Marshmallow peanuts, which are sometimes referred to as circus peanuts, are a type of candy made in the shape of a peanut. Though they look similar to peanuts, they do not have peanuts in them and do not taste like peanuts. These candies come in a variety of different colors and flavors and are made from a chewy combination of sugar, gelatin, and cornstarch. When these candies were first invented, they were flavored with real fruit juice, usually orange juice, but now they are almost always colored and flavored artificially.
The first marshmallow peanuts were created in the middle of the 1800s in the United States and were frequently found in candy stores across the nation. They were a seasonal candy until about a century later when it became possible to preserve the candies in sealed plastic bags. When they were first made, marshmallow peanuts were often orange and flavored with real oranges. Other colors and flavors are now available, but orange-colored, banana-flavored marshmallow peanuts are the most common.
Like marshmallows, circus peanuts are usually made from a combination of sugar, gelatin, and corn starch. They are creamier than regular marshmallows, though many people prefer to leave them out for a week or so to let them get stale before eating them. They also contain artificial colors and flavors.
For the most part, people either strongly like or strongly dislike marshmallow peanuts. They do not taste the way one might expect them to taste because there is no peanut flavor in them and because their traditional orange coloration does not suggest that they are banana-flavored. The discrepancy between expectation and actual flavor may turn consumers against the flavor of marshmallow peanuts.
It is also possible to make a candy out of actual marshmallows and peanuts. In this type of candy, marshmallows are melted down and then mixed with chopped or whole peanuts. These marshmallow peanuts are similar to peanut brittle, though soft and chewy instead of brittle and crispy. The addition of corn syrup and corn starch can help make this candy firmer, giving it a texture closer to that of peanut brittle.