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Published:June 5th, 2008 12:39 EST
American Junk Food: Jell-O

American Junk Food: Jell-O

By Daniel Mabee

"There`s always room for Jell-O."

                                  - Peter Venkman, "Ghostbusters 2"

No matter where you are, you can probably find Jell-O. From school cafeterias, to hospitals, to prisons, to your neighbor`s refridgerator, the fruity desert is everywhere. As it turns out, it has been that way for a long time: at the turn of the century, Genesee Pure Food Company advertised Jell-O as the world`s most famous desert.

Gelatin has been used in foods since the 1800s. In 1845, American inventor Peter Cooper obtained a patent for a powdered gelatin, which was extracted from geese bones. In 1897, the patent was sold to man named Pearle B. Wait, who sweetened the powder and marketed it in four flavors: orange, raspberry, lemon, and strawberry. Jell-O had arrived.

Wait was unable to turn a profit, however, and in 1899 he sold his business to Orator Francis Woodward, owner of the aforementioned Genesee Pure Food Company. Woodward formed an army of salesmen to promote his new product by distributing free Jell-O cookbooks, and by 1904 the treat was nationally recongized.

Since then, the snack has undergone a wide variety of incarnations. In the 1950s, Jell-O was available in a variety of savory flavors, such as tomato, as a response to contemporary tastes. In the early 1970s, Jell-O 1-2-3, which separated into three layers as it cooled was released. The 1980s brought Jell-O Jigglers, dense gummi snacks, and Sparkling Jell-O, which was carbonated.

The snack has enjoyed a number of well-known advertising campaigns. Its trademark jingle, the musical J-E-L-L-O, was introduced in 1934. In 1964, America first learned that "There`s always room for Jell-O," and ten years later legendary comedian Bill Cosby became the company`s spokesperson.

Today, over 300 million boxes of Jell-O are sold each year, which is no surprise.

After all, there`s always room.