Jell-O for the holidays? In the 1930s, festive molds competed with cookies on many holiday buffets. Jack Benny and Mary Livingstone, hosts of a radio hour sponsored by Jell-O helped hostesses with ideas in Jack and Mary’s Jell-O Recipe Book (1937, reprinted by Coachwhip Publications). One of my favorite sections lists fruits that sink and fruits that float in Jell-O. Since I’m making Jell-O desserts for a talk I’m giving about the unexpected history of Christmas recipes this week, I wanted to experiment.
Here’s the result of floaters (sliced bananas) and sinkers (peaches) and in lemon Jell-O. Though the bananas stuck to the bottom of the serving plate, it was fun to play with such sunny colors on a December day. This list should help you experiment with your own combinations! To learn more about the history of Jell-O visit the Jell-O Gallery Museum near Buffalo, NY, where this dessert was invented.
Fruits to Add to Jell-O (1937)
Make your own layered mold by dissolving Jell-O (any flavor) in hot water. Turn into a mold and add one fruit of each type. Chill until the Jell-O sets before un-molding.
Fruits that sink:
Canned blackberries and raspberries
Fruits that float:
Fresh grapefruit and orange sections
Sliced fresh peaches
Sliced fresh pears
Halved fresh strawberries
Broken nut meats (chopped nuts)