As the Byrds sang, to everything (turn, turn, turn) there is a season (turn, turn, turn)… and right now it’s Mallomar season. For the uninitiated, the Mallomar is a cookie produced by Nabisco, a soft graham base with a pouf of marshmallow on top that’s coated with a dark chocolate shell. Since its introduction to the market 100 years ago, it has only been available roughly from September through March, ostensibly because the chocolate coating is too delicate to survive distribution during the spring and summer months. The first box of Mallomars was sold in Hoboken, New Jersey, and the Mallomar is still “a New York thing”, with 87% of sales in the New York metro area — which is where Bryan and I first got into Mallomar season. Several years living in Brooklyn will rub off on a person, one way or another.
The Mallomar is part of a 200-year-old cross-cultural trend of chocolate-coated marshmallow treats. There are a number of similar cookies available on U.S. supermarket shelves, such as Pinwheels, and Canadian Whippets. The Moon Pie is a southern cousin, with marshmallow sandwiched between two graham biscuits and enrobed in a chocolate shell, which is not so easy to find north of the Mason-Dixon line outside of Cracker Barrel. Back when Bryan and I were roommates in a shared apartment known among our friends and acquaintances as Fandom House, a northern doppelgänger of the Moon Pie known as the Scooter Pie was a staple in our pantry, but they’re now scarce, though I see you can still get them through the Old-Time Candy web site.
The Mallomar is special, though, because of its limited availability. When it shows up in the supermarket, we’ll have one, or maybe two, boxes of them all season. What we do, like we did last Thursday evening, is just have a little pig-out, the two of us eating a box of them after dinner. (For those of you keeping score, that’s nine cookies apiece, for a grand total of 540 calories for each of us — about the same as a half-pint of ice cream.) Since we only do this once or twice a year, we’re not too fussed about it. Sometimes it’s good to have a treat.
Some people buy Mallomars in bulk while they’re in season and freeze them to enjoy in the spring and summer. Some people just like to eat them frozen. We don’t freeze ours, but I’m trying to settle on a favorite way of eating them. Sometimes I eat them marshmallow-first, biting off the fluffy top and then eating the chocolate-coated graham disk. Sometimes I just like to nibble my way through a cookie, getting marshmallow, graham and chocolate in every bite.
The Mallomar isn’t a food to be eaten mindlessly. You have to be there with it, you think about it, you enjoy it while it lasts.