Saturday, October 29, 2011

Weekend Cooking #14: Victory through Snap, Crackle and Pop

The story goes that in or around 1939, Mildred Day, an employee of the Kellogg’s company, and her friend Malitta Jensen, were asked to develop something using Campfire Marshmallows for a fundraiser for a group of Camp Fire Girls. They came up with the now iconic Rice Krispies Marshmallow Squares recipe.

Rice Krispie Squares turned out to be such a favorite that the Kellogg’s company decided to market them. The ad and recipe appeared in all kinds of magazines and journals. Life magazine ran the ad regularly, as did McCall’s, Ladies Home Journal and Good Housekeeping. But it could also be found in The Locomotive Engineers Journal, The Girl’s Daily Life and The Journal of Home Economics, among others. 

Ads also ran promoting Rice Krispies Marshmallow Squares for holidays such a Halloween, Thanksgiving and Christmas.

Once the US entered World War II, these treats became a favorite item of families sending packages to loved oned serving in the Armed Forces and these sweet, gooey confections are often remembered in war time memories. To wit:

“Mail call always brought the men back to sanity, and he [Elvin Crandell] looked forward to the rice-crispy treats Marjorie frequently mailed to him.” in From the Battle Front to the Home Front by Kay B. Hall, page 167.

“A baby in the house also meant extra powdered eggs. They were delicious. Along with powdered chocolate, all kinds of good things could be made with them, such as chocolate Rice Krispie squares.” in On the Home Front: Growing up in Wartime England by Ann Stalcup, page 54.

“Families frequently…packed nonperishable items, such as Kellogg’s Rich Krispies Marshmallow Treats, first advertised in 1940, to send to family members not able to attend [family festivities] in World War II and the Postwar Yeats in America by William H. Young and Nancy K. Young, page 343.

Rice Krispies Marshmallow Squares were an ideal treat during the war, since eating cereal was always encouraged for its nutritional value, an advertising ploy aimed at making mothers happy. But, more importantly, there was always that nifty prize you could send for with enough box tops and a little money, an advertising ploy aimed at kids. And, best of all, marshmallows were never rationed and you could make these rice treats with butter substitutes.

Naturally, when I discovered that these treats were and are still being sent to loved one serving in the Armed Forces, I thought This is great. It meant I could whip up a batch and send them to my daughter in China, who was thrilled when I told her about this plan.

Here, then, is the original recipe for anyone who may not have

3 Tablespoons butter or margarine
1 10oz package (about 40) marshmallows or 4 cups of miniature marshmallows
6 cups of Rice Krispies


1- In a large saucepan melt the butter over low heat. Add the marshmallows and stir until completely melted. Remove from heat.

2- Add the Rice Krispies and stir until well coated.

3- Using a buttered spatula or wax paper evenly press mixture into a 13X9X2 inch pan coated with cooking spray. Cool. Cut into 2 inch squares.

Microwave Directions:

In a microwave-safe bowl heat the butter and marshmallows on HIGH of r3 minutes, stirring after 2 minutes. Stir until smooth.

Follow steps 2 and 3 above.

This basic recipe can be varied almost any way you can think of. You can add peanut butter, Nutella, chocolate chips or nuts to name just a few variations.

Weekend Cooking is open to anyone who has any kind of food-related post to share: Book (novel, nonfiction) reviews, cookbook reviews, movie reviews, recipes, random thoughts, gadgets, fabulous quotations, photographs. If your post is even vaguely foodie, feel free to grab the button and link up anytime over the weekend. Please link to your specific post, not your blog's home page. For more information, see the welcome post at Beth Fish Reads


  1. That was some fun history to learn! thanks for sharing and have a great weekend!

  2. What a great post :)
    I never knew the story of rice krispie treats, and now I do -- thanks!

  3. I enjoyed reading about a treat I've enjoyed since childhood. I recall how proud I was when I made my first batch. I was young and I'm sure my mom helped, but I recall thinking I was now a grown-up cook.

  4. wow, I had no idea they go back that far. very cool!

  5. I never knew Rice Krispies Treats had such an important history. They are still one of my favorite treats to this day.

  6. Thanks for sharing this! It is always interesting to see where food comes from :)

    My weekend cooking is here:

  7. I too didn't know the history of these treats. How cool. I remember making these after school with my girlfriends.

  8. Fun history Alex, love it.

    When you get a chance, check out the history behind M&Ms (also WWII connected).

  9. Oh, what a fun post! I didn't realize the rich history of the rice krispies treat. And now I'm craving a peanut butter one!