Saturday, October 16, 2010

Breaking the Mold

If you frequent my facebook page, you know that my wife’s family loves Jell-O.  Yes, the same jiggly neon slime you remember as a kid. The stuff poor people eat when they can’t afford milk to make pudding. The token dessert for cafeterias too cheap and lazy to serve a real treat.  Jell-O, right up there with fruit cake and flan as far as horrible desserts go, yet they absolutely LOVE it!

But that’s not the weird part. The real problem I have with their affinity for the rubbery goo is that they don’t consider it a dessert. They treat it as a side dish. It's served right next to the baked beans and potato salad at picnics.  It’s eaten WITH the holiday meal rather than after it.  Apparently they misconstrued the ad’s claim that “There’s always room for Jell-O,” to mean right alongside the entrée. I learned this the hard way, when trying to be helpful at my first family function, took it upon myself to move the Jell-O over to the dessert table (where it belonged) and was nearly stabbed with a serving fork by an aunt waiting behind me.

 “Oh, this isn’t cranberry sauce,” I politely explained, misinterpreting her anger. “It’s just Jell-O.”

“Just Jell-O?” she seethed, ripping it from my hands and returning it to its rightful place between the turkey and the green bean casserole. “This isn’t JUST Jell-O, it’s Cousin Patty’s Jell-O…”

“Oh,” I said, confused. Even though I was still learning all their names, I was pretty sure Cousin Patty lived out if state. “I didn’t realize Cousin Patty was here…”

“She’s not. She lives in Florida,” answered the aunt, matter of factly.

Now I was even more confused. “So, what, did she, like, send the Jell-O?”

“No!  Don’t be ridiculous. We always have Jell-O in her honor.”

“But not as a dessert?”

At this point the aunt gave up on me, spooned some Jell-O onto her stuffing, and walked away muttering about my wife’s taste in men.
            As if her taste in food was any better!
Chances are this will be the last entry I ever post. It may even be the last you hear of me…until the news reports of the unidentified body found encased in Jell-O start to appear. But even my dead body would not be the weirdest thing these people have put in Jell-O! I have seen marshmallows, pretzels, peanuts, popcorn, and even sour cream (gross!) embedded in the stuff. Vodka in Jell-O? Good. Dairy products, not so much.

And the madness doesn’t stop there. My wife recently received a Jell-O pie that was meant for breakfast. Jell-O cookbooks and molds are commonly exchanged at Christmas.  And last summer’s inaugural Jell-O competition nearly ended in tears and accusations of cheating. All over something made from the boiled bones, connective tissues, and intestines of animals. Actually now that I see the ingredients, it’s starting to make sense why it’s served next to the hot dogs – they’re made from the same stuff!

Well, it was fun while it lasted. I expect the Jell-O mafia to show up within moments of me hitting “publish” – but I’m not afraid. I just learned about a secret weapon: pineapple! Turns out it contains an enzyme that prevents Jell-O from setting, so let’s see them try and stop me now!


  1. Great post! "The stuff poor people eat when they can’t afford milk to make pudding." HILARIOUS. You should take David Sedaris' job.

  2. First of all, thats not even a good Jello picture, Second of all Jello pie is tecnically a dessert, and Third FRESH pinapple wrecks jello, you can used the canned stuff ( and we do) with no problems!!!! :)

  3. Who put popcorn in jello? That's just psychotic.

    And don't be hating on the sour cream. Cuts the sweetness, and really is the element that makes it suitable for the main course table.

    Yes, Patty, I have had canned pineapple in jello as well. And while jello pie is certainly a dessert (as opposed to jello SALAD - hello!?! Salads don't go on the dessert table...), just like pumpkin pie, it makes a fine breakfast as well.

  4. Indeed Sue, most pies do makes a deelish breakfast, but I doubt the accomplished Jello Master who presented said pie to Mrs Wood said "Here, I made breakfast" as our blogger has implied!!!!!

  5. Well, no of course not. I'm sure the Jello Master simply presented the Jello treat and Mrs. Wood correctly intuited that it would be equally delicious as dessert or breakfast.

    And by the way, how can someone not like flan?? Especially with a nice caramel sauce, or a nice orange sauce. That's it, I just may have to make one - where is Christmas this year???

  6. I did not read your whole story because I am just THAT tired...but plan on it. Any story that starts out talking about Sarah's family and their love and obsession for jello has got to be good.



  7. I, for one am happy that someone in this family also was perplexed by the wiggly matter on the Buffet table.
    I could not leave well enough alone and told my full-blooded Italian aunt. It went like this:
    Me: They had Jello as a side-dish along side the Lasagna
    IA: Jello? Whata isa jello?

    Me: You know Jello. The stuff that wiggles and is different colors?
    IA: Ahhh. I nevea hearda such a ting ina my whola life. Next to-ah macaroni? (hand over heart)
    Me: Yes, On the buffet table and they eat for dessert too. They put stuff in it.
    IA: Madonna mia, Maybe you shoulda maka thema a nice-a sausage & peppers and Ricotta cake. Becausa I tell you righta now jello is no-ah food!

    Great blog topic. I knew you would do it justice.

  8. I have one thing to say to you Mr. Wood...match in the gas tank..BOOM...BOOM!!!!!

  9. um. your wife's family is weird. Just sayin'. Though I think your wife herself is charming. minus the jello fetish.

  10. Megan, Mr Wood hasn't even touched on the "WEIRD family issues" ( starting with how 'the family' takes care of people who call US names :>( ) ...

  11. You are all insane!

  12. I buy my jello already made in little cups for 40x the price of what you would pay for a box that you have to add hot and cold water too. Now I feel very lazy about that.