I was in this fancy schmancy coffee shop the other night and you could buy s’mores ingredients and make them over a little fire there at your table. At a table by the window were two young women, sitting on a couch, roasting marshmallows over a little burner. As part of the menu, they had a 4-step guide, “how to make s’mores.” Their menu was cute, but I as I saw it, they had a lot of things wrong about the process. So in the interests of setting the record absolutely straight, I give you…

The Field Camp Official Version of How to Make S’mores (in 6 easy steps!)

1. Ingredients. You’ll need three things: Marshmallows, graham crackers, and chocolate. Any bag of marshmallows is fine, as long as they’re the big ones, not those little ones. And any box of graham crackers will do as long as they’re plain, with no cinnamon coating or anything like that. The chocolate must be Hershey’s bars, the regular ones you find in the grocery store checkout line. Not those big King Size bars nor those little ones that cheap people hand out at Halloween. Spare no expense getting the right chocolate bars. You can get these in the candy aisle in 6-packs.

2. Start the fire. Unless you’re an Eagle Scout or Tom Hanks, you’ll need newspaper, sticks, bigger sticks, and matches. Start with crumpled up newspaper under small sticks, then add bigger sticks. Make sure they’re dead and dry.

3. Roasting sticks. Find a long, dead stick for roasting. But don’t use a live one–no need to destroy or damage a tree. A stick with a forked end is always good for roasting several marshmallows at once.

4. Distribution. One person should be in charge of distributing marshmallows, another in charge of distributing graham crackers and chocolate. All those who have sticks should form a line in front of the marshmallow person, and, taking care not to inflict bodily harm on the distributor with your stick, say, “may I have a marshmallow please? Thank you.”

5. Roasting. It seems just about everyone has their own opinions on roasting marshmallows. Some like them fiery and well done, others like to warm theirs to a creamy brown. My only pointer here is that you must be careful with your marshmallow if it is in flames. It is best to calmly and carefully blow out the flaming mallow rather than wave it about, shouting (a la Tom Hanks), “I Have Made Fire!” After all, dealing with your older brother after your parents douse the fire you started in his hair is always trouble.

6. Combining. This is important. Teamwork is key. The roaster should go to the distributor of graham crackers and chocolate and politely ask for help. The appointed distributor should have in her lower hand half a graham cracker with two or three chocolate squares (1/6th OR 1/4 of a Hershey’s bar) sitting on top and the other half of the graham cracker in her right hand, above her left. The roaster should extend the marshmallow-tipped stick towards the distributor, who clamps down on the marshmallow to make a sandwich. The roaster then pulls the stick out from between the two crackers. Again, it is important to be careful when approaching the distributor with the stick so as not to accidentally leave a sticky mess of marshmallow on her hair or clothing. After successfully creating the s’more sandwich, the roaster should take the s’more from the distributor, thank her profusely, then, enjoy. Also, be sure to always offer to make your next one for the distributor, “want me to make you one?”

We have, by the way, never found napkins necessary. Having your hands and face sticky from s’mores is, after all, half the fun. But remember, only you can make yourself messy. Don’t mess with others.

Of course, when it comes to eating s’mores, you can do what you want. My niece Madison visited us when she was 6 years old and we camped out one night in the yard. We put up a tent, built a fire, made our dinner, the whole thing. Then later, we pulled out all the s’mores stuff and as she eyed the goodies, I explained how you make the concoctions. So we procured her a stick and she began to roast a marshmallow. For several minutes, she worked on it, not getting it too close to the flame, and, with my constant coaching, she lovingly worked it to the perfect softness. I was so proud. Then she handed me the stick, and asked, “can I just eat the chocolate?”

“Of course you can.”