Saturday, March 3, 2012

Mass Hysteria and Saturday Morning Jell-O

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.


  1. I think that recipe for making jello eggs is the silliest thing I've ever seen! They used to encourage playing with your food. But I did like when my mother would make red jello with the boiling water, then we would drink it hot.

  2. is it a Washington thing? My BIL, from Washington, is a total lover of Jello -- lime mixed with whipped cream as it sets.

    The women in that ad are emaciated...I guess it's not a modern phenom. And they are so HAPPY. (Nothing tastes as good as being thin feels -- ancient Chinese proverb)

    Thanks for the jello video -- I went to another one and had to post it to fb -- it is delightful. Gorgeous.

  3. I loved Jell-O (in UK it was Chivers Jelly). I would eat the small cubes as they came; my favourite being either Lemon or Blackberry flavour.

  4. Long ago, when I was living in a college dorm, I had few choices but to eat cafeteria food and Jell-O was a standard item for at least two meals a day.

    I haven't eaten the stuff since then because of seeing a range of detritus frozen in the jiggly Jell-O cubes - just like ants in amber - we saw fingernail clippings, cigarette ash, hair, paper and various unidentifiable stuff ... it was disgusting.

    I pass of the Jell-O.

  5. Like Cro...the concentrated jelly cubes were my favourite. I seem to remember my mother telling me it was good for my nails!
    Husband has been on a steady diet of jello since his gallbladder issue reared its ugly head.