You may have had a fluffernutter growing up without realizing it. It’s a sandwich. A classic, actually: Peanut butter and Marshmallow Fluff between two slices of white bread, haling from the 50’s but with a history that stretches even further back. A childhood treat, some adults can’t help but crave it, and once in a while, you might come across some gourmet version of it, like fried in butter Elvis-style, or with Nutella instead of peanut butter, or additions such as bananas. And, of course, with bacon. You may have noticed that I capitalized the term Marshmallow Fluff. That is because it is actually a particular trademarked brand of marshmallow creme made by Durkee-Mower, Inc. that has been around for over 75 years.
If you visit their website, Fluffernutter is one of the first words you’ll see. It was Durkee-Moyer who popularized the sandwich in the 1960’s. Something I did not know when I began writing this is that Marshmallow Fluff also comes in strawberry and raspberry, which I can’t help but think would be awesome with peanut butter, or just off a spoon. Other brands, such as Kraft, are just called marshmallow creme, so if you had peanut butter and marshmallow creme sandwiches, but you didn’t call them fluffernutter, it is probably because Marshmallow Fluff wasn’t available in your region and the term fluffernutter was better known in New England. Many people in New England probably assume that nobody outside that area ever heard of such a sandwich, but we used to eat peanut butter and marshmallow creme sandwiches in the deep South. We just didn’t call them fluffernutters. The name might not be well-known outside of New England, but that doesn’t mean that the general idea didn’t spread!
Durkee-Moyer did not invent marshmallow creme, nor did they invent the sandwich. Marshmallow creme was actually invented in 1913 by Armory and Emma Curtis of Melrose Massachusetts, who called their product Snowflake Marshmallow Crème. It was the Curtis’s who first published a recipe for a peanut butter and marshmallow creme sandwich, which they called the Liberty Sandwhich, although Durkee-Moyer claims credit.
Then, another marshmallow creme was developed by Archibald Query, a candy-maker out of Somerville, Massachusetts, in 1917, who invented the name Marshmallow Fluff.
H. Allen Durkee and Fred L. Mower partnered up to make candy in 1920, but became discouraged by the market and sought other products for use in home kitchens. They somehow came across Archibald Query’s recipe and became interested in making and selling the product door-to-door. Query had been forced out of business by war time sugar shortages, and, after the war, he was pursuing other interests, but agreed to sell the formula and the name Marshmallow Fluff for 500 dollars (that was a lot of money, mind you). The pair tweaked the original recipe and, influenced by their time in France during the war, decided to call the product Toot Sweet Marshmallow Fluff, playing on the French term tout de suite. The name was changed back to plain old Marshmallow Fluff a short time later.
To sell their product to housewives, they suggested all sorts of uses for it. Although today the back labels of Marshmallow Fluff feature the Never-Fail Fudge Recipe, the original labels had a recipe for fudge plus a list of sandwich ideas. The first sandwich on the list was marshmallow fluff and peanut butter, but the name Fluffernutter did not come about until 1960, coined during an advertising campaign. There was also a fluff sandwich with almonds, mayonnaise, and pineapple, as well as many other suggestions.
The Massachusetts State Sandwich
In 2006, believe it or not, the Massachusetts state legislature debated a very important question, proposed by Senator Jarrett Barrios: Should the fluffernutter become the official state sandwich? Of course, nutrition zealots had to stick their nose in and say that the fluffernutter was part of what made our children overweight, ignoring the history of the sandwich. The fluffernutter did not become the state sandwich, but the state did declare October 8 to be National Fluffernutter Day.