Jell-O is Weird

jelloHave you ever read a newspaper column that changed your life?  Yeah, so have I.  But this is not that column.  This is a column about Jell-O.  So all of you who wanted to be inspired or have a good cry or ponder the meaning of life, well, you’re gonna have to go elsewhere this week.  Jell-O is a lot of things but it has never helped anyone discover the meaning of life.  And we can’t expect it to start now.

I’ve been fascinated with Jell-O since childhood.  In 4th grade, Christy Miller told me that powdered Jell-O was made from ground up fingernails.  But don’t believe her.  Christy Miller lied about a lot of things.  She told me we could pass notes in math class and not get caught.  She told me her baby brother washed up on shore on the coast of Florida and they just found him lying there, helpless and in need of a family.  We didn’t need a drama class in elementary school.  Christy Miller brought drama every day of the week.  You don’t even wanna know her take on tater tots.

You might be wondering what really is in the mysterious substance we call Jell-O.  You can always read the ingredients but you won’t understand them.  Take my word for it.  They’re not shooting straight with us.  No regular consumer knows what’s in Jell-O.  It’s a mystery
Sugar, dye, gelatin, sure.  But there are other things, things they don’t list on the box.  Magic things.  One thing I do know is that members of my family have done a lot of weird things with Jell-O over the years.  Really weird things.
I don’t know what kind of family you grew up in, but I come from a family who likes to call something a salad even if it isn’t one.   If someone asked Aunt Margaret what she wanted to bring to Uncle Jim’s birthday party, she would likely say, “Jell-O salad.”  Aunt Margaret, I love you enough to tell you the truth. Pouring two cans of fruit cocktail into a red sugary substance made of heaven knows what, may be a lot of things but it is not a salad.

Did any of you have a mom who liked to get creative with Jell-O?  I grew up in the 70’s and my mom, along with all the other hip small-town moms, had a vast array of Jell-O creations up her sleeve.  In one recipe, she added mini-marshmallows, cottage cheese, and nuts to green Jell-O.  Yeah, I’m not sure why either.

A friend’s mom even grated a head of cabbage to put in green Jell-O.  This was just wrong on so many levels.  She must have felt bad about Aunt Margaret’s “false salad” claim and was trying to make good on it.jello-salad
But I have some good memories of Jell-O too.  When my brother or I would get sick, Mom would always make us several flavors of Jell-O.  It seems Jell-O was deemed by all to have some kind of healing property.

And that just proves my point.  We don’t have to know what’s in it.  We don’t have to over-analyze it.  Kids everywhere like to eat it and maybe that’s good enough.  Jell-O, you’re not just an old friend.  You’re an American institution.

5 Comments (+add yours?)

  1. Njenva
    Oct 09, 2013 @ 11:06:04

    Your first paragraph killed me! Hahahaha. LOL In Kenya, we call it jelly. And I have never seen one with any kind of salad stuff in it! 🙂


  2. Dana Nichols
    Oct 09, 2013 @ 11:43:30

    Hahaha My Mamaw made that green Jello/cottage cheese/marshmallow concoction. I haven’t thought about that in a long time. And yes, Jello was always a sick-day tradition. Thanks for the memories!


  3. thesmarttview
    Oct 09, 2013 @ 13:30:24

    Thanks so much, Njenva and Dana! Njenva, come visit me and I will show you a myriad of American atrocities related to Jell-O…or jelly. 🙂 Dana, I’m glad this helped you travel down memory lane!!


  4. Pat
    Oct 09, 2013 @ 14:46:41

    Jello is the perfect food for the sick, for the children, and to accompany any dinner -with a dollop of whip cream!
    I was raised on it and so far I’m still living!
    The jello molds were a big seller also and we had them hanging on our kitchen walls. The copper one’s looked really good.
    They are a “salad” because sometimes that is the only way we can get some foods that the kid’s really don’t care for”naked” in a colorful dessert type thing!
    Also the puddings in a box were a big seller, the one’s you really took time to actually cook.
    The get the young women today to use a kitchen,,is a miracle. I know, I have young marrieds in my family!


  5. thesmarttview
    Oct 09, 2013 @ 14:59:46

    Thanks for sharing your memories, Pat!! Yes, the molds are a huge part of the Jell-O culture! Thanks for the memories!


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