Aspics have been meal staples for centuries. Gelatin, made from thickened meat broths, are packed with cooked meat inside. Additional herbs and seasonings can be added to the gelatin to enhance the flavor.
It is a decorative way to present a meal. It is a texturally interesting way to present a meal. Most importantly, it was a safe way to preserve a meal for a few hours at room temperature.
Aspics flourished in the United States in the early half of the twentieth century, slowly losing favor from the 1950s forward. Their popularity dwindled proportionately to the availability of convenient refrigeration. Make of that what you will.
The former popularity of aspics meant that many 1960s households had unused gelatin ring molds, though. Well, unused for a little while. The people behind Jell-o brand desert gelatin were pleased to discover that home cooks had shifted to using their ring molds to make dessert gelatin rings, usually with fruit inside.
That’s when they had their idea. Rather than simply accept that people were making Jello salads, why not market to them?
Jell-o for salads was introduced in the 1960s with such delicious flavors as Celery, Mixed Vegetable, Seasoned Tomato and Italian Salad. It… didn’t last long.
Nor did Cola Jell-o (1942). Nor Coffee Jell-o (1918). Nor Imitation Apple Jell-o (1950s).
Aspics aside, some things just should not be made into gelatin desserts. This is just one more time where I praise the free market system. It allows people with ideas like Celery Jell-o to bring them to store shelves, and allows people to buy the Cherry flavor instead and condemn Celery flavor to an early and well-deserved demise.
Question of the night: What’s your favorite odd candy flavor?