A hundred years of jiggling
By Donna MacMullin
It wiggles, it jiggles and it's so much fun there's always room for Jell-O!
Whether you remember Jell-O as the bane of a hospital visit, or enjoy it in its electric capacity, North America's favourite dessert is celebrating its 100-year anniversary this year.
The crazy concoction was invented in 1897 by an entrepreneur in LeRoy, New York named Pearl Wait when he decided to add fruit flavouring to granulated gelatin, said Lynne Belluscio, director of the historical society in LeRoy.
"Wait later sold the rights for $450 to Orator Woodward, who built the product into a $1 million business within eight years," she added.
Today Kraft Foods continues the business and has introduced many different flavours and products over the years though strawberry remains a favourite. "To commemorate the 100th anniversary they have introduced a new flavour called sparkling white grape," Belluscio said.
From Jell-O Pops to Jell-O Jigglers, Generation Xers are not the only ones to have indulged in this tasty treat. During the Depression, Jell-O was a popular food ration and throughout the years the stuff has seen many outlandish moulds and salads.
Apparently Jell-O is useful in the scientific world too. "In the '70s a doctor at McMaster University did tests on a bowl of green Jell-O and found by measuring wavelengths when the bowl was jiggled, that they matched the wavelengths found in the brain," Belluscio said.
So just what is Jell-O made of? They take the skin and bones of animals and put it in a big vat and cook it up leaving a simple protein called collagen which is purified and made into gelatin, said Len Piché, professor in the department of home economics at Brescia College.
Because Jell-O is made from gelatin, it is considered a good source of protein. "But it should not be used as one's sole source of protein because it is missing one of the amino acids," he said. "Especially for growing children and pregnant and lactating women."
Patients in hospitals are often given Jell-O because of its consistency more than anything because it's easy to swallow, Piché said.