Recently while out of state, I attended a dinner party hosted by some old friends. After dinner, desert, and a period of vegetation, a series of games began. We had typical card games for those traditional types, Guitar Hero for the electronically coordinated, and a heated game of monopoly for the fiscally minded. Somehow during this time, someone proposed a Jello-O eating contest to which I say—don’t ask. Long story short, I won. Apparently their high school career of Jell-o shots couldn’t compare to my lifetime attendance of Mormon birthday parties, weddings, and funerals. For any out-of-state readers, Jell-O is the mainstay of any Utah social gathering and the icon of our weird culture—in fact, the official Icon. In 2001 the Utah Legislature voted Jell-O, with all of its glossy sheen and incandescent colors the official snack food of Utah. Also on the ballot sat another Utah favorite: ice cream. But as Senator Gene David argued, “Ice cream is not sexy. It’s not wiggly and jiggly.” I must say, I agree. The sultry shine and jovial bounce of Jell-O definitely says “Fun with Food” much more than sticky melting ice cream, regardless of any minty flavors or accompanying chocolate sauce.
And why shouldn’t Jell-O enjoy precedence over other Utah snacks? It’s such a versatile product; regardless of the occasion there’s a Jell-O recipe to match. Take the following examples: For a multi-cultural celebration, no need to run to IKEA for Swedish meatballs or Gualverto’s Mexican for fajitas, keep it simple and make a Jell-O Bavarian cream. Or for any weekend bash, throw out the traditional chex-mix and make everyone’s favorite Pretzel Jell-O, the combination of crunchy pretzels, velvety satin cream cheese, and strawberry Jell-O. Throwing a baby shower? No problem. Prepare for motherhood with Lemon Snow Salad: Blend 1 can pineapple, 2 large jars of junior baby food delight (that's right, baby food), cream cheese, evaporated milk (not sweetened) and of course, lemon Jell-O. Yummy!
While I would like to report these recipes are figments of my imagination, I have to admit I’m not that creative. They’re legit—straight outta mormomchic.com. That’s right, Mormon housewives and party planners alike are making these delightful little deserts and apparently feel the need to share the recipes on the wonderful world-wide-web. As a native Utahan I feel obligated to support the state’s decision and endorse their love of Jell-O—I just hope we’re not judged for it…
In the end while other states like New York and Maine enjoy the blueberry, Georgia the peach, and Florida the Orange, I will love and embrace our state elected food of Jell-O. So for all those out-of-state, you may choose what food you will, but as for me and my state, we’ll choose Jell-O.
For those interested in sources, and recipes: