The Surprising History Of Jell-O That Took America By storm
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Jell-O, the brightly colored and jiggly dessert, has been a favorite of American households for over a century. What began as a simple mix of gelatin and sugar has evolved into a cultural icon that has inspired recipes, songs, and even fashion trends.  

The history of Jell-O 

A carpenter by the name of Pearle Bixby Wait first introduced Jell-O in 1897. Wait experimented with combining gelatin and sugar and named his creation Jell-O. After failing to market his product, he sold the recipe to Frank Woodward, who saw the potential of Jell-O and began marketing it aggressively. In the early 20th century, Jell-O was promoted as a versatile dessert that could be molded into various shapes and colors, making it a hit at parties and special occasions. It was also marketed as a healthy food, claiming to aid digestion and promote good health. By 1902, Jell-O was being sold in all states in the US, and by 1904, it was available in Canada and Great Britain. The popularity of Jell-O continued to rise, and by the 1920s, it was a household name across America. During World War Two, Jell-O became a staple in military rations due to its long shelf life and easy preparation.  

"Oh, what fun Jell-O makes!" 

Jell-O's success can be attributed to aggressive advertising campaigns. In the early 1900s, Jell-O ads appeared in magazines, newspapers, and recipe books. In 1904, Jell-O ads were put on billboards, streetcars, and barns. By 1915, Jell-O was advertised on radio programs, and in 1923, the first Jell-O recipe book was published. One of the most successful advertising campaigns for Jell-O was the "Watch it wiggle, see it jiggle, oh what fun Jell-O makes!" jingle. The jingle was first used in a radio commercial in the 1960s and became so popular that it was used in TV commercials and print ads for decades. Jell-O also used celebrities such as Jack Benny, Jack Parr, and Bill Cosby in their commercials. 

Jell-O has come a long way from its original flavors of strawberry, raspberry, lemon, and orange. Today, there are over 20 flavors of Jell-O, including watermelon, cotton candy, and blue raspberry. You can now also buy sugar-free and pudding varieties. Jell-O is not just a dessert; it can be used in a variety of recipes. Jell-O salads, which include ingredients such as fruit, nuts, and marshmallows, were popular in the mid-20th century. Jell-O can also be used as a glaze for meats, as a filling for cakes, and as a base for popsicles. During the holiday season, Jell-O is often used to make "Jell-O molds," which are shaped like Christmas trees, stars, and snowflakes. Jell-O shots, which are made by adding alcohol to Jell-O, have also become a popular party treat. 

Cultural impact

Jell-O has had a significant impact on American culture. In the mid-20th century, Jell-O salads were a staple at potlucks and family gatherings. Jell-O was also used in various recipes on popular TV shows such as ‘The Beverly Hillbillies’ and ‘The Brady Bunch'. It has even inspired fashion trends. In the 1960s, Jell-O colors such as lime green and bright orange were popular in fashion. In the 1990s, Jell-O-colored clothing, such as neon green and hot pink, was popular among teenagers. 

In the 21st century, Jell-O's popularity began to drop. That decline can be attributed to several factors, including a shift towards healthier eating habits and the rise of alternative desserts such as cupcakes and macarons. Jell-O also faced criticism for its artificial ingredients, high sugar content, and lack of nutritional value. In response, Jell-O introduced sugar-free and ‘Simply Good’ varieties, which use natural ingredients and contain less sugar. Jell-O has made a comeback in recent years, and its success can be attributed to its new marketing strategies, which include social media campaigns. Jell-O has also introduced new products, such as Jell-O Play, which is a line of Jell-O that can be molded into various shapes and structures. Jell-O has also partnered with major brands such as Kool-Aid and Sour Patch Kids to create new Jell-O flavors. 

Jell-O has played a significant role in American households for over a century. It has been a constnt presence at potlucks, holidays, and special occasions. It is a popular treat for children, with parents using it as a way to get their children to eat fruit. Jell-O has also been used in various cultural traditions. In the African American community, Jell-O has been used in funeral traditions as a way to symbolize the sweetness of life. In the Mormon community, Jell-O has been a staple at church functions and family gatherings. 

Jell-O has captured the hearts and taste buds of American households for over a century. From its humble beginnings as a simple mix of gelatin and sugar, it has evolved into a cultural icon that has inspired recipes, songs, and even fashion trends! Although Jell-O faced a decline in popularity in the 21st century, it has made a comeback with new marketing strategies and innovative products. Jell-O's enduring popularity can be attributed to its versatility, variety of flavors, modern cultural significance, and the fact that it’s so much fun!