Can I share the (marshmallow) love?
January 3, 2012 12:37 PM   Subscribe

I have perfected homemade marshmallows and they are delicious! They are so delicious that I want to send some from San Francisco to a friend in England. The only trouble is that the marshmallows have a coating of white powder (confectioners' sugar and a little cornflour) to ensure they don't stick together and create one big mess. Am I asking for trouble by sending this stuff via USPS internationally?

I am concerned that the white powder will be mistaken at customs for other illegal and/or lethal kinds of white powder. The marshmallows are great but I'm not confident they are worth trouble with USPS, customs or the police.

Would it be mad of me to pop them in the mail? Or is this not a big deal?
posted by RosiePosie to Travel & Transportation (8 answers total) 5 users marked this as a favorite
You should be fine. They don't open packages unless they suspect something - and a sniffer dog/machine isn't going to think that the sugar is cocaine or anthrax or anything. Worst case scenario you are out delicious marshmallows and shipping costs - but I suspect you won't have any problems!
posted by alaijmw at 12:40 PM on January 3, 2012

Worst case scenario, the marshmallows are destroyed by customs and you're out the cost of some eggs, gelatin, and sugar, plus postage.

No one is going to give you any headaches over this. It's not like Midnight Express; you're sending marshmallows, covered in powdered sugar, from the US to the UK.
posted by Admiral Haddock at 12:44 PM on January 3, 2012 [2 favorites]

It's really important that we validate the deliciousness before you waste all that money on postage. Recipe please!
posted by SNACKeR at 12:44 PM on January 3, 2012 [11 favorites]

Seal it well so it isn't leaking sugar all over the place (and so they don't dry out), and it will be fine.
posted by aubilenon at 12:44 PM on January 3, 2012

As far as the UK specifically, everything entering is subject to a
check for prohibited or restricted goods
. Unfortunately, meat, dairy products, and other animal products are on that list, but the detailed list link on that page is a dead end. But, like Admiral Haddock said, you're not shipping an irreplaceable sentimental souvenir. I, for one, would be overjoyed to actually receive marshmallows, and still be touched that you tried and were foiled by customs.
posted by fragmede at 2:47 PM on January 3, 2012

Customs doesn't do a visual inspection. They will be scanning your package with X-rays and sniffer dogs and who knows what all chemical detection. There is zero risk that they will mistake the white powder in your package for cocaine.

I suppose there is a marginal chance that they may mistake the marshmallows themselves for a gel explosive.

However, they will quickly determine that it is a foodstuff. This means that you're in the clear as far as explosives and drugs go. But it means that it's prohibited or restricted, as fragmede points out. You will also have to lie to the USPS person when you take your package to the counter. (To the question "Anything liquid, flammable, or perishable?" You will have to answer "No.")

Assuming that you get it through customs - which you very well may - I would be worried that they would have either gone stale or gone melty/gooey/globby during transport. It can take several weeks to ship things to England. Longer, if your package ends up dawdling at Customs.

It's worth giving it a try on a whim. The risks are low.
posted by ErikaB at 6:01 PM on January 3, 2012 [1 favorite]

if I send you the money for the postage, will you send me some? Seriously. I've never had a home made marshmallo.
posted by hollyanderbody at 6:17 PM on January 3, 2012

Response by poster: Thanks guys! I'm going to pop some in the mail tomorrow and hope for the best.

The recipe I (sort of) use is here.

I've found that if I can't be bothered asking some nice, tall person to get the glucose syrup down from the top shelf of the supermarket, then I can swap the glucose syrup for more sugar. I increase the sugar to 2 cups. Actually, the whole recipe stands up well to a little playing around. I've tried making lots of different flavours (cardamom! Oh my!) but I usually do a smaller batch first if I'm suspicious of it working out (ginger was unexpectedly gross).

I love marshmallows because they are one of those wonderful things where the amount of effort that goes in is minimal compared to the ZOMG effect of the product. Mmmm, marshmallows!
posted by RosiePosie at 9:02 PM on January 3, 2012 [4 favorites]

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