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Why is s'mores such a hot flavor right now?

By Michelle Stark
The Campfire Story at Story Brooke Craft Coffee Bar: chocolate bitters, sweetened condensed milk, vanilla bean syrup, espresso and marshmallow in a smoke glass. (Photo by SCOTT KEELER | Times)

Do you smell that? A scent engineered to whoosh us back to the crisp air and crackling leaves of our childhoods? Preferably one around a campfire, wooden stick in hand and smoke filling the air?

No, it's not pumpkin spice. There's another ubiquitous flavor seeping into our coffees, our teas, our desserts — even our English muffins.

It's s'mores, that oddly contraction-ed word that actually refers to an entire sandwich of flavors yet has increasingly become distilled into one roasty, toasty profile.

In other parts of the country, s'mores might be a later summertime focus. Here in Florida, we are squarely in prime s'mores season.

Short for "some more" (yes, really), s'mores usually go like this: Stick large marshmallow with a skewer, hold out over fire until melty, slither marshmallow off skewer and slide onto a graham cracker layered with a square of chocolate, quickly top with second graham cracker, make a huge mess.

The nostalgic flavor is having a moment.

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This time last year, the Girl Scouts added new cookies in celebration of the organization's 100th anniversary: two s'mores flavors, one a crispy graham cookie dipped in icing and coated with chocolate, the other a graham sandwich cookie with a chocolate and marshmallow filling. (The Girl Scouts are actually responsible for the chocolate-marshmallow-graham cracker sandwich, first publishing a recipe for s'mores as "Some More" in a 1925 issue of Girl Scout Leader magazine.)

A couple of months ago, Dunkin' Donuts released a s'mores-flavored coffee: a "combination of graham cracker, toasted marshmallow and chocolate flavors" and "available hot and iced coffees, lattes, macchiatos and Frozen Dunkin' Coffee." S'mores-flavored doughnuts are available at any self-respecting artisanal doughnut shop these days; the flavor pops up often on dessert menus around town.

Abigail St. Clair, who owns Tampa Bay company TeBella, debuted a Campfire S'mores Tea last year and recently released a Fireside Fog beverage for the season, which blends that tea with marshmallows and cacao nibs, plus milk, chocolate and graham cracker. Lapsing tea gives the drink a smokey flavor. Erin Dickerson, a manager at the TeBella in St. Petersburg's Station House, said they were looking to introduce a seasonal flavor that wasn't pumpkin spice.

"I just love s'mores," said St. Clair, who added that she has noticed a local uptick in s'mores-flavor products, especially desserts.

Nathan Clark of Wondermade in Sanford, a shop that specializes in handcrafted marshmallows, also has strong s'mores feelings.

"We love a good s'mores," Clark said. "You can't be passionate about marshmallows and not care about s'mores."

For his birthday, which happens to fall on National S'mores Day (Aug. 10), the Clarks threw a block party that involved folks in downtown Sanford getting together to set a record for the most people making a s'mores at one time: 1,316. (Yes, they have filed paperwork with Guinness World Records.)

There's some more. Wondermade has invented something called the s'moresicle, half a frozen pudding pop and half a marshmallow that gets bruleed to create a toasty effect.

"If you want to see a kid have a Christmas morning-like experience any day of the week, order him one of these."

When Story Stuart opened her Story Brooke Craft Coffee Bar in St. Petersburg earlier this year, one of her first signature drinks was the Campfire Story, a latte made with espresso, sweetened condensed milk, vanilla syrup and chocolate bitters in a smoke-infused glass.

Her reasoning is similar to why Clark loves selling marshmallows at Wondermade: The flavor evokes a particular feeling.

"I chose s'mores as my inspiration because they're whimsical," Stuart said. "As an adult, you may not get to actually roast marshmallows outside on a regular day, but the flavor is nostalgic."

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