Weird food we used to make with Jell-O during the holidays

Take a trip through Thanksgiving's past with 10 vintage ads for Jell-O salads, leftover surprises and wiggling, jiggling side-dishes.

When did we stop using gelatin in savory dishes? Now, we hear what you are saying in Minnesota and around the Midwest: "Stop"? Jell-O salads are still a tradition in some parts of the country. The words "Jell-O salad" immediately bring to mind Thanksgivings at grandma's with chunks of pretzels and carrots suspended in a wiggling lime mold. To some this may sound crazy, to some it sounds like home. Don't knock it until you try it.

But the fact is, gelatin was a staple of the mid-century kitchen. Around the holidays, Jell-O drove its marketing hard, as you will see from these vintage magazine advertisements. The recipes included asked cooks to get creative with the dessert. Well, it was hardly just a dessert considering some of the flavors you'll find below.

Did you grow up eating or serving Jell-O salads in the '50s, '60s and '70s?

1. Turkey

People love turkey. People love stuffing. People love cranberry sauce. Why not pile everything together?

2. Mayonnaise

As if Jell-O wasn't smooth enough already, a heavy dollop of mayo will add that extra creamy mouthfeel.

3. Chicken and onions

Don't make a face. We have progressed to chicken and waffles. Maple syrup isn't that far off.

4. Olives

Well, one giant olive at least.

5. Pretty much any vegetable

Anything from the garden (or the can) could go in mold.

6. "Flaked" and "riced" Jell-O

Now this is an idea most of us could still get behind — dhredded Jell-O.

7. Grape-Nuts and actual nuts

Old recipes used to specific "walnut meats." We don't need to clarify that. Was anyone throwing shells in?

8. "Manhattan"

To be honest, we have seen some things on city streets akin to this.

9. Cheese and celery

Jell-O no longer offers vegetable flavors. Melon Fusion is as wild as it gets. As fans of Cel-Ray soda, we would at least try this.

10. Literally anything in the kitchen

Other flavors included "Italian Salad" and "Seasoned Tomato." With those options, you could toss anything in the mix. 

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BradBeall 8 months ago
About 20 years ago, I found some very different Jell-O flavors at a store that has long since closed down... flavors such as "Sour Apple" and "Extreme Peach". I used those flavors to make Jell-O shots for the adult Trick-or-Treaters on Halloween (it's a cool and growing tradition in my neighborhood). They were a huge hit! Does anyone know if these Jell-O flavors are still available? And if so, where can they be purchased?
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