There’s no denying that Jell-O has a permanent place in the home cooking Hall of Fame. Each box of flavored instant gelatin has the ability to transform fruit, vegetables and even whipped topping into kaleidoscope salads. This Simple Lime Gelatin Salad is proof! But it hasn’t always been made in flavors like cherry, strawberry and lime. The unusual flavors of vintage Jell-O gave cooks the ability to make all sorts of on-trend gelatin salads.
Can you believe Jell-O has been on the shelf for more than 120 years? Find the other vintage foods have been around longer than you think!
Why ’50s Cooks Loved Jell-O
In the 1950s, most Americans were embracing innovative convenience foods, and Jell-O was heavily marketed to homemakers as the most versatile ingredient in kitchen. You could use Jell-O to make food more flavorful! Your leftovers could be used up! For the diet-conscious, Jell-O was low in calories! Plus, foods suspended or coated in Jell-O stayed fresher longer—and that includes vegetables, meats and even sandwiches.
Jell-O molds and salads gained popularity. The creativity of home cooks was on display in visually dazzling creations, perfect for parties, potlucks and church suppers.
Yes, Cooks Even Loved Savory Jell-O Salads
Jell-O was always a natural pairing for desserts, with flavors like lemon, lime and cherry working beautifully in recipes made with fresh fruit, marshmallows and whipped cream. But mid-century, savory Jell-O recipes were also very popular! Molded salads using veggies (like in this asparagus salad), hard-cooked eggs (here’s one) and meats were en vogue for social events like luncheons, bridge games and cocktail hours.
They Made What Flavors?
Nancy Mock for Taste of Home
Not surprisingly the creators of Jell-O have introduced—and subsequently discontinued—dozens of flavors over the decades, hoping to keep the Jell-O craze alive. Here are some of the most surprising savory Jell-O flavors that have come and gone:
- Italian Salad
- Mixed Vegetable
- Seasoned Tomato
Not every sweet flavor makes the cut, either:
- Bubble Gum
- Cotton Candy
- Maple Syrup
- Sparkling Mandarin Orange
By the ’80s, the popularity of Jell-O dwindled, especially for savory recipes. The company refocused on sweets and snacks, especially products geared towards kids. (Have you heard about Jell-O’s edible slime?) Fortunately, you can still find a lot of Jell-O creativity out there! What will we see next?