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The Marshmallow Study

I’m having a rather significant birthday right around now. Given my advanced age, you’d expect me to behave with more maturity than I did last week when I got an advance birthday gift from my friend Valerie. I promised to save it for the actual B-day, and then I sprinted to the car and ripped off the tissue even before I’d buckled up. (It was a beautiful scarf–thanks V!)

A few days later I saw a video of a study in which children, one after the next, are seated at a table with a marshmallow placed in front of them. A lady tells them they’ll be left alone for a time, and that if they can resist eating the marshmallow, they’ll get to eat two marshmallows upon her return. In the video, you see children exercising varying levels of restraint, from squirmy resistance to instant caving.

The researchers posited that the kids who were best able to postpone gratification were more likely to be successful later in later life. But if I’d been one of the subjects, I’d have fooled all those smug, marshmallow-hugging scientists. I’d have been a model of restraint, breezing through to a double portion, but only be because I don’t like marshmallows. (If they’d put a Junior Mint on the plate I’d have been toast.)

They’d have had me pegged as the next Ruth Bader Ginsberg or Beyonce. (My husband would’ve preferred the latter.) Instead, of course, I grew up to be just another tissue-tearing marshmallow-hater.

Click here to see the video of the Marshmallow Study. (Luckily YouTube has no humiliating footage of me ripping Valerie’s wrapping.) And if you’re having a really immature moment, check out this video, which also features a marshmallow.

P.S. Whether you are a marshmallow-hater or -hugger, you will love Scotchmallows: check ’em out.


5 Responses
  1. Scot Colford says:

    I love that study. But then again, I’m a big fan of behavioral experiments on children. The Discovery Channel show The Baby Human is *awesome*.

  2. scott preece says:

    Well, maybe what the study showed was that kids who don’t like marshmallows are successful? I would have to rate you as well up on the success scale…

  3. Don Kehn, Jr. says:

    Hey, I have a 27 yr old friend who has less self-restraint than some of those kids…although I don’t always help either. I recently gave her some fancy-schmanzy birthday chocolates with those sayings inside the foil– no, not THOSE!– and that was enough of an excuse for her to scarf down half the box in a matter of minutes in front of my dumbstruck mug before I could say, “Honey, don’t you think…?” My meek suggestion swiftly and ruthlessly steam-rollered like an empty paper-cup in the middle of a busy intersection…Nor would marshmallows have stood much of a chance with her, frankly. Knowing her, she’d rather burn her mouth than chance letting one escape her gooey-fingered clutches…

    P.S.–Happy Significant B’DAY Jessica!! You Rock Big & Beautiful at any age, and no foolin’. “In YOUR Own Way” forever!


    Much like Jess I hate the taste of Marshmallow so much that I wouldn’t even eat one if I was stranded on a mountian for 72 days after a plane crash !

    That aside I should tell you that I was involved in a child experiment when I went for my Scuba test 28 years ago.

    They wanted to see if we would remain calm and resist the temptation for __AIR__?

    They put all 18 of our diving masks at the deep end of the pool and we couldn’t have access to air until we fumbled for our mask and cleared it with the air in our lungs.

    I like to think outside the box so I immediately STOLD the first mask I touched on the pile as everyone scrambled for their own and a panick ensued.

    I wonder what that experiment say’s about me ?

    I wonder if it shows that I would fit right in as a CEO at ENRON :0)….

  5. Dave says:


    Marsh mellows or not, you are ageless.

    Happy Birthday!


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