As a child of the 60’s and 70’s who grew up watching Scooby Doo, The Brady Bunch, The Ed Sullivan Show, and (my Nana’s weekly ritual that I dreaded) the Lawrence Welk Show on TV, I was all too familiar with that catchy jingle, “There’s Always Room for Jell-O.”
Jell-O blew into America’s kitchens with a vengeance after sugar rationing ended following World War Ii. Instant gelatin had been available since 1897 when carpenter and cough syrup manufacturer Pearle Bixby Wait of LeRoy, New York trademarked a fruit-flavored granulated gelatin and sugar dessert he called “Jell-O”.
Jell-O rode the train of popularity into the hearts of America’s home cooks during a time of social change. The baby boom saw a significant increase in sales for Jell-O. Young mothers and busy wives eagerly embraced easy-to-prepare pre-packaged foods. Creating a Jell-O dessert was as straight-forward as boiling water, stirring it into the Jell-O powder, putting the mixture into a container, then refrigerating it to set. The “container” of choice (I still have one) was often a Tupperware mold.
Thanks to some aggressive marketing and the publication of cookbooks and recipes dedicated to dishes created with Jell-O, there is a plethora of foods, particularly things refered to as “salads”, that can be created with Jell-O. Admittedly, some were actually tasty — and some were down-right bizarre. My Mom never got caught up much in the Jell-O “salad” craze although she did do one with lime Jell-O, miniature marshmallows, and crushed pineapple for a pot-luck once in awhile.
in my family, we usually ate our Jell-O “straight”: no frills, no additives. My Dad actually loved Jell-O with his favorite being the lime flavor followed by orange. I remember my Mom pouring boiling water over Jell-O powder in a spouted milk glass mixing bowl then giving me a spoon to stir the mixture until the gelatin dissolved. She would divide the liquid up into some fancy footed individual dessert dishes that we got through a promotion at the local grocery store. (I still have those, too.)
Pop’s love for Jell-O never waned, even through the final year of his life during which he was hospitalized repeatedly as Black Lung took his life. He never complained when a meal tray arrived containing Jell-O, and if it didn’t, he’d ask for some.
My late husband, James, did not share my Dad’s taste for Jell-O, in fact, he hated it. I used to make it for myself, but no matter how many times I offered him some, the answer was always, “No!”
One particularly hot spell of weather in New Hampshire sent me looking through Mom’s old recipe file for little- or no-cook recipes. I pulled out a card with this recipe for a refrigerated Jell-O based pie. After a quick trip to the market, I put the pie together before James got home from work.
When i pulled the pie from the refrigerator after supper that evening, James’ eyes lit up. “Oh, that looks good!” he said. He grabbed a plate and cut himself a huge slice. As he took a big bite then proceeded to gobble it up, I quietly leaned over and dropped some junk mail on top of the empty Jell-O box lying in the trash can. He never asked what the pie was made with and I never told him.
Easy and delicious
I love this pie. The recipe is a classic. It is so quick and easy to make you will find yourself wanting to experiment with other gelatin flavors; raspberry, peach (one of my favorites) – use your imagination.
This is a very family and budget-friendly recipe and kids love it. This is a 3 or 4 ingredient dessert that is a welcomed light and refreshing ending to any meal. Try it frozen in the hot summer months.
You can top it with additional whipped topping and garnish with fruit or serve it as is. You can choose to add fruit to the filling or not, it is up to you. If adding fruit to the filling, use a cup of small fruits or chopped pieces; make sure it is dry (fresh blueberries) or well drained (chopped canned peaches).
Cool and Creamy Jello PieCourse: DessertsCuisine: Coal Region, RetroDifficulty: Easy
This is a 3 or 4 ingredient dessert that is a welcomed light ending to any meal.
2 cups fresh strawberries, divided
2/3 cup boiling water
1 – 3 ounce box Jell-O Strawberry Flavor Gelatin
1/2 cup cold water
1 – 8 ounce tub Cool Whip Topping, thawed
1 ready-to-use graham cracker or shortbread crust (6 oz.)
- Slice 1 cup strawberries; refrigerate for later use. Chop remaining strawberries; set aside.
- Add boiling water to gelatin mix; stir 2 min. until completely dissolved.
- Add enough ice to cold water to measure 1 cup. Add to gelatin; stir until slightly thickened. Remove any un-melted ice.
- Whisk in Cool Whip. Stir in chopped strawberries.
- Refrigerate 20 to 30 min. or until mixture is very thick and will mound. Spoon into crust.
- Refrigerate pie 6 hours or until firm.
- Experiment with other gelatin flavors; lemon, lime, orange, raspberry, peach – use your imagination.