A Very Brief History of Jell-O

Jell-O’s history is long and varied. From its beginnings in 1879 it has welcomed immigrants to America at Ellis Island; championed food campaigns for dainty, easy-to-digest, and pretty foods; presented time-saving solutions to the modern housekeeper; helped war-time housewives cope with rationing; become a popular ingredient in mainstream cookbooks; traveled into space; and had us begging mom to make Jell-O Jigglers.   

Creative License and Jell-O gelatin

Jell-O saw it highest creative expressions in the ‘50s. Housewives began impressing guests by presenting molded salads with fruits, vegetables, nuts, and cream cheese suspended in red, green or yellow mounds. Shimmering masterpieces of lemon-yellow and lime-green wreaths graced the tables of potlucks, showers, funerals, and holidays.

There is no shortage of these Jello salad recipes in my recipe box collection and I often wonder at which of these events the curator shared them.

This lemon jello salad recipe from Peggy’s recipe box must have been served often. It is encased in a plastic sleeve to protect it but clearly not before it directed the creation of many salads. It is covered with splotches and stains and at one point was used as a grocery list.

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Lemon Jell-O Salad mold on dark plate with parsley and pineapple garnishes and a jelly mold in the background.

Lemon Jell-O Salad

Prep Time: 15 minutes
Total Time: 15 minutes
Course: Fall, Salads, Spring, Summer, Winter
Cuisine: American
Servings: 10 slices
Calories: 248kcal
This is one of the many Jell-O-based salads that graced the tables of the 50s and 60s.


  • 1 (3 ounce) package lemon Jell-O
  • 1 (20 ounce) can crushed pineapple, drained juice reserved
  • 1 cup diced celery
  • 1 (8 ounce) package cream cheese, softened
  • 3/4 cup chopped walnuts
  • 1 cup heavy cream
  • parsley or lettuce for garnish
  • walnut meats for garnish
  • pineapple chunks for garnish


  • Place the Jell-O in a heat-proof mixing bowl.
  • In a medium saucepan, add reserved pineapple juice and bring to a boil.
  • Add heated juice to Jell-O, stir until completely dissolved, about 2 minutes. Allow mixture to cool but not set.
  • With a stand mixer or hand mixer on low speed, beat the cream cheese until creamy and whipped.
  • Add the cream and mix until combined.
  • Stir in the nuts, celery and drained pineapple.
  • Add the Jell-O to the cream cheese mixture and blend until combined.
  • Pour into a 6 cup mold and chill until firm.
  • Unmold on serving plate and garnish with parsley or lettuce, walnuts, and pineapple chunks.


Serving: 1g | Calories: 248kcal | Carbohydrates: 12.7g | Protein: 3.7g | Fat: 21.5g | Saturated Fat: 8.5g | Cholesterol: 41mg | Sodium: 191mg | Fiber: 1.5g | Sugar: 9.9g
Tried this recipe?Mention @theheritagecookbookproject or tag #theheritagecookbookproject!

Recipe Box Roulette

This recipe is from a social media game we developed called Recipe Box Roulette.  Find a family recipe box and play along.

The rules are simple.  Let your fingers wander over the recipes cards in the box, draw one at random, share it with us on FB Page or on your Instagram Feed. Remember to tag @theheritagcookbookproject and use the hashtag #recipeboxroulette.

Extra credit – make the recipe and share a photograph.


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