Monday, December 8, 2008

Joys of Jell-O

On Saturday, I joined dh and her man on a thrift trip. We went to our girl kb's favorite shop in South Philly, (and, of course, she was there). I found a few good finds – a new belt and a linen apron, and a few amazing finds – vintage “cookbooks”. General Foods Corporation published Joys of Jell-o in the late 1960s. I can’t be sure of the date, but according to this book, “Jell-O Gelatin first grandly shimmered its way into American dining rooms in 1897. Just how many brands in your kitchen go back for 70 years?”

I am much more fascinated than repulsed by the “recipes.” Imagine you were Betty Draper’s college roommate - its 1963 and the only acceptable way for you to show off your amazing creativity is through your skills at making gelatin molds. You find inspiration from dinner parties and encouragement from General Foods. In fact, Jell-O’s sustained market share is a result of “housewives [who] liked it so much they turned their imaginative attention to Jell-O, and invented all sorts of ingenious recipes using it.” Bravo housewives, bravo.

Some recipe highlights: Chicken Salad Surprise (cubes of molded chicken salad adorn a tossed green salad); Coolime Salad (this creamy green salad tastes as good and delicious as it looks); Chicken Mousse (a hearty flavorful entrée for hot summer or busy, meeting-filled days); Polynesian Salad (a main-dish salad of rice and ham, with an Oriental flavor).

I promise to post updates if I make anything from these books - Crown Jewel Dessert, i've got my eye on you.


  1. omg, if i were the kind of vegetarian who didn't eat gelatin, i'd totally be converted. fortunately, i am not any kind of vegetarian, so indulge i will (in your crown jewels).

  2. this reminds me of when ali threw heidi a "white trash" baby shower complete with jello mold. only she didn't let it set for long enough so when she took it out of the mold, it fell apart. it was still tasty though, and reignited my love of the canned fruit salad suspended in jello. on a jello related note, have you ever seen/had aspic?

  3. I'll have to lend Ali my copy of Joys of Jell-O so she can brush up on 8 pages of Tips and Tricks For molding, flaking, and cubing.

    What's aspic?

  4. omg. it is basically jello, but instead of being fruity and delish, it is made with tomato juice and has bits of vegetables floating in it. the traditional thing to serve along side is mayonaise. i am totally not kidding.

  5. when i was in americorps, we lived in kansas for a month and had meals made for us by community members. this is where i learned that many dishes could be made with jello. ab, loving the vintage find.

    can you make aspic with vodka in it? like a savory jello shot or a jiggly bloody mary:)

  6. cant wait to try something from here!! jello chicken salad sounds divine!

  7. Jello shots are our T-giving tradition--imagine that.
    Ab, do you remember G-mom Micki's jello w/ canned fruit in the little dessert cups?