January 1, 2004 -- Vegparadise News Bureau
vegan supreme marshmallows was the first of the two to enter the market and began offering its product for sale in August 2003.
Ming Tran heads the vegan supreme team and is assisted by Jeremy Klein and Karen Morris. Jeremy designs the packaging and the company website. Karen is Ming's lifelong friend. "When Karen heard that I was on a mission to produce vegan marshmallows, she hopped along for the ride and hasn't turned back," says Ming.
Their marshmallows came to fruition after 2 1/2 years of experimentation. "Every time we make marshmallows it's a challenge," says Ming "Even though the recipe is the same, the marshmallows come out slightly different every time. It's difficult, but the challenge is fun for us."
Stores Stock Marshmallows
Packaged in 10-ounce bags, the square marshmallows contain the following ingredients: sugar (non bone char refined), corn syrup, vegan (plant-based) gelatin, water, pure vanilla, sea salt, and "lots of TLC!" Prices vary.
In addition to the marshmallows, the group also produces Krispy Rice Treats and Peanut Butter Krispy Rice in 2.5-ounce bars.
Ming, who holds a B.S. in Business Administration and Finance and has completed the Personal Financial Planner Certification Program at University of California at Irvine, is a financial analyst and a part-time Tae Kwon Do instructor.
Describing herself as a "professional marshmallow maker," Ming told VIP, "This is not my full time job, but at the rate things are going, it may become my full time job very soon. Maybe tomorrow?"
Ming's Path to Vegetarianism
"I believe that you can be non-vegetarian/vegan and maintain a healthy diet, but I strive to be vegan now just because I feel animal cruelty should be avoided. I am far from perfect though, and I don't judge others for not being vegetarian or vegan."
Ming is quite pleased with the positive response to the marshmallows. "Vegan kids are happy now that they are making s'mores with friends on camping trips. It's awesome!" says Ming.
Pangea Researches Marshmallows
"We quickly learned that the machinery required to professionally produce marshmallows with the classic dry airy texture we are accustomed to in store-bought marshmallows is exorbitantly expensive," says Pangea co-founder Shari Kalina.
Shari told VIP that this marshmallow production equipment is available in the United States, but small scale production is not feasible for a large company because they would have to thoroughly clean their equipment after their regular runs to insure that there was no cross contamination. Needless to say, the companies were not interested.
"We were not satisfied with the idea of simply producing a 'homemade' type product in a bakery type kitchen." Shari added. "It was important to us to offer vegans an alternative that was as close a match as possible to 'real' gelatin-based marshmallows."
During the next few years Shari and co-founder Phil Murray conducted their search for production facilities that led them outside the U.S. to England, Spain, Israel, and Mexico, but in all of these instances they encountered problems. One major problem was the recipe's vegetable-based gelling ingredients that made the finished product less stable than those containing animal gelatin.
Manufacturing Begins in Costa Rica
Comparing VeganSweets Marshmallows to other brands, Shari feels hers are superior because they are professionally produced in a cylindrical shape and have "the authentic texture and shape of a store-bought marshmallow." It is not a homemade "slab marshmallow" that is made in a baking pan and cut into squares when dry.
The reformulation occurred because of a desire to change the flavor and create an all-natural product. Originally the marshmallow was flavored with vanillin, an artificial ingredient used in commercial marshmallows. Instead the company decided to switch to pure natural vanilla, a switch that necessitated a search for a particular vanilla bean and a decision on the appropriate amount of flavoring.
The VeganSweets Marshmallows, sold in 12-ounce packages that retail for $3.99, list the following ingredients: non-bone char processed sugar, corn syrup, agar agar, carageenan, soy protein, pure vanilla, and corn starch.
Public Responds with Approval
Shari reports that people can expect to find the marshmallows in their local health food store this month.
Other VeganSweets products include vegan donuts and cinnamon rolls, dairy-free Belgian chocolates, vegan baking mixes, vegan chocolate candies, and vegan white chocolate products.
In addition to VeganSweets, Pangea markets other cruelty-free products such as No Bull footwear and accessories and VeganLife vitamins. All of their products are 100% vegan and created with fair labor standards. The marshmallows and other Pangea products can be obtained from http://www.veganstore.com