Jul 28, 2023 - Things to Do

Arizona History: Why tubers throw marshmallows in the Salt River and why they must stop

Tubers float by wild horses in the Salt River in 2020. Photo: Christian Petersen/Getty Images

Salt River Tubing is banning marshmallows on its buses, ending a decades-long tradition, in an attempt to stop pollution.

  • If you're wondering, "Why on Earth are people bringing marshmallows on their drunken tubing voyages," well, allow us to catch you up on the great Salt River marshmallow war, which dates back at least two decades.

Flashback: Nobody seems to know how it began, but since at least 2000, anyone who's been invited on a tubing trip has received three important directives: Bring sunscreen. Bring beer. Bring marshmallows — the bigger, the better.

  • Marshmallows get very sticky when wet, making them the perfect ammunition to lob at other tubers for some lighthearted fun.
  • They also float, so you can pick up discarded ammo and reuse it as you travel down the river.
  • The first mention of marshmallow fights we could find in newspaper records was a June 22, 2000, Tucson Citizen article that called the tubing experience "innocent if outrageous fun."

The latest: In a Facebook post Thursday, Salt River Tubing said it will no longer allow marshmallows on its property after finding an "excess" in the river recently.

  • Law enforcement informed the company it intends to crack down on polluting tubers, and Salt River Tubing said it doesn't want to see customers get citations.

My thought bubble: This new rule is probably for the best. We all have a responsibility to keep our public lands clean — and, frankly, getting hit in the face with a deteriorating marshmallow is kinda nasty.

Yes, but: There's a small part of me that's sad to see a tradition come to an end. Here's to creating a new environmentally conscious one!

This is a recurring feature delving into interesting episodes from Arizona's history.


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