in them will give children an energy boost in the morning, as the sugar leaves the body it can cause drowsiness and irritability. Diets high in sugar can also contribute to the development of type two diabetes, a condition that is sometimes observed in children.

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Discussion Comments
By turquoise — On May 03, 2014

@ysmina-- I agree that very sweet cereals are not suitable for breakfast. But I think they're okay as a between meal snack or as dessert as you said. The key is moderation and knowing when and how to consume these foods. I eat cereal with marshmallows and plain yogurt for dessert frequently. It's tasty and not a terribly unhealthy treat.

By ysmina — On May 02, 2014

I'm not fond of cereal marshmallows and I avoid buying such cereals for my children. The article is absolutely correct about the downsides of high sugar cereals for kids. The sudden sugar spikes caused by cereal marshmallows will not only make kids irritated and fatigue later in the day, but it also prepares them for metabolic disorders in the future. As a diabetic, I know that sudden sugar spikes and falls, and consistently high sugar levels lead to insulin resistance.

What children need is sustained energy and balanced sugar levels. These can only be achieved with foods high in nutrients, fiber and low in sugar. Some children's cereals are okay as breakfast, but some of them are more like dessert. Cereals with cereal marshmallows definitely fit into this category because the marshmallows are just sugar. Actually, they're not even sugar, they contain glucose or high fructose corn syrup and these are even worse than table sugar.

By literally45 — On May 02, 2014

My cereal has dry fruit and cereal marshmallows. It took me a while to figure out that the small pink things in my cereal are marshmallows. I didn't know that they are called "marshmallows" but that makes sense because they become soft and chewy after absorbing milk. But they're not like marshmallows in the traditional sense. Cereal marshmallows still remain a bit spongy, whereas normal marshmallows are completely chewy and gooey. They do make a nice addition to cereal though.

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