Although my subscription lapsed last November, The New Yorker mysteriously keeps showing up in my mailbox. I made a decision to get the Sunday NYTimes instead, but, after reading this piece in this week's The Talk of the Town, I might have to pony-up for another year. According to Emily Eakin, twenty high school girls in Le Roy, New York -- home of The Jell-O Museum -- have been diagnosed with conversion disorder, aka mass hysteria: "a relatively rare phenomenon that, for reasons that are poorly understood, typically strikes groups of adolescents girls. The symptoms are real but their cause isn't genes or germs; it's stress."
Mass hysteria and Jell-O with oatmeal and coffee on a Saturday morning -- how much better can it get?
As a reverse-snob-foodie-of-sorts, I don't hesitate to express my love of Jell-O. (My former husband once asked me how I could profess to be a foodie when I didn't like mussels or oysters.) Not that my cupboard has ever been fully-Jell-O-stocked. In fact, I don't know when the last time was that I had a box of it in my possession. But I do know that I last ate Jell-O a mere nine months ago, while visiting long-time friends in Port Townsend, and B. -- bless her heart -- remembered my odd love of fluorescent gelatinized ingestibles, and served up a crystal bowl of raspberry Jell-O with whipped cream at the dinner table.
It's not food, really. Adding ingredients like ham and onions to, say, lime Jell-O tops my list of Things Not To Eat, Ever. And although meat jellies date back to the Middle Ages, leave it to entrepreneurial Americans to take take a broth of boiled bones, connective tissues, and intestines and add sugar and dye, patent it and make a million.
In 1923, an artifically-sweetened D-Zerta was introduced. Check out this commercial, from the 1970's:
I'd have never guessed that a Saturday morning would go this route, complete with "Chinese-type baby" and "glate Western invention, the spoon" --
I couldn't write any more without mentioning one of my favorite vintage cookbooks:
There's time to make these for Easter -- time enough, in fact, to perfect the problematic chore of blowing eggs (or resort to a plastic egg mold)--
Who knew gelatin could possess such grace and elegance?
I don't know if mentioning the word Jell-O ten times in a post qualifies as a blogging tic, but now for some odd reason I can't help myself from harboring obsessive thoughts about Ring-Around-The-Tuna and Cherry-Mallow Medley. Is it happening to you too? Are we experiencing Blogger Mass Hysteria?!
Maybe it's time to break open a box of raspberry Jell-O, pour a handful onto my palm, and lick it up. Of course, that may well induce an hysteria all its own.