Lunch­box sta­ple Fluff turns 100


Fluff turns 100 this year, and the marsh­mal­low con­coc­tion that has been smeared on a cen­tury’s worth of school­child­ren’s sand­wiches has in­spired a fes­ti­val and other sticky re­mem­brances.

Ev­ery year, be­tween 5 mil­lion and 7 mil­lion pounds of the sticky cream in­vented in sub­ur­ban Bos­ton in 1917 is pro­duced and sold world­wide, al­though half the sup­ply is bought up by New Eng­lan­ders and peo­ple in up­state New York.

It came of age in the 1960s, when gen­er­a­tions of school­child­ren started clam­our­ing for “Fluffer­nut­ter” sand­wiches still made by slather­ing peanut but­ter and Fluff be­tween two slices of white bread.

Over the past decade, fans of Fluff have been stag­ing an an­nual “What the Fluff?” fes­ti­val in Somerville, Mas­sachusetts, where the Amer­i­can lunch­box icon was born. A fluffy look at its his­tory: A RECIPE CHANGES HANDS In 1917, Mon­treal-born con­fec­tioner Archibald Query crafted the orig­i­nal recipe in his Somerville home.

Query is said to have whipped up the first batches in his own kitchen be­fore sell­ing it door to door.

Fol­low­ing World War I there was a sugar short­age in the U.S., so Query sold the recipe for $500 to two war veter­ans, H. Allen Dur­kee and Fred L. Mower. The recipe has stayed with Dur­kee Mower Inc. ever since. It’s the only prod­uct the fam­ily-owned com­pany makes. FLUFF’S STILL THE

SAME STUFF In 1920, Dur­kee and Mower be­gan pro­duc­ing and sell­ing Fluff, which they first named Toot Sweet Marsh­mal­low Fluff. The com­pany moved to a fac­tory in East Lynn, Mas­sachusetts, in 1929.

The orig­i­nal recipe hasn’t changed: corn syrup, sugar syrup, dried egg whites and vanillin. And the jar’s pack­ag­ing is only slightly dif­fer­ent, ac­cord­ing to Mimi Graney, au­thor of a forth­com­ing book, “Fluff: The Sticky Sweet Story of an Amer­i­can Icon.”

Fluff lovers “as­so­ciate it with their own child­hood and im­age of home,” Graney says. There are com­pet­ing prod­ucts sold by Kraft, Solo Foods and oth­ers.

WHAT THE FLUFF? The 12th an­nual “What the Fluff?” Fes­ti­val will be staged this Septem­ber. It was started as a way to re­ju­ve­nate Somerville’s now-trendy Union Square neigh­bour­hood. The fes­ti­val draws about 10,000 peo­ple who gather for ac­tiv­i­ties in­clud­ing cook­ing and eat­ing con­tests, Fluff joust­ing, Fluff blow­ing, a game called Blind Man Fluff, and con­certs.

Somerville res­i­dents tend to have a soft spot for Fluff. “It to­tally takes me back to my child­hood,” says Amy Hensen, a 43-year-old Somervil­lian.

Mayor Joseph Cur­ta­tone likens the prod­uct to his com­mu­nity’s eclec­tic vibe. “It’s orig­i­nal, creative, and a lit­tle bit funky but that’s why we love it,” he says.

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In this Sept. 27, 2013, photo, a jar of Marsh­mal­low Fluff and a Fluffer­nut­ter sand­wich are dis­played in North An­dover, Mass.

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