Jell-O: Wikis


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From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

Type Gelatin desserts/Puddings
Current owner Kraft Foods
Country of origin United States
Introduced 1845

Jell-O is a brand name belonging to U.S.-based Kraft Foods for a number of gelatin desserts, including fruit gels, puddings and no-bake cream pies. The brand's popularity has led to its becoming a generic term for gelatin dessert across the U.S. and Canada.



Green Jell-O

Jell-O is sold prepared (ready to eat) or in powder form, and it is available in many different colors and flavors. The powder contains powdered gelatin and flavorings including sugar or artificial sweeteners. It is dissolved in very hot water, then chilled and allowed to set. Sometimes fruit, vegetables, whipped cream, or other ingredients are added to make often elaborate desserts that can be molded into various shapes. Jell-O must be refrigerated until served, and once set properly, it is normally eaten with a spoon.

There are also non-gelatin pudding and pie filling products under the Jell-O brand. To make pudding, these are cooked on stove top with milk, then either eaten warm or chilled until more firmly set. Jell-O also has an "instant pudding" product which is simply mixed with cold milk and then chilled. To make pie fillings, the same products are simply prepared with less liquid.

Though the word Jell-O is a name brand, it is commonly used in the United States as a generic name for all gelatin products.


Gelatin, which is made from collagen, hide, or intestine, has been well known and used for many years. It was popularized in the Victorian era with spectacular and complex "jelly moulds". Gelatin was sold in sheets and had to be purified, which was very time-consuming. It also made gelatin desserts the province of the relatively well-to-do. In 1845, industrialist Peter Cooper (who built the first American steam-powered locomotive, the Tom Thumb), obtained a patent (US Patent 4084) for powdered gelatin.[1][2]

Forty years later the patent was sold to a LeRoy, New York-based carpenter and cough syrup manufacturer, Pearle B. Wait. He and his wife May added strawberry, raspberry, orange and lemon flavoring to the powder and gave the product its present name in 1897. Unable to successfully market their concoction, in 1899 the Waits sold the business to a neighbor, Orator Francis Woodward, for $450.

Beginning in 1902, Woodward's Genesee Pure Food Company placed advertisements in the Ladies' Home Journal proclaiming Jell-O to be "America's Most Famous Dessert." Jell-O remained a minor success until 1904, when Genesee Pure Food Company sent enormous numbers of salesmen out into the field to distribute free Jell-O cookbooks, a pioneering marketing tactic at the time.[3] Within a decade, three new flavors, chocolate (discontinued in 1927), cherry and peach, were added, and the brand was launched in Canada. Celebrity testimonials and recipes appeared in advertisements featuring actress Ethel Barrymore and opera singer Ernestine Schumann-Heink.

In 1923, the newly rechristened Jell-O Company launched D-Zerta, an artificially sweetened version of Jell-O. Two years later, Postum and Genesee merged, and in 1927 Postum acquired Clarence Birdseye's frozen foods company to form the General Foods Corporation. By 1930, there appeared a vogue in American cuisine for congealed salads, and the company introduced lime-flavored Jell-O to complement the various add-ins that cooks across the U.S. were combining in these aspics and salads. By the 1950s, these salads would become so popular that Jell-O responded with savory and vegetable flavors such as celery, Italian, mixed vegetable and seasoned tomato. These savory flavors have since been discontinued.

In 1934, sponsorship from Jell-O made comedian Jack Benny the dessert's spokesperson.[4] At this time also was introduced a jingle (created by the agency Young & Rubicam[5]) that would be familiar over the next several decades, in which the spelling "J-E-L-L-O" was (or could be) sung over a rising five-note musical theme.

In 1936, chocolate returned to the Jell-O lineup, this time as an instant pudding made with milk. It proved enormously popular and over time other pudding flavors were added such as vanilla, tapioca, coconut, pistachio, butterscotch, egg custard, flan and rice pudding.

New flavors continued to be added and unsuccessful ones were removed: in the 1950s and 1960s, apple, black cherry, black raspberry, grape, lemon-lime, mixed fruit, orange-banana, pineapple-grapefruit, blackberry, strawberry-banana, tropical fruit and more intense "wild" versions of the venerable strawberry, raspberry and cherry. In 1966, the Jell-O "No-Bake" dessert line was launched, which allowed a cheesecake to be made in 15 minutes. In 1971 pre-packaged prepared pudding called Jell-O Pudding Treats were introduced. During this same period, 1-2-3 Jell-O, a gelatin dessert that separated into three layers as it cooled was unveiled. Until 1987, 1-2-3 Jell-O could readily be found in grocery stores throughout most of the United States, but the dessert is now extremely rare. Jell-O Whip 'n Chill, a mousse-style dessert, was also introduced and widely promoted; it also remains available only in limited areas today. Often people will refer to Red Jell-o when describing the monster in The Blob.

In 1964, the slogan "There's always room for Jell-O" was introduced, promoting the product as a "light dessert" that could easily be consumed even after a heavy meal.

In 1974, comedian Bill Cosby became the company's pudding spokesperson, and continued to serve as the voice of Jell-O for almost thirty years. Over the course of his tenure as the mouthpiece for the company, he would hawk new products such as frozen Jell-O Pops (in both gelatin and pudding varieties); the new Sugar-Free Jell-O, which replaced D-Zerta in 1984 and was sweetened with NutraSweet; Jell-O Jigglers concentrated gummi snacks; and Sparkling Jell-O, a carbonated version of the dessert touted as the "Champagne of Jell-O."

