The classic Marshmallow Dreidel, with my mini version for older kids.
Bump up the educatainment value with a food-safe marker and a printable guide to writing the 4 Hebrew letters (name of letter, what it stands for in Hebrew and English). Bump it up even more and make an Israeli dreidel for contrast: in Israel they use a Pey instead of a Shin. See below.)
Don’t you dare make these yourself and hand them out to kids. The whole point of edible Jewish crafts is that the kids do the making. You can be there, preferably, since another whole point of edible Jewish crafts is spending time together making Jewish things.
Below is a list of materials, a brief how-to, and a short description about the Why of marshmallow dreidels.
Here’s what you need. Trust me.
Marshmallows. My favorite kosher brand is Paskesz because they stay fluffy. Elyon are good, too. If you are unconcerned about kosherness, go for treyf (nonkosher): they are exquisitely plump and firm and sport that super-fine marshmallow dust kosher brands have yet to perfect.
Snyder’s Pretzel Sticks. Not Rods or Dippers or any other shape: only “Sticks.” They are kosher (OU) and just the right size for dreidel handles, even for mini dreidels.
Frosting. Color it blue for maximum festiveness. Mix in some edible silver glitter dust, too. Edible glitter dust is simply unforgettable. (Wilton’s makes it.)
In a hurry? Buy a tube of blue frosting (NOT gel. Gel is too wet and translucent and it will end up turning everyone’s fingers, teeth, tongues, clothes and the kitchen table blue. Ask me how I know this.)
Kisses and / or Chocolate Chips. Hershey Kisses for the regular size dreidels, chips for the minis.
Food-safe marker (or food coloring with tiny brush). Do not call the food-safe marker an “edible pen” or I guarantee a kid will try to eat the pen. Or at least suck on it. It happens. The word “edible” makes kids go nuts.
Using diluted food dye with a tiny watercolor brush is fine if you can deal with this sort of thing. Using a toothpick with undiluted food dye is asking for trouble. But using a food-safe marker is fabulously fun. It feels so deliciously wrong to WRITE on food with a pen and then eat it. Kids will not forget the experience. And isn’t this part of that “whole point” I keep mentioning?
Break off a piece of pretzel stick for handle and jab it into one end of marshmallow. Dab a bit of frosting “glue” onto the other end of the marshmallow. Apply flat side of kiss/chip to frosting.
Write a Nun, Gimmel, Hey and Shin around marshmallow.
HEBREW LETTERS on a dreidel stand for Nes Gadol Haya Sham (a Great Miracle Happened There), the miracle being that the wee jar of oil lasted 8 days and nights.
נ Letter: Nun. Stands for Nes (miracle)
ג Letter: Gimmel. Stands for Gadol (great)
ה Letter: Hey. Stands for Haya (happened)
ש Letter: Shin. Stands for Sham (there)
An Iraeli dreidel proclaims that the great miracle happened here, not there. Here in Hebrew is Po, spelled with the letter Pey: פ
The letters go in order from right to left on a dreidel. Which means, if you want to be strictly correct, a gimmel will never be next to a shin, and a nun will never be next to a hey. You’d be surprised how many picture books show dreidels with letters out of order.
Print out Dreidel Letter cheat sheet to show kids how to make the letters. It has the name of the letters, what they stand for and how to play the game.
The WHY of Marshmallow Dreidels
My own introduction to the value of instant edible Jewish crafting was a marshmallow dreidel.
I saw it in 2001, during my first week teaching Kitah Aleph (First Grade) at a Conservative synagogue religious school. What a cute idea, I thought, so simple: a pretzel stick handle at one end of a marshmallow, a dab of frosting and a chocolate kiss at the other. And then my colleague pulled out the blue food coloring and showed the kids how to paint marshmallows with the four traditional Hebrew letters.
Suddenly, what was cute and simple became ingenious. The questions erupted around the room: What are the letters? What do they stand for? How do I shape them? Does the nun or the gimmel have the extra leg? What’s the “great miracle” and where is “there”? Can all four letters fit? Will this spin? Why do we spin dreidels anyway? Can I eat this now? What’s the bracha for an edible dreidel? Can we make more?
Okay, I admit the bracha question was asked by an adult, but still, it was asked.* Instant edible crafts make busy hands and brains. What may have looked like goof-off party time was actually solid, Jewish content.
By the way, these kids are high school juniors now, and they still remember painting marshmallow dreidels in Kitah Aleph. One of them, my own kid, requested to make them at her Hanukkah party last year.
Edible dreidels won’t be outgrown. (Even without food-safe markers and edible glitter dust.)
*the bracha (blessing) for marshmallow dreidels is Shehakol. Can’t be Mezonot because the wheat pretzel doesn’t constitute enough of the total composition, right? I’m winging it here, folks, so if there are any bracha mavens reading this, let me know if I’m wrong. By the way, having this discussion in a classroom is a teachable moment in itself.
The Guide to Blessings from OU.org is here.
- Here’s a groovy review of food-safe markers from Evil Mad Scientist Laboratories. They use such things for uber-nerdy “circuitry snacks,” to which I bow in humbled awe.
Other edible dreidel posts on the Internet. Please add yours in a comment.
- Naturally Educational uses Nutella as glue and paints the letters in milk-diluted food coloring, here.
- Savvima has fancy chocolate-dipped versions and rolled-in-non-pareils versions, here.
- Cooking With My Kid dips the marshmallows in peanut butter and then rolls in chocolate sprinkles, here.
Marshmallows: If you want to hear more about kosher marshmallows, see my Passover post, here.