I’ve come across some pretty ‘interesting’ recipes using gelatin (popularized and most widely known as Jell-O) in my growing collection of vintage cook books. Some of the recipes look okay but some, well, I find it hard to believe that people back in the day actually ate them.

Jell-O is still on grocery store shelves today and you can find plenty of colourful dessert recipes using gelatin on sites like Pinterest. I can’t say that I eat Jell-O much these days but it does bring back fond memories of when my mom would get out the good crystal dessert cups and make a pretty swirly mix of Jell-O and whipped cream which was always a fun treat as a kid.

Jell-O has had it’s moments as a very popular part of dessert – and dinner. One of the little booklets I’ve got in my vintage stash of cook books called The Joys of Jell-O likely is full of strange recipes and a even a little Jell-O history. Did you know that Jell-O dates back to 1897? It proudly states that the popularity of Jell-O comes from many things such as it’s lightness, it’s fresh fruit taste and because “it’s easy to fix in all kinds of ways – some we’ll wager that have never entered your mind.” (That is definitely true.)

Now Jell-O on it’s own or with fruit as a dessert is not surprising, like the Crown Jewel Dessert below (otherwise known as the Broken Window Glass Cake which is basically Jell-O, cream and pieces of fruit.)

And I can understand mixing Jell-O with ice-cream like in this Birthday Surprise cake.

Recipes like this Avocado Strawberry Ring, Citrus Surprise and Ribbon Salad (made with cream cheese and mayo) are a little more interesting, but still edible I suppose.


But, Jell-o with vegetables, or meat? I’m not so sure. Would you eat a jiggly Jell-O Vegetable Salad?

Or would one of these appetizing fruity Jell-O molds like the Spiced Peaches Relish, Minted Pineapple mold or Quick Tomato Mold entice your taste buds?

And I’ve saved the best for last – my personal favorite recipe from the book, Ring-Around-The-Tuna. That would be Jell-O mixed with tuna and veggies. I bet you’re wishing you could take a big spoonful of this right now, aren’t you?

That is just a taste of the many recipes that were regularly served and enjoyed at dinner parties back in the fifties and sixties. They were a hit back in the day, but would you still give them a chance?

I think I’ll have a Jell-O potluck one of these days. Guests can bring a Jell-O appetizer, salad or dessert. I’ll make a Jell-O dish for the main course and supply the drinks, which will include Jello-O shooters of course.







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