When I was a kid, Jell-O was the kind of dessert that you had if the other option was not having dessert, or if you were already too full of Cheetos Paws to care. Jell-O Pudding was pretty great, but the gelatin itself had fallen so out of favor that Bill Cosby and his sweater started hawking "Jell-O Jigglers," the pretense being, "Hey, these kids are just going to put their hands in the shit, maybe we can sell THAT."
You can only imagine my surprise at discovering a 96-page "cookbook" from 1962 called "Joys of Jell-O," a publication that predates the introduction of Jell-O Pudding by nine years.
I was born in 1979. I know nothing about what the 1970s were like and even less about the decades that preceded them, but if I had any interest in learning about the Godless, filthy heathens that populated those dark times I would have any number of history books and literature to select from, with varying degrees of bias or lack thereof. But based on the horrifying contents on this book, I am forced to conclude that the 1960s were a terrifying time for food. We are talking about an age before we knew what the fuck was a trans fat, Kentucky Fried Chicken was still frying its product in the sweat of undocumented laborers, and McDonald's French fries were actually individually carved pieces of cooking lard. John F. Kennedy was in the White House, the Vietnam War was still a toddler, and
a fake moon landing was being planned people wanted their throats and bowels full of gelatin, and lots of it!
It may be hard for those of us living in the harsh future of 2007 to envision a time when a quivering mound of pureed horse was the number one dessert in the country. Perhaps this Jell-O Corporation-approved cookbook has some answers for us. Join me, fellow time travelers, as we peek inside:
Allow me to paraphrase: we tried to make housewives feel important, so we faked like they had anything to do with the horrifying abominations of cuisine we're about to unveil. Oh and PS, Jell-O "sits lighter" than a porterhouse, so cram a few dozen pounds down your neckhole, you faceless consumer, you.
We begin right away with dessert, because as this section's introduction helpfully reminds all you gals, your husband and children don't give a shit about the suckling pig you slow-roasted on a spit, or the nine hours you spent accumulating grime and sweat about your bonnet whilst working the bellows in the hearth under a phalanx of Cornish game hens. They want chocolate, dammit. They need confections and candies to shovel into their gaping maws, sustaining their ever-expanding jowls. Only when their bellies are full of pudding and candied plums will they slump into a catatonic stupor, allowing you a moment's respite with which to weep openly and lament the life decisions you have made.
But anyway, cakes!
Or, if not cakes...this! Yes, you too can make this glorious Pepto-Bismol basket-shaped loaf! Amaze your friends with this festive Krang mold! Imagine the agonized shrieks as you shovel spoonfuls of the hive mind into your slovenly pate!
One of the ingredients is ¾ cup cold water OR fruit juice. It's this kind of versatility and forward thinking that will continue to keep America on top! Who's going to make a better car than us? The Germans? That'll be the day! USA! USA!
Here is a ghastly two-page spread. The left-hand side is a list of gimmicks thought up for Dino Bravo in the 1970s and the right-hand side features a cruel sexual device and a type of ice cream who hate what taste tastes like. "Milk Sherbet", apart from being my porn star name, is just sad. It's like ice milk lowered its standards and was like, "Fuck man, I'll never be ice cream. I'm just gonna let myself go and start sleeping with the near-beer."
The Crown Jewel Dessert pictured on the left there is pretty great, because you've got a pie and a cake made out of Starburst and the vomit of Gustav Klimt, and some type of marshmallow confection comprised of one of those snake trapezoid toys that some relative thought would be as fun as a Rubik's Cube, but was actually only a fun as a line you can bend into right angles. THANKS UNCLE PAUL, NEXT YEAR JUST TOUCH ME INAPPROPRIATELY.
The true star of the show here, however, is "Cherry Cola Mold". Now you are probably thinking what I thought when I read the title: "Hey, Cherry Coke Jell-O? I would eat that shit!" Allow me to point out that the first line in the recipe is "Blend cream cheese and mayonnaise until smooth."
BLEND CREAM CHEESE AND MAYONNAISE UNTIL SMOOTH
That's right, Jell-O Gelatin Dessert believes the first step toward making something taste like cherry cola is to create a ghastly mayo-cream cheese hybrid and, I can only presume, smear it about your person. If you were to ask me which two things I would not want in something I wanted to be cherry cola-flavored, Best Foods and Philly would have NEVER BEEN CONSULTED. All I have to say is that it's a damn good thing this book was written before cholesterol was invented.
