I don’t particularly care for s’mores-flavored things, but in their pure form, s’mores are delicious. A toasted marshmallow on top of a square of Hershey’s chocolate smooshed between two graham crackers is always satisfying, despite any unpleasant stickiness. As I write this, I’m realizing I haven’t had a proper s’more as an adult, likely due to my aversion to camping. But outdoorsy types are still chomping down on the classic campfire treat with abandon, according to data compiled by Instacart. And it turns out that the popularity of s’mores is surprisingly regional.
This summer, during the period from Memorial Day to Independence Day, purchases of s’mores ingredients via Instacart were up 7.5% over the same period last summer. One potential reason for this is that in 2023, more Americans have returned to pre-COVID levels of group activity. But when you take a look at Instacart’s map of ingredient sales, s’mores elements are actually pretty concentrated in a few key states.
The states with the most sales of chocolate, marshmallows, and graham crackers via Instacart are all located in the northern United States, heavily concentrated in the Midwest. In fact, the five states with the highest amount of s’more sales are all right next to each other:
- Iowa (0.88%)
- South Dakota (0.85%)
- North Dakota (0.76%)
- Wisconsin (0.71%)
- Minnesota (0.67%)
This makes sense, when you think about it. For one thing, Iowa understands a thing or two about great desserts. Obviously, the Southern states have much warmer summers, rendering s’mores-making a less desirable activity overall. Could you imagine sitting around a campfire in Arizona, given the recent temperatures there? You might as well unwrap a Hershey’s in a sweat lodge.
There are other possible reasons for the disparity, though they are admittedly only guesses: The Midwestern states, with their all-too-brief summers and ample flat land for campfire-building, were bound to have more occasion for s’mores. Meanwhile, I imagine the western states’ preference for vegan ingredients means s’mores are less top of mind, and heck, it’s probably too rainy in the Pacific Northwest to sustain a campfire anyway. (Or too dry out in California—the West Coast is often under restrictions during drought conditions.)
Of course, while a campfire may technically be the “correct” way to toast a marshmallow, it is certainly not the only way. You can make S’mores Dip in the oven, or do what I did as a kid: make s’mores in the microwave. Controversial, I know. The technique is technically sound, but the marshmallow doesn’t get that toasted, crispy exterior that it does when you roast it. However, it does balloon in size in the microwave until it looks like it’s going to burst, which is pretty fun.
Instacart found that microwaving marshmallows for s’mores remains divisive: 51% of people they surveyed were cool with nuking them, while the other 49% essentially said “hell no.” Luckily, there’s a middle ground: The best way to roast a marshmallow, in my opinion, is over the kitchen stove, which is simply more efficient and attainable than building a whole campfire (assuming you have gas appliances). You can even buy marshmallow roasting sticks like this so that you don’t accidentally singe our fingertips. For real enthusiasts, there are even standalone electric s’mores makers available—which should, perhaps, be marketed to the state of Florida, where only 0.10% of Instacart shoppers appear to be interested in the classic campfire treat.