Back in the 1930s (the timeline is a little vague), two women reportedly created snack food history. While working for the Kellogg Company, Mildred Day and Malitta Jensen needed to create with a recipe that kids in the Campfire Girls could make for troop fundraisers.
They eventually came up with something they called “marshmallow treats” or variations of “crispy marshmallow squares” — or what we know today as Rice Krispies Treats. By the end of 1940, the recipe was so popular that it was printed right on Rice Krispies cereal boxes, and quickly became known as a quick and easy go-to dessert all across the country.
Even though the recipe seems simple today — a gooey mix of Rice Krispies cereal, marshmallows, butter (and optional vanilla) — Mrs Day’s obituary noted that she worked for days on end to develop the dessert. The 1996 story also said that when Mrs Day’s daughter Sandra asked her mom why she never whipped up a batch of the popcorn-ball-inspired treats at home, her mother said simply, “If you’d made them for two weeks from 6:30 in the morning until 10:30 at night, you wouldn’t want to make them again, either.”
The original Rice Krispies Treats recipe – Early version
One of the earliest published versions of the Rice Krispies Treat recipe, published in The Akron Beacon Journal (Akron, Ohio) on December 2, 1940:
Have you made the marshmallow squares using rice crispies? They are on the box of one company. They may be called either candy or cookies, as you desire.
Crispie marshmallow squares
Melt 1/3 cup butter and 1/2 pound of marshmallows in a double boiler. Add 1/2 teaspoonful vanilla, beat thoroughly to blend. Put a box of rice crispies in a large buttered bowl, pour on marshmallow mixture, stirring briskly. Press into shallow, buttered pan. Cut into squares when cool. Two ounces of melted unsweetened chocolate or 4 ounces of melted bittersweet chocolate may be added to the marshmallow mixture just before pouring over the rice crispies.
Rice Krispies Treats recipe: Today’s version
3 tablespoons butter (do not use tub spread or reduced-fat margarine)
1 package (10 ounces, or about 40) marshmallows OR 4 cups miniature marshmallows
6 cups Kellogg’s Rice Krispies cereal
1. In a large saucepan, melt butter over low heat. Add fresh marshmallows, and stir until completely melted. Remove from heat.
2. Add Rice Krispies. Stir until well-coated.
3. Using a buttered spatula or waxed paper or parchment paper, evenly press the mixture into 13x9x2-inch pan that has been buttered or coated with cooking spray.
4. Cool. Cut into 2-inch squares.
In a microwave-safe bowl, heat butter and marshmallows on high for 2 minutes, stir, then heat for 1 more minute. Stir until smooth. Follow steps 2 through 4 shown above. (Note: Microwave cooking times may vary.)
Fun Rice Krispies treats recipes for holidays & special occasions!
Take a look back at the crunchy history of the original Rice Krispies Treats recipe
Quick treat — so delicious! (1948)
Easy to make! Easy to take! Try these Rice Krispies Marshmallow Squares — a yummy treat or dessert! And downright good with light, crunchy Rice Krispies. As cereal or sweet, these golden pops of rice offer quickly-digested fuel-food — food for oomph ‘n’ energy!
Howdy Doody: “You’ll all go for marshmallow crispy squares” (1953)
“We’re sure wild about this homemade candy treat!” – Wild Bill & Jingles (Andy Devine & Guy Madison), who co-star in Kellogg’s Wild Bill Hickock radio and TV shows
Marshmallow Crispy Treats (1955)
Make ’em in six minutes with Kellogg’s RICE KRISPIES and MARSHMALLOWS
Serve up some Marshmallow Crispy Treats and little hands will clean the plate quicker’n you can fill it. And that’s fast. Because you can heap a platter in the time it takes to count leisurely to 360. What do you need? Kellogg’s Rice Krispies, butter, marshmallows and six minutes’ time.
Bet you know some little kiddies who’d love to be sweetened right now. So why not make for the kitchen and make ready some of these crispy candy treats?
Woody Woodpecker with a Marshmallow Crispy Treats recipe (1958)
It really pays to try this recipe! It’s quick and easy. And we’re so sure you’ll want to whip it up often for the family — we’ll give you a quarter just to try it.
Dennis the Menace with a 6-minute Marshmallow Crispy Treats recipe (1960)
“Golly, these are good!”
Marshmallow treats recipe (1969)
Marshmallow treats (1970)
Snap! Crackle! or Pop! will send you a quarter just for making Marshmallow Treats. They’re fun to make ’cause they’re so easy.
All you need is 3 ingredients (1/4 cup regular margarine or butter, 6-10 ounces [about 40] regular marshmallows, or 4 cups miniature marshmallows, and 5 cups Kellogg’s Rice Krispies cereal) to follow these 3 easy steps:
1. Melt margarine in 3-quart saucepan. Add marshmallows and cook over low heat. stirring constantly. until marshmallows are melted and mixture is very syrupy. Remove from heat.
2. Add Rice Krispies cereal and stir until well-coated.
3. Press warm mixture evenly and firmly into buttered 13 x 9 x 2-inch pan. Cut into squares when cool.
Yield: 24 squares. 2 x 2 inches
Note: About 2 cups marshmallow creme may be substituted for marshmallows. Add to melted margarine and cook over low heat about 5 minutes, stirring constantly. Proceed as directed in step number 2 above.