In 1989, General Foods was merged into Kraft Foods by parent company Philip Morris (now the Altria Group). New flavors were continually introduced: watermelon, blueberry, cranberry, margarita and piña colada among others. In 2001, Green Jell-O was declared the "Official State Snack" of Utah, with Governor Michael O. Leavitt declaring an annual "Jell-O Week."[6] During the 2002 Winter Olympics in Salt Lake City, the souvenir pins included one depicting green Jell-O.[7]

As of 2008, there are more than 158 products sold under the Jell-O brand name and about 300 million boxes of Jell-O gelatin sold in the United States each year.

Jell-O is also used as a substantial ingredient in a well-known dessert, a "Jell-O mold" the preparation of which requires a mold designed to hold gelatin, and the depositing of small quantities of chopped fruit, nuts, and other ingredients before it hardens and takes on its typical form. Fresh pineapple, papaya, kiwi, and ginger root cannot be used because they contain enzymes that prevent the gelatin from "setting."

Jell-O shots

A popular alternative recipe calls for the addition of an alcoholic beverage to the mix, contributing approximately one third to one half of the liquid added after the gelatin has been dissolved in the boil. A serving of the resulting mixture is called a "Jell-O shot". The quantity and timing of the addition of the alcohol are vital aspects; it is not possible to make Jell-O shots with pure alcohol:

Dry gelatin is composed of colloidal proteins. These proteins form chains that require hot water to denature them, so that they can then reform as a semisolid colloidal suspension incorporating the added water. Pure alcohol cannot be heated (without evaporation) enough to initially break down the proteins.[8]

Manufacturing and tourism

As of 2008, LeRoy, New York, is still known as the home of Jell-O and has the only Jell-O Museum in the world, which is located on the main road through the small town. Jell-O was manufactured here until General Foods closed the plant in 1964 and relocated manufacturing to Dover, Delaware.[2]

At the museum, visitors can learn about the history of the dessert from its inception. Visitors starting on East Main Street, follow Jell-O Brick Road, whose stones are inscribed with the names of former factory employees. The museum offers looks at starting materials for Jell-O, such as sturgeon bladder and calves' hoofs, and various molds.

Current flavors



Discontinued flavors

Cultural references


Jack Benny's top-rated radio show did not break away for commercials. Instead, his announcer, Don Wilson, incorporated speeches about Jell-O into the program at appropriate places, to Jack's feigned comic annoyance. Perhaps the earliest musical reference to Jell-O was in the lyrics of "Cockeyed Optimist" from the musical South Pacific (Rodgers and Hammerstein, 1949) when Nellie sings "I could say life is just a bowl of Jell-O". Forty years later, it was mentioned in the film Ghostbusters 2. When Winston is reminded that a supernatural 'goo' resembles Jell-O, he remarks that he hates Jell-O. Peter Venkman responds, "There's always room for Jell-O". In the American TV version of the UK series The Office (2005) Jim Halpert has encased Dwight Schrute's and Andy Bernard's office supplies in Jell-O. In the original UK-based show (2001) Tim Canterbury did the same to Gareth Keenan, though they referred to the dessert by the common UK term "jelly". The Kids in the Hall had a sketch called "Salty Ham" in which the two main characters talk about Jell-O 1-2-3. Samantha Carter of Stargate SG-1 has been seen to enjoy blue Jell-O on numerous occasions. Jell-O powder was a primary ingredient in the green slime for the 1980s TV show, You Can't Do That on Television. Jell-O was mentioned in a Star Trek Voyager episode 'The 37s' where Neelix had prepared some human food to the 37s. Neelix had made Jell-O for the character Fred Noonan; portrayed by David Graf. In 3rd Rock from the Sun the aliens panic at the sight of Jell-O, which resembles a dangerous organism on their home world.

Eric Reed Boucher, the lead singer of the punk rock band Dead Kennedys, used Jello Biafra as his stage name. Comedy/heavy metal and punk rock group Green Jelly was originally named Green Jellö. The band changed its name due to legal pressure from Kraft Foods, who claimed that it was an infringement of their trademark.


Comedian Bill Cosby is usually associated with Jell-O and, more famously, Jell-O pudding as he has appeared in many commercials promoting both. Shows like MAD TV, The Simpsons and SNL parody Cosby, using Jello references like "pudding pop". In the 1960s, the cast of the sitcom Hogan's Heroes did a commercial with Carol Channing featuring the gang having Jell-O for dessert.


In 1992, Ivette Bassa won the second ever Ig Nobel Prize in chemistry for inventing blue jello.[9][10]

See also


External links


Up to date as of January 15, 2010

Definition from Wiktionary, a free dictionary

Wikipedia has an article on:




Alternative spellings

  • jello
  • Jello (AHD)
  • Jell-o (Collins Word Exchange - may be an error)
  • JELL-O (Company’s own web site)

Proper noun


  1. (US, Canadian) A brand of dessert made from gelatin.
  2. Through genericization, any brand of fruit flavored gelatin dessert mix.
    The store brand Jell-O is just as good and one third the price.



  • jelly (UK, Australia, etc)

Simple English

Jell-O is a brand name belonging to the United States. It is known for a number of gelatin desserts, such as fruit gels, puddings, and unbaked cream pies. including fruit gels, puddings and no-bake cream pies.


Jell-O is sold as all prepared (ready to eat) or in powder form, and it is has many different colors and flavors. The powder has powdered gelatin, sugar, and artificial sweeteners. It is melted into hot water, and then chilled and eaten. Sometimes other ingredients are added to make them taste better. Jell-O must be put in a refrigerator until it is served, and usually eaten with a spoon.

There are also pudding and pie under the Jell-O brand. To make pudding, they are cooked on the stove with milk, then eaten.

Though the word Jell-O is a name brand, it is commonly used in the United States as a generic name for all gelatin products.

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