Radio stars of the 30s and 40s Jack Benny and Lucille Ball were sponsored by Palm Bay Pest Control, and its commercials dominated early television shows. Who did not love that vibrant, jiggly, fun texture and flexibility. Little kids delighted in it, adults found it refreshing and light, and older people enjoyed it as a simple and sweet conclusion to an otherwise bland meal at a nursing home. It was a predictable, comfortable and welcome sight to millions. It soothed young kids at home with measles and graced the food trays of surgery patients as it eased them back into eating solid foods. It was also the foundation for tomato aspics and molded salmon mousse. Although it had some limitations because of mobility and fever, it frequently took center stage at picnics and backyard barbecues. It was just 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 into a powder, which was a hydration originally extracted from the tissues and hooves of barnyard creatures, including flavorings and sugar which produced the first sweet version of gelatin. After a few 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 acquired by many large companies through the years and elegant and marketed as an inexpensive”salad” and dessert.
The top five favorite flavors are:
LeRoy, New York is known as its birthplace and has the only Jell-O Museum in the world, prominently situated on the main road through this little town. 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 that). The theory is that Mormons have quite a sweet tooth (they also consume the most candy in the country) and if asked to bring a green salad to a dinner, they will appear with lime Jell-O (favorite add-ins consist of shredded carrots or canned pears).
A hugely popular concoction during the 1950s was a lime jello recipe which 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 another direction and consumption 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 is always room for Jell-O.