I will bet you fifty dollars that if you go to Urbandictionary, a dozen frat boys have already thought of sexual positions or proclivities named "Creamy Freeze" and "Plum Pudding". Let me guess:
- Creamy Freeze is when you are boning in a walk-in freezer and you ejaculate a cube of semen.
- I thought of a joke involving a hemorrhoid but I will just say that it started with "Last night I was givin' the ‘ball-an'-chain' a bit of the ol' Plum Pudding..."
Attention Jell-O: adding an adjective to the end of a dessert does not make it more special. Need I remind you of Nabisco's "Butter Wafers Grandiose" and the "Flaky Pastry Erogenous" by Hostess?
And that is just straight-up cold to stick plain ol' Cranberry Squares in between those two fancy-schmancy names. She already has enough people who don't want to eat her.
Pardon me, waiter. I believe this Courvoisier has gone bad.
Oh shit, look at that, you actually are supposed to include alcohol to this. "These peaches are okay and all, but MORE RUM!"
Oh hey look, a cherry-flavored dessert that doesn't involve cream cheese OR mayonnaise! IT IS A TECHNOLOGICAL BREAKTHROUGH
Holy shit is that thing full of tiny skulls?
Every ingredient in this recipe is a brand name. That's synergy, decades before the word existed. This is actually a picture of a Bizarro-world Ho-Ho (or oH-oH if you prefer) coated in a thick layer of butter and garnished with Bionicle helmets.
Fruit Pie Unlimited: a quarterly oversized pie drawn by terrible artists like Mark Pacella and featuring shitty stories like "Cyclops crashes the Blackbird in the Savage Land! HOW WILL HE SURVIVE?" I will tell you how: BORINGLY.
THESE COLORS SHOULD NOT EXIST IN DESSERT. "Would you like some Frosty Pie?" Well I don't know what that is, but fuck yes. "You will like it, it is grey." Wait, what. "Well, sort of a peuce-grey." Hey, go fuck yourself, Grandma.
Another thing is that pie crust should not be flocked. Like, ever. I don't want your nasty Mossman pie, Jell-O. Come back when that's a McFlurry.
Although there is nothing inherently funny about Key Lime Pie, there is a LOT funny about a giant cognac flask marked "BITTERS" in giant block letters. 1962's kitchen: a pantry full of rows upon rows of pebbled glass bottles: BITTERS, MOLASSES, VANILLA EXTRACT, ABSINTHE, HEMLOCK, LYE, MUSTARD.
Avocado Pie is like something you would hear a homeless guy offer his imaginary friend. Heyyyyyy, get away from me.
The introduction to this section says that these recipes can be either a dessert or a salad. The only difference? If it's a dessert, top with whipped cream. If it's a salad, top with mayonnaise. Yep. I think what makes this so creepy is that this does not work WITH ANYTHING ELSE IN THE UNIVERSE. Try it next time you are at Cold Stone. Have them fold some mayo into your Dark Chocolate Mint. Your ice cream will not become a salad, but your lunch will be on the outside of your body!
Oh hey, what's that coating this eviscerated cantaloupe? Cream cheese! Suck it up, you weren't using those arteries anyway!
Strawberries in a sneeze pile, Jell-O wearing a chef's hat, and a hard-boiled egg covered with a thick slab of SPAM. I don't think "Ribbon Salad" is anywhere near describing whatever that is on the right there. Perhaps "Bleeding Tiramisu" or "No Thank You".
God damn, always with the cream cheese, these fuckers. "Whattaya got, Johnson? Minty Pear Salad? Better throw some cream cheese in that shit. This is Jell-O! No dame's gonna impress her sewing circle if she shows up with some cream-cheese-less gelatin mold! GET YOUR HEAD IN THE GAME"
mom i think the blood cheese has gone bad
If you look at this picture the right way it looks like someone shoved Kenny Rogers‘ head into a dessert glass. This is what happens when you fuck with the Russian Mafia, Kenny. KNOW WHEN TO FOLD THEM.
BlueCarolina97: would you eat jello that was filled with cabbage
Roxymoron87: well reading that made me gag, so I'm going with no.
Yes, below the lime Jell-O piled high with infant fingers is perhaps the greatest example of the rampant what-the-fuckery involved in this entire endeavor: the Vegetable Trio.
Carrots. Cabbage. Spinach. Don't forget the minced chives on top! I'll have mine with extra AUUUGGGGHHH, please! Who in the world was thinking "Hey, carrots are pretty awesome, you guys. Want some that are suspended in lemon goo?"
