Mental Floss

How Jell-O Salad Became the Unlikely Star of 1950s Cuisine

Michele Debczak
CSA-Printstock via Getty Images
CSA-Printstock via Getty Images / CSA-Printstock via Getty Images

Though it's become a symbol of mid-century convenience cuisine, Jell-O salad has a surprisingly long history. Wealthy households first began shaping gelatin into molds during the medieval age. A variety of ingredients—from truffles to calves' tongues—were suspended in these elaborate aspics.

But it wasn't until the 20th century that instant powdered gelatin allowed average home cooks to create Jell-O salads in their own kitchens. This era gave us such recipes as Perfection Salad, ring-around-the-tuna, and other savory-sweet creations.

In the latest episode of Food History, Mental Floss explores the rise and fall of the Jell-O salad. If you've ever wondered what makes gelatin jiggle, or if lime Jell-O and canned tuna pair well together, check out the video below.

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