Sleeper Hits or Retro Revolting? 14 Odd Recipes That Use Jello

Jill Caren

Retro desserts that you will not believe were popular on American tables. Every recipe features jello and the combinations may surprise you.

Categories History

Take a stroll down memory lane with these gelatin based recipes that have us scratching our heads. Some of these dishes graced American tables for decades, but we are glad they don’t anymore.

The origins of the jello salad come from a winning contest recipe from Mrs. John E. Cook back in 1904. She created a dish called “perfection salad” which won third place in a recipe contest hosted by Better Homes and Gardens. The recipe featured cabbage, celery, red pepper and green olives tossed into gelatin flavored with lemon and vinegar.

Sounds delicious right?

That salad set the stage for others to try their hand at other unique jello creations.

Glace Fish Mold

glace fish mold dessert
The Marginalian

We are guessing this tastes as gross as it looks, but back in the day, it was all the rage. Plain gelatin mixed with flaked fish, peppers, cucumber, onion and pimentos all shaped into a fish shape. Sounds delicious doesn’t it?

Emerald Cantaloupe

emerald canteloupe jello dessert
Curtin Publications, Inc., New York, NY ©1973

Who really wants to be healthy anyway? Let’s reduce the nutrition of the cantaloupe by adding some canned pineapple, lime gelatin and sugar.

Ham in Aspic

ham in aspic
Vintage Recipe Cards

Bet you thought jello was just for dessert! Well you thought wrong. This dinner creation takes a canned ham and encases it in plain gelatin. But don’t forget the olives and eggs – and prunes to make it authentic. Can you say yummy!

Ring Around The Tuna

ring around tuna jello meal
Joys of Jell-O Cookbook

Some think it is pretty – we are not sure what to make of it. Lime jello filled with cucumber, pimento, stuffed olives and tuna is quite the combination. It is like eating a meal and dessert all in one.

Lemon Salmon Tower

lemon gelatin salmon tower
Better Homes and Gardens Salad Book, 1958

Is it really salmon if it is not covered in lemon gelatin? Don’t forget the anchovies, sardines, and herring in sour cream to get the full flavor burst. This might be better served to your cat than your friends.

Cucumber Souffle

cucumber souffle salad with gelatin
Betty Crocker

At least there is no meat in this one. But lime gelatin and mayonnaise are just two things that don’t seem to go together.

Jellied Beef Mold

jellied beef roll
Farm Journal’s Country Cookbook

Not sure what they were thinking when they came up with this? Beef and pimento encased in gelatin sounds like an awful idea.

Sauerkraut Mold

sauerkraut mold
Vintage Recipe Cards

Maybe a hot dog topping in disguise? Sauerkraut mold features lemon gelatin mixed with sauerkraut, green onions and pimentos. For an added bonus, serve it with a mix of horseradish and mayonnaise.

Sequin Salad

sequin salad with lime gelatin
Click Americana

What were people thinking? While this may not look horrible – it is lime Jell-O filled with bits of vinegar-soaked cauliflower, pimento and onion. To us, that sounds like a horrible flavor combination.

Aspic Aquarium

aspic aquarium

This one gets points for creativity. Cucumber and carrot fish shapes are set inside lime gelatin. The layers of Hellman’s mayonnaise are the added element that really makes this a head scratcher.

Lime Cheese Salad

lime cheese salad

Just when you think things cannot get grosser, we find lime cheese salad. A delicious mix of lime Jell-O with onion, cottage cheese and mayonnaise. The gross factor is elevated with the seafood salad in the middle.

Bean and Mushroom Salad

bean and mushroom salad gelatin
Weight Watchers Recipe Cards

Bean and mushroom salad is kind of yucky on its own. But this dish adds in gelatin, pimento, watercress and more making it a whole new level of not so yummy.

Californian Jell-O Ring

californian jello ring

This one wins for ugliest dish for sure. But, people say that the mix of gelatin, prunes and lemon does not taste as horrific as it looks.

Veg-All Pie Plate Salad

veg-all jello pie plate salad
The Larsen Company

Imagine bringing this to Thanksgiving dinner? A can of Veg-All poured into lemon gelatin is a great way to get your daily veggies – while eating dessert. Top it off with tartar sauce or salad dressing for a taste boost.

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