April 29, 2014

In and Out of the Quad-Cities: May 2014 – May Be Jell-O

Contributed by Gail McPike and Toni Hall

Can we start off with a few thoughts on April? It was one heck of a month. We had a wedding in our family, a California celebration, a stop in Des Moines, a weekend wingding in Waterloo and a zillion other little adventures along the April way. Our own Gail won a couple of fiber-art awards. Toni and Current Trophy Husband (CTH) Phil drove down to Durant. Durant, Oklahoma that is; where the wind comes sweeping down the plains. We aren’t taking you there. Instead let’s hold hands and return to the comfortable confines of home sweet home, the QCA.

We’ve broached Mahjong before. In an article a couple of years ago, we confessed our wonderment of the game. For those of you who play on the internet, revisit the August 2012 edition of 50+ Lifestyles and our “Oh, the Games People Play” story. The truth is, we may have overplayed our Mahjong prowess in that story. After it appeared we had complete strangers call to ask our advice on the game.

We continue our fascination with the pastime. Actually, we host what underworld characters would call a “floating” Mahjong game. If this isn’t bad enough, allow us a moment of confession: During our “Mahjonging,” we eat Jell-O. We can’t help ourselves. There’s no way we could have known in it at the time, but…

We are products of the Golden Age of Jell-O.

Educational moment here: You don’t want to know what’s in gelatin. Let’s just say it’s not a chemical, we are talking 100 percent natural stuff. And, natural is good for you. Also, you will be delighted to know, Jell-O has been around since the 1400s. In the early days, the gelatin side-dish was strictly reserved largely for the Rich and Famous.

During the Victorian Era, the stuff really took off. Way back then, Charles Dickens, Arthur Conan Doyle and Benjamin Disraeli may have lifted a quivering spoonful of Jell-O in a rousting tribute to Her Royal Highness. But, there was a problem with the edible concoction; the poor folks couldn’t sink their gums into either plate or bowl of it.

Lack of refrigeration made early Jell-O more like a tepid glass of bad tasting Kool-Aid. The popularization of home refrigerators in the 1930s solved the problem. Jell-O started a march to the masses. Jack Benny became the radio spokesman for Jell-O. And, sometime around 1940, the little radio jingle “J-E-L-L-O” reminded our grandmas to grab up a packet or two.

Now to the Golden Age of Jell-O. This multi-color treat became the desert of a generation – OUR generation. By the time we came on the scene Jell-O was the everywhere. From church socials to the school cafeteria and back to the kitchen table, Jell-O was probably more American than… well apple pie or that freckle faced lad next door.

We had a smorgasbord of Jell-O flavors and recipes. According to CTH Frank, who insists he has all the facts all the time; back in our day Jell-O was available in apple, apricot, black cherry, regular cherry, black raspberry, grape, lemon-lime, mixed fruit, orange, orange banana, peach, pineapple-grapefruit, blackberry, strawberry, strawberry-banana, tropic fruit and for a short while celery. Imagine our parental units at the neighborhood grocery planning out their next big Jell-O surprise. Our moms and their PTA pals added cottage cheese, olives, peach slices, strawberries, and a mind numbing mix of no telling what else to our daily ration of Jell-O.

Now fast forward a half century. We’re seated around an antique card table with neighborhood friends Kim and Joie. Mahjong tiles are scattered before us. Somehow, the conversation turns to food. Jell-O sneaks out of some dark recess of our minds. Maybe it was a flashback to that little sing-song “There’s always room for Jell-O.” Either way, we started talking Jell-O deserts.

From that moment forward, Jell-O is a must serve at each of our weekly Mahjong gatherings. Based on research and CTH Frank’s extraordinary powers on the computer, there’s well over 106,000 recipes for Jell-O inhabit the internet. We’re set for life. Jell-O is the official desert of our little corner of the QCA Mahjong club.

We think you should think about Jell-O too. Here are a few amazing facts to consider:

According to researchers at St. Jerome Hospital in Batavia, New York, when a bowl of lime Jell-O is attached to an EEG Machine, the wiggly, jiggly motion of the gelatin mimics the brain waves of a normal adult man or woman. We didn’t claim to be normal, but just saying.

Jell-O lasts forever. There is no date code on a box of Jell-O. Even though we don’t recommend you try this, you could put a box of Jell-O in your kitchen cabinet today and not eat it until 2099. There is nothing to go bad. Just the same, don’t invite us to join you.

Finally, Jell-O is the “Official Snack Food” of the State of Utah. Yes indeed, Jell-O goes well with beautiful mountain scenery, magnificent vistas, rock arches and trips to the Great Salt Lake.

Let us urge you, next time you go to the store, stop by that Jell-O section. Select a couple of boxes and add some color to your life. Remember, April showers bring May flowers… But only you can bring home a box of Lime Jell-O. Happy Days…

Filed Under: Community, Humor