Friday, July 2, 2010

Life is Just a Bowl of Jello-O

A 4th of July Birthday Party, 1942
(Photographer: Alfred Eisenstaedt; LIFE Photo Archive)

With the 4th of July upon us I had an urge to make a special, patriotic dessert with a touch of nostalgia. So I made a red, white, and blue Jell-O parfait. You can find lots of recipes on the Kraft website just by searching for Jell-O as an ingredient. For my dessert I used raspberry Jell-O as the bottom layer, fresh whipped cream as the middle layer and fresh blueberries as the top layer. It came out pretty good if I do say so myself:

My Red, White & Blue Parfait
(It was a cinch! Raspberry Jell-O with an added package of gelatin for firmness, fresh whipped cream from heavy whipping cream with a few dollops of simple syrup for sweetness, and fresh blueberries sprinkled with Splenda for even more sweetness.)

The history of Jell-O goes back to the early twentieth century, but the patent for powdered gelatin was obtained in 1845. It wasn't until the Genesee Pure Food Company (they were the first to market the product under the name Jell-O) sent out salesmen to distribute free Jell-O cookbooks that Jell-O really took off. From there it went forth all the way from those famous Jell-O salads of the fifties to the vodka-infused Jello-O shots we enjoy today. Other Jello-O products include Jell-O No-Bake desserts, Jello-O Pops and Jell-O Jigglers. It's pretty unbelievable that there was once a celery flavor, or even worse an Italian salad flavor (they were introduced when the savory Jell-O salads were popular). Other discontinued flavors include root beer, bubble gum, maple syrup and cola. I kind of wish they would bring back passion fruit or raspberry mango to tell the truth. Here's a pretty nifty Jell-O commercial from the fifties that features Alice In Wonderland characters:

Note: The title of the post refers to a line in the song "Cockeyed Optimist" from the musical South Pacific (Rodgers and Hammerstein, 1949).

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