The influence of New England’s sugar-loaded marshmallow concoction, otherwise known as Fluff, continues to spread in large part because of the work done by Mimi Graney.
Her creation of Somerville’s What the Fluff? festival 11 years ago, her brand new volume on the stuff, and six upcoming Fluff-themed book events are keeping the condiment relevant as ever.
Thursday, March 2, a Fluff soiree celebrates the release of Graney’s book, “Fluff: The Sticky Sweet Story of an American Icon,” at the Somerville Brewing Company — complete with Fluff snacks galore. For Fluff fans who can’t attend — or haven’t gotten their Fluff fix — five other local Fluff shindigs this month honor the sticky spread, which turns 100 this year.
Graney’s Fluff infatuation really began in 2006 with her first What the Fluff? festival in Union Square, part of an effort to revitalize the area by digging into its history. Fluff, which has been manufactured in Lynn by Durkee-Mower since the 1950s, was born in Somerville with inventor Archibald Query knocking on doors trying to sell marshmallowy stuff.
The first festival drew about 800 people; now crowds of 10,000 turn up to play Fluff games and eat everything from Fluff pizza to Fluff poutine.
The festival’s success turned Graney into the “de facto Fluff historian,” and she was approached to write a book commemorating its history.
“Not a lot of things that are this small and this quirky have lasted so long,” Graney said. “Marshmallow Fluff is like Forrest Gump. It’s everywhere throughout history — from the Great Molasses Flood to the development of grocery stores to the increase of advertising. It’s changed the way Americans eat and how neighborhoods are designed.”
The history of the New England classic is held in six family scrapbooks at the Durkee-Mower factory, and Graney worked hard to understand the product’s gooey story.
Today, just as Scots have haggis and Koreans have kimchi, New Englanders have Fluff. Half of all marshmallow cream sold around the world is bought in New England. For Graney, a heaping scoop on top of hot chocolate reminds her of times she’d come home on a cold day and her mom would serve up the simple treat.
“New Englanders have a love for this flavor that other people don’t just get. We can appreciate it, it has a sense of home to it,” Graney said. “It’s a comfort food.”