Oh, it has vinegar in it, too. Because why not.
Apple Tuna Mold. I'm not going to double-check, but I'm guessing that's mayo in the center. You know, because it's a salad.
This salad is difficult to prepare because you have to play the guitar real good and get your parents to make out while your hands are disappearing. Those 1962 housewives were resourceful!
Alternate joke: This salad is difficult to prepare because you need a dinglehopper.
I just noticed that all of these baking directions are like "Did you get the shit from the ingredients list? Good, now dump it in the goop. Now drink more mayonnaise."
Oh man, has anyone seen my stainless-steel flat spatula? How in God's name am I supposed to get these solid cubes onto this salad?!
Whoa holy shit, Dave. This "smudge" tool makes this shit look craaaaaaaaaaazy.
I'm actually pretty amazed at how crazy some of this stuff looks. I would be more impressed if I wasn't dry-heaving and gouging my eyes out in horror. The top left mold appears to have a Bouncing Souls logo garnish. Tasteful.
Chicken Mousse sounds like a new Nicktoon. In fact, having typed that, I'm sure we will be seeing a ChickenMoose pilot in about ten months, featuring that guy who did the voice for Buster Bunny, AKA the only person in the world whose voice I hate more than Tress MacNeille's. I will therefore preemptively hurl Nickelodeon studios into the Negative Zone to be consumed by Blastaar and Annihilus simultaneously.
Aw, the book doesn't say how to make the radish roses! I will never figure out which five cuts to make in the radish to get it to look like that!
God, look at those olives in there. I think it's so much worse that you can't actually see the tuna in this recipe. There is merely the threat of it lurking somewhere in that sinister green cauldron. This is 100% the one thing that would be left completely untouched at the end of a potluck.
Surprise! You're about to vomit!
Tomato mold? Well, why didn't you say so! I'll just go ahead and tip my head back and you push that entire thing past my esophagus! Mmmmm, that's good "eating!" Ketchup is for communists!
Tuna combined with mayonnaise is the only thing that has made any sense so far. I like to think that the peas and apples are in the picture because that's what was lying around during the photo shoot. "We gotta spruce this action up, Jimmy! This ain't the normal Tuna Salad we're talking about, this is De Luxe!"
We have heard your suffering, my fellow citizens. No longer will your cries go unheeded. We are here to guide you toward the light. Together we will usher in the bright dawn of a better tomorrow. Join us, and we will show you the New Ways.
Making. Out. With. Marzipan!
This photograph represents state-of-the-art 1962 refrigeration technology. BEHOLD THE FROST-GLAZED BOUNTY! This is like if Taco Bell had a photo on their menu of the taco beef in the middle of being squeezed from the caulking gun.
Jell-O Gelatin is really kid stuff to make. We here at Jell-O are in the business of belittling, and now that you've made it to the final section, we're here to tell you that you ain't shit, sister. I bet you couldn't even flake Jell-O and put a scoop of whipped butter into its midst. Let's see you handle this action:
That's right, Mary. Bet you were trying to get the Jell-O out of those molds with your teeth. Well, we decided to throw you a bone and show you how it's done. Please note that only feminine hands should attempt this, as shown in these detailed diagrams.
Now try THIS on for size. Impress all the other dames down to the Piggly-Wiggly by showing them you cook so well as to DEFY THE LAWS OF PHYSICS. (Don't worry, sweet cheeks, the secret's safe with us. Just don't forget the capers! They go well with flavored sugar, you know.)
What's this you say? The term "syrupy" means "consistency of thick syrup"? Never would have been able to crack that code. Thanks, Jell-O.
Also of note: the method of checking whether your Jell-O is "Very Thick" ruins your Jell-O. Now they're just fucking with people.
And in case you have gotten mayonnaise all over this book, you can write for another!
Hey, you can get six molds for fifty cents! 1962 is awesome! I don't want or need any of this shit, but LOOK HOW CHEAP!
I think they are trying to tell me that Jell-O is refreshing. This ad is actually the first-ever Magic Eye picture. If you relax your eyes you can see Stalin slurping up a plate of Jell-O and cackling.
Well, this book has certainly opened my eyes. Before I flipped through it I was completely apathetic toward Jell-O, leaning towards dislike. But now I will stab in the lungs anyone who tries to offer some to me. Only Jell-O is the lungstabbing dessert!