Appears in
Oxford Companion to Sugar and Sweets

By Darra Goldstein

Published 2015

  • About

Legends claim that the airy mixture of meringue was named after the Swiss village of Meiringen, or even after the French Merovingian kings, but these etymologies are false, and uncertainty surrounds the origins of meringue and its name. We do know that meringue developed from the egg-white mixtures whisked with bundles of cleaned twigs that appeared in European cookery texts in the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries, generally with the addition of cream of tartar. See whisks and beaters. When sugar began to replace cream of tartar in the seventeenth century, the mixture became even lighter and was referred to as “sugar puff.” By the eighteenth century recipes close to those known today for modern meringue were already well known.