The Joys of Jell-O: Vegetable Trio

Described as a “Dazzling, delicious rainbow of fresh vegetables at you dinner table,” the Vegetable Trio come from The Joys of Jell-O Gelatin Dessert, published in 1962.  This little cookbook was in circulation at the height of Jell-O’s commercial success and it’s filled with all kinds of “dazzling” vegetable salads.

Yes, those are shrimps.

Apparently, when my mother was young, my grandmother made a lime Jell-O, carrot, and cabbage mold every Thanksgiving.  My grandma was the only one that ate it, so no one could figure out why she made it every single year.  I think my grandmother was under the same strange hypnotist’s spell that Jell-O somehow manged to cast over all mid-20th century housewives.

Today, we take my grandmother’s recipe up a notch with the Vegetable Trio: lemon Jell-o, carrots, cabbage, and spinach in three glorious layers.

There’s something very satisfying about layering Jell-O: you get to watch chemistry in action and get a very pretty result.  Lovely to look at–but how did the Trio taste?  About how you’d imagine raw vegetables in lemon Jell-O would taste.  In fact, we were all puzzled by the result of this recipe: “I don’t understand how they wanted this to taste?” “Was this the intent of the recipe?” “Raw vegetables in Jell-O is really unappealing.”

I don’t why I had this wild hope that dishes like the Trio would be a revelation; a long-lost exploration in mind-blowing flavor. I thought these Jell-O recipes were just waiting to be dusted off and reintroduced to a new, enthusiastic audience.  I always thought: “If they tasted so bad, why would they have been so popular?”  I really don’t get it.

Tomorrow, we end on a high note.

6 thoughts on “The Joys of Jell-O: Vegetable Trio

  1. My grandmother used to make a jello with shredded celery in it every summer (1970’s and 80’s). Blech! Only she and my Dad ate it.

  2. At family functions, I experienced Jello combined with only predictable fruits. The results were inoffensive, but I probably would have been just as happy without solid objects suspended in my Jello.

  3. My adult son and I spent three weeks at my parents’ about ten years ago while my father recovered from an illness. We carefully rationed my mother’s copy of The Joys of Jell-O, and read a few pages each evening. We decided that the last line of each recipe should read “and throw it all away.”

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