The History of Jell o Gelatin

J-E-L-L-O! There’s always room for JELL-O, these are two well known slogans from JELL-O. But, do you know the story of the JELL-O gelatin became America’s most favorite dessert?

In 1845, a man named Peter Cooper got a patent for the  gelatin dessert. At this time, gelatin desserts were not popular, not coloured and did have the same delicious fruity flavors. 

It was later in 1897, when Pearl B. Wait decided to expand his cough syrup business. His thinking was people only use cough syrup when they are sick, so why not produce something that people will consume on a daily basis. He experimented with  gelatin, by adding fruit syrup and named his creation JELL-O. It was the only product like it on the market, but no one was too interested in trying the new JELL-O  gelatin dessert.  Pearl Wait sold the JELL-O business to Orator Francis Woodward for $450. 

Afew years later a Woodward found some cooks started experimenting with JELL-O in their cooking and it became an instant elegant meal. Soon after Woodward started using the slogan, America’s most favorite dessert and he began to advertise across the country.  Free JELL-O cookbooks were passed out, JELL-O cooking demonstration were done in public areas  and the JELL-O girl was introduced. She was seen in her nursery, but not playing with toys, she was playing with packages of JELL-O. Immigrants that were entering  New York City from Ellis Island, were served JELL-O gelatin as a welcome gift to America. JELL-O was even a sponsor of the  Wizard of Oz radio show and children’s books, the had different JELL-O recipes in the backs of the books. Through these advertising methods JELL-O started to become a house hold name. 

The first four JELL-O flavors were orange, lemon,strawberry, and raspberry. The popular, lime flavor was introduced in 1930.  In the 1950’s even vegetable flavors were introduced to the market, such as celery, Italian, mixed vegetable and seasoned tomato, but now are discontinued. 

During the late 1930s, instant pudding make its way in to North American homes. These instant pudding flavors included, chocolate, vanilla, tapioca, coconut, pistachio, butterscotch, egg custard, flan and rice pudding, some which have also been discontinued. 
During the 1950’s and 60’s the JELL-O company experiment with other flavors including apple, black cherry, black raspberry and grape. They even introduced a mixed fruit line,  lemon-lime, orange-banana, pineapple-grapefruit, strawberry-banana and tropical fruit. 

In the late 1960’s JELL-O started No-Bake desserts. The most popular was a cheesecake that could be made in a quick 15 minutes. In the early 1970’s they introduced pre-packages ready to eat, pudding and 1-2-3 JELL-O, JELL-Othat separated into three fun, separate layers as it cooled.  At the same time the famous slogan, There’s always room for JELL-O was introduced, getting everyone know that JELL-O was a light dessert and could be eaten after every meal. 

It was during the 1970’s that Bill Cosby became the JELL-O spokesperson and continued for nearly 30 years. He helped introduce JELL-O Pops, Sugar-Free JELL-O, JELL-O Jigglers, Sparkling JELL-O and will always be remembered as the JELL-O voice. 

Since the 1980’s new JELL-O flavors such as watermelon, blueberry, cranberry, margarita and piña colada have hit the markets and are some of the most loved flavors.  In 2001, Green or lime JELL-O was named the official of Utah. And in 1996, JELL-O even made it on a space exploration. 

Since JELL-O became a household name, adding fruit has always been a fun way to make your JELL-O dessert more elegant. But, fresh pineapple, papaya, kiwi and ginger root can’t be used. These fruits won’t let the gelatin set.Some fruits when added to JELL-O float, including, orange and grapefruit sections, sliced peaches and pears that are in a light syrup. While other fruits sink, such as cherries,  peaches, and pears, that are in a heavy syrup. A modern twist has been JELL-O shots, adding vodka, rum or a strong alcohol to the JELL-O mixture instead of water. 

JELL-O is the largest selling prepared dessert and is known across the whole world. There are over 160 products through the JELL-O name and about 300 million boxes of JELL-O gelatin sold in the United States each year. It truly is America’s most favorite dessert. 

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