Jell-O Pamphlets, c.1931

Here we are, eight weeks into 2015 and we have yet to talk about gelatin. That’s a problem I can solve. 🙂

This week, we’ve got some strange and intriguing recipes from two Jell-o pamphlets published in 1931. One has “thrifty” in the title, suggesting it may include some of the more basic (and down-to-earth?) recipes, Thrifty Jell-O Recipes to Brighten Your Menus. The other, The Greater Jell-O Recipe Book, is “greater” in the sense that is has more pages and more recipes. More…creative, shall we call them…recipes. “Greater” is a subjective word and open to interpretation in this context, and I’ll leave it up to you, dear foodies. However, the latter publication does focus more on dishes you might use in entertaining, rather than those you might put on a family dinner menu.

Lime Jell-O came out the year before in 1930, so there are a number of recipes utilizing this new flavor (“Cheese Cube Relish,” “Grapefruit Salad,” and “Creamy Lime Flakes,” for example). There are also plenty of recipes that appear in both booklets and are what we might consider “classics” today. This includes things like “Under the Sea Salad” and various fruit-flavored “fluffs” and jellied strawberries.

I very nearly posted some frozen gelatin recipes, but thought better of it. It’s cold enough here that we don’t need to think about that. Of course, if you’re in many parts of the country this week, you can simply put your Jell-O outside and make your own frozen creations, sweet or savory. Stay warm out there, and we’ll meet you back here next week!

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Jell-O is like the princess…

Jell-O is like the princess in the fairy tale: it is as good as it is beautiful. (It’s so remarkably easy to digest that the children can have second portions, too.) But even the princess’s fabled accomplishments are no match for Jell-O’s versatility!

Jell-O Company. 1928. Today– what salad– what dessert?: Jell-O brings dozens of answers–. [S.l.]: P. Co.

What ‘n what?

It’s Wednesday morning again, and my computer reminds me it’s time for a new blog post (archivist Kira here, again)! I waffled—pun intended—for a bit on this week’s feature, but Whip ‘n Chill lends itself all to well for a visual post. Two gelatin related posts in the inaugural weeks? I know, but there’s plenty of Jell-O history here at Special Collections. Next week, a new direction awaits. For now, though, there’s Whip ‘n Chill…

For several years during the 1960s and 1970s, Jell-O produced Whip ‘n Chill. It came in a mere four flavors-chocolate, vanilla, strawberry, and lemon-but there was no lack of recipes! Electric colors aside (go on, take another good look at the first photo above), the powder was mixed with milk to create something with a texture akin mousse. Many of the recipes in this particular pamphlet are familiar to the Jell-O fan: fruit in and on top, molded towers, multicolored loaves. But there are also new marvels here, too: Peppermint Candy Igloo (center above), petit fours, pies, parfaits, and even ice cream. Whip n’ Chill was born in a time of chemical innovation and the ingredients list reflects that. But it was also part of wave of simplifying, convenience, spending a little less time in the kitchen, and a little more time elsewhere. So, frightening as the ingredients may to be some modern readers, it was actually successful on all counts—at least for a few years.

For those of you who miss the familiar and sometimes described as “chemical” taste, or those wanting to try it, you can still acquire Whip ‘n Chill from the occasional Internet retailer…if you want to buy 8lbs of powdered mix at a time. (And yes, people ARE still looking.) Even though I feel I may have missed out on the experience, I think I’ll pass this time. A child’s wading pool of “Four Flavor Loaf” might be just a bit too much. To the rest of you, though, I say, happy whipping, happy chilling, and happy gelatin-izing!

“Magical Desserts with Whip’n Chill,” 1965. Culinary Pamphlet Collection, Ms2011-002, Special Collections, Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University, Blacksburg, Va.

What a Nightmare!

Some of the publications in the Culinary History Collection are small give away items or mail-order pamphlets. Among them is “Mr. Gourmand’s Strange Dream,” produced by Jell-O around 1925. It includes a vignette about one wife’s nightmare-inspiring desserts. The cure? Lighter and tastier gelatin desserts. And of course, sample recipes are included!

“Mr. Gourmand’s Strange Dream,” c.1925. Culinary Pamphlet Collection, Ms2011-002, Special Collections, Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University, Blacksburg, Va.