Radio stars of the 30s and 40s Jack Benny and Lucille Ball were sponsored by the beloved product, and its advertisements dominated early television shows. Who didn’t love that vibrant, jiggly, fun texture and versatility. Little kids delighted in it, adults found it light and refreshing, and older folks enjoyed it as a simple and sweet conclusion to an otherwise bland meal in a nursing home. It was a predictable, comfortable and welcome sites to millions. It soothed young kids at home with measles and graced the food trays of surgery patients as it eased back them into eating solid foods. It was also the basis for tomato aspics and molded salmon mousse. Although it had some limitations because of mobility and temperature, it frequently took center stage at picnics and backyard barbecues. It was like one of the family.
It was released in the late 1800s by an entrepreneur named Pearle Wait and his wife May, who experimented with grinding gelatin to a powder, which was a hydration originally extracted from the cells and hooves of barnyard animals, including flavorings and sugar which generated the very first sweet version of gelatin. After several dismal years, they ran a large ad in the Ladies’ Home Journal magazine, hyping the new colorful sweet as”America’s favorite dessert” and the product took off. Inexpensive, easy to make and fun for kids, it became a staple in the American household and continues to this day. It went on to be obtained by several large companies over the years and elegant and marketed as an inexpensive”salad” and dessert.
LeRoy, New York is known as its birthplace and has the sole Jell-O Museum in the world, prominently located on the main road through this little town. Jell-O was manufactured there until General Foods closed the plant in 1964 and relocated to Dover, Delaware. According to Kraft foods, the state of Utah eats two times as much lime jello as any other nation (possibly those large Mormon families account for this ). The concept is that Mormons have quite a sweet tooth (they also have the most candy in the country) and when requested to bring a green salad to a dinner, they will show up with lime Jell-O (favorite add-ins include shredded carrots or canned pears).
A hugely popular concoction during the 1950s was a lime jello recipe that featured whipped topping, cottage cheese or cream cheese, crushed pineapple, mini marshmallows and walnuts. It often appeared at baby showers, luncheons, church potlucks and buffet dinners, usually shaped by a large mold and trimmed with mayo. U.S. stats tell us 159.72 million Americans consumed flavored gelatin desserts in 2017, but this figure is projected to reduce to 154.07 million in 2020.
Although the younger generation is moving in a different direction and ingestion stats show a decrease in this once beloved staple of American cuisine, it still holds its own at any family gathering. And most of us agree, there’s always room for Jell-O.