What has prompted Merriam-Webster to adhd the longstanding word for a mostly determination sandwich to the dictionary?
Nov. 3, 2021, 5:00 a.m. ET
New England is wherever Marshmallow Fluff was created much than 100 years ago, and is inactive made and mostly consumed — often by children successful a peanut food and Marshmallow Fluff sandwich.
It is besides wherever Merriam-Webster, the oldest dictionary steadfast successful the United States, was founded and inactive operates. And past week, the institution announced that the communal sanction for the sandwich, “fluffernutter,” was among the 455 caller terms added to its pages.
New Englanders rejoiced. But wherefore admit specified a long-lived connection to the lexicon now?
Fluffernutter, defined by the dictionary arsenic “a sandwich made with peanut food and marshmallow crème betwixt 2 slices of achromatic sandwich bread,” stood retired among newer phrases similar “vaccine passport” and “dad bod.” Even I, a New Englander who packed fluffernutters successful her puerility lunchbox, had not thought overmuch astir the sandwich lately.
Marshmallow Fluff, the marque of crème typically utilized successful a fluffernutter, has been around since astatine slightest 1917, erstwhile a antheral named Archibald Query archetypal sold it doorway to doorway successful Somerville, Mass. Soon after, 2 friends named H. Allen Durkee and Fred L. Mower bought his look for $500 and archetypal marketed it arsenic Toot Sweet Marshmallow Fluff.
In the pursuing decades, Fluff’s popularity spread. Its manufacturer, the Durkee Mower Company successful Lynn, Mass., present pumps retired astir 8 cardinal pounds of the merchandise each year, according to Jonathan Mower, the Durkee Mower president and the co-founder’s grandson. (A accepted integrative tub of Fluff contains 1 pound, but Fluff is besides sold successful a 7.5-ounce solid jar.)
“I grew up eating these,” said Kathi Reinstein, a erstwhile Massachusetts legislator who had petitioned respective times, unsuccessfully, to marque fluffernutters the authoritative authorities sandwich. “There are immoderate things you tin make and they marque you deliberation of each the lukewarm and fuzzy worldly that mattered to you. And 1 of those is the fluffernutter.”
The dainty is truthful beloved that Somerville is location to an yearly What the Fluff? festival, wherever tens of thousands of radical observe each imaginable usage of the concoction, a substance of maize syrup, sugar, ovum achromatic and vanillin.
Peter Sokolowski, exertion astatine ample astatine Merriam-Webster successful Springfield, Mass., said the section enthusiasm for Fluff did not power the dictionary’s decision-making. “We are not the dictionary of New England English,” helium said.
“There is nary advocacy,” helium added, and a word’s currency is not needfully a relation of novelty. “We ticker to see, is this word’s usage increasing oregon is it falling? If the connection is increasing — adjacent incrementally, adjacent slowly, similar fluffernutter — past it belongs successful the dictionary.”
He added, “Every connection has its ain pace.”
The “evidence of archetypal use” for fluffernutter occurred successful The Daily Freeman paper successful Kingston, N.Y., connected Nov. 20, 1961, Mr. Sokolowski said. But implicit the years, the connection remained mostly spoken and seldom printed, truthful it lacked the criteria for inclusion successful the dictionary.
In 2006, a governmental kerfuffle began to alteration that. A authorities legislator successful Massachusetts, upset that his lad wanted Fluff aft eating a fluffernutter astatine school, sought to bounds however galore times a schoolhouse could service the sandwiches each week, arsenic portion of a measure to amended nutrition. (The New York Times reported astatine the clip that fluffernutters met nutritional guidelines successful the son’s schoolhouse district; Fluff has less sugars per serving — six grams per 2 tablespoons — than galore jellies.)
In response, Ms. Reinstein filed authorities to marque the fluffernutter the authorities sandwich. She recalled constituents’ yelling, “Fight for Fluff! Fight for Fluff!”
Both the senator’s and Ms. Reinstein’s efforts languished, but Mr. Sokolowski said the resulting nationalist media sum helped enactment the connection connected a trajectory to yet articulation the dictionary. Merriam-Webster chose “fluffernutter” — 1 word, lowercase — due to the fact that publications mostly styled the word this way, though the introduction offers an uppercase variant, Mr. Sokolowski said.
“It’s precise cool, there’s nary question astir it,” said Mr. Mower, whose institution makes Marshmallow Fluff. “We were retired walking the dog, and I saw a fig of neighbors and friends connected the walk. And they’re each saying, ‘Hey, we saw the quality astir the dictionary!’”
New Englanders besides look to hold connected different cardinal fluffernutter element.
Mimi Graney founded the Fluff festival and documented the past of the constituent successful her publication “Fluff: The Sticky Sweet Story of an American Icon.”
Like others interviewed, she said: “If you’re going to enactment Fluff connected a sandwich, it’s got to person the Teddie peanut butter, which is different New England brand.”
But conscionable arsenic the connection is recorded for posterity, the existent sandwich whitethorn beryllium waning successful popularity. Outside New England, it is reasonably rare, with Fluff not arsenic wide disposable westbound of the Mississippi River (though Kraft sells a akin merchandise called Jet-Puffed Marshmallow Creme). And arsenic schools nationwide determination toward nut-free policies to support children with allergies, students whitethorn beryllium much apt to tally crossed “fluffernutter” successful the dictionary than a fluffernutter successful the lunchroom.