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Vintage Jell-O Advertisements and Recipes Your Grandmother Made

Updated on January 19, 2017
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Thelma is a syndicated newspaper food columnist and a former field editor for Taste of Home magazine.

1930 Cookbook Introducing Lime, a new Flavor

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An Old-Time Favorite

Back in the 1950's and 1960's, there wasn't a family reunion, church social or backyard barbecue that didn't have a Jell-O salad or dessert on the menu. Today, the brightly colored, shimmering gelatin dishes don't seem to be as popular as they once were. However, there are many delicious recipes available in vintage cookbooks like the one shown above.

History of the Gelatin

In 1989, I wrote about the history of Jell-O in Homemaker Headlines, a recipe newsletter I published. Since that was before the internet was invented, I had to rely on other means to get the information I was seeking. I called General Foods company and they were happy to tell me everything I wanted to know about their product.

I was surprised to learn the gelatin had been around since 1845. It was developed and patented by Peter Cooper, however, the idea never seemed to work out for him. He sold his patent in 1897 to a businessman in Le Roy, New York. The buyer began production and his wife named the gelatin invention Jell-O. To their disappointment, no one was interested in this new product. They sold it for $450 to their neighbor who didn't have any better luck with it. He tried to sell it for $35 but couldn't find a buyer!

In desperation, he launched an advertising campaign in the Ladies Home Journal magazine proclaiming it to be "America's Most Famous Dessert". The dessert mix in a little box started to take off and by 1906, sales approached the million dollar mark, quite a lot of money for that time period.

Early 1900's Magazine Advertisement: Anyone can Make It

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Four Vintage Recipes

After publishing the article about the beginnings of this delicious gelatin, I started receiving hundreds of recipes from my readers. I selected 4 of the most popular to feature here. Although it has been almost 30 years since I first shared them, these recipes are timeless. Your family will enjoy them and we may even develop a new generation of Jell-O fans.

Lemon Jell-O Cake

Shared by Evelyn Fehrmann of Hemet, California.

Please Rate this Recipe

5 stars from 1 rating of Lemon Jell-O Cake
Prep time: 15 min
Cook time: 45 min
Ready in: 1 hour
Yields: Several slices depending on how large you cut them
  • 2 3 oz. packages lemon Jell-O
  • 1 cup, hot water
  • 1/2 cup oil
  • 4 eggs
  • 1 box yellow cake mix
  • 2 teaspoons lemon extract
  • 1 whole lemon, juiced
  • 1 cup powdered sugar, sifted
  1. Add Jell-O to hot water in a bowl. Stir until well diluted. Set aside.
  2. In a large mixing bowl, add together oil, eggs (one at a time) and cake mix. Mix well after each egg addition.
  3. Add in lemon extract and the diluted Jell-O. Mix very well.
  4. Pour into a greased and floured 9x13 inch pan. Bake at 350 degrees for 45 minutes or until toothpick inserted in center comes out clean.
  5. While cake is baking, mix together lemon juice and powdered sugar.
  6. When cake is done, remove from oven and while still hot, poke several holes in it with a toothpick. Spoon the powdered sugar and lemon juice mixture over the hot cake. The more holes the better it will taste because the lemon sugar mixture will seep into the cake through the holes.
  7. Let sit until ready to serve.

Peachy Yogurt Salad

Shared by Katy Gardei of Colliers, West Virginia

Ingredients:

  • 2 cups hot water
  • 2 3 oz. packages peach Jell-O
  • 1 16 oz. can crushed pineapple (in its own juice)
  • 1 cup cold water
  • 2 cartons peach yogurt

Instructions:

  1. Add 2 cups hot water to the Jell-O and stir well to dissolve.
  2. Stir in pineapple including the juice.
  3. Add 1 cup cold water.
  4. Fold in yogurt. Stir well to blend all ingredients.
  5. Chill overnight.

Frosted Lime Salad

Shared by Jackie Craig of Miami, Oklahoma

Ingredients:

  • 1 3 oz. package lime Jell-O
  • 1 cup hot water
  • 2 1/2 cups crushed pineapple, undrained
  • 1 cup cottage cheese, drained
  • 1/2 cup chopped celery
  • 1 3 oz. jar diced pimientos, drained
  • 1/2 cup chopped pecans

Topping Ingredients:

  • 1 3 oz. package cream cheese, softened
  • 1 tablespoon mayonnaise
  • 1 teaspoon lemon juice

Instructions:

  1. Dissolve Jell-O in hot water. Chill, stirring frequently, until consistency of unbeaten egg whites.
  2. Add pineapple, cottage cheese, celery, pimientos and pecans.
  3. Pour into 8x8x2 inch dish.
  4. Chill until firm.
  5. To make topping, mash cream cheese. Add mayonnaise and lemon juice.
  6. Spread on top of Jell-O salad when it is completely chilled and you are ready to serve.

Cranberry Raspberry Salad

Shared by Opal Schubert of Princeton, Illinois

Note: This is a layered salad

Ingredients for bottom layer:

  • 1 6 oz. package raspberry Jell-O
  • 1 1/2 cups boiling water
  • 2 10 oz. packages frozen raspberries with juice
  • 1 teaspoon lemon juice
  • 1/2 cup pecans, coarsely chopped

Ingredients for center layer:

  • 1 pint sour cream

Ingredients for top layer:

  • 1 6 oz. package cherry Jell-O
  • 1 cup boiling water
  • 1 13 1/2 oz. can crushed pineapple
  • 1 can whole berry cranberry sauce

Instructions:

  1. Dissolve raspberry Jell-O in 1 1/2 cups boiling water.
  2. Add frozen raspberries, lemon juice and pecans.
  3. Stir well until berries are thawed.
  4. Pour into a lightly greased gelatin mold or a 9x13 inch dish. Refrigerate.
  5. When the raspberry layer is chilled firm, cover it with the pint of sour cream. This is the middle layer. Return the dish to the refrigerator.
  6. Dissolve cherry Jell-O in 1 cup boiling water.
  7. Add pineapple.
  8. Stir cranberry sauce until softened; add to Jell-O.
  9. Refrigerate the cherry Jell-O until it is slightly thick. Then, pour on top of the sour cream to create the top layer.
  10. Chill at least 4 hours before serving.
  11. If desired, garnish with whipped topping and sprinkle with chopped pecans.

1920 Advertisement: Budget Friendly Product

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Early 1900's Advertisement: Homemaker Calling in Grocery Order

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© 2017 Thelma Raker Coffone

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