June 7, 2011

This past year Lee was given a book that has been in big hit in our office. The Gallery of Regrettable Food by James Lileks is one of those books that is sure to horrify the most discerning foodie. We have wanted to do a blog on it for some time now but we didn’t quite have the context that we wanted, until now.

We were especially drawn to the chapter, “It’s the 1950’s and Everyone’s Human but Mom!” Why you may ask? Well, we are always shocked and mildly amused with advertising from this era and how the woman was portrayed back then as happy at home, especially when she wears heels while vacuuming. I have never vacuumed in heels and maybe it is the one way to make that chore seem less annoying. But I digress.

Jello-O ad 1952

The real treasure of the book lies in the pages where Jell-O is highlighted. No, we aren’t just enamored with the molds but also with the interesting “goodies” that people have decided to add to the Jell-O, like radishes, cucumber, tomato and cauliflower. What a colorful yet savory dessert! Yum!

But…Jell-O isn’t just for adults.

Lilek says (tongue in cheek) “Jell-O is a young dessert. Cool and sparkling. Fresh and fruity. And the colors are pure pop art. (Next time you pour boiling water on the powdered gelatin, just watch those colors come alive.) Yes, Jell-O is a bona fide participant in the youth culture, in the nationwide enshrinement of randy, sensation-craving, dope-addled monkeys as the arbiters of what matters. The colors ARE coming alive! Wow!…”

“What flavor was that again? Oh, right: red flavor.” (Red dye #2, no doubt.)

Don’t believe me? Take a look at the new generation of Jell-O lovers. These molds and flavors are really interesting and unique but in a fascinating and entertaining way.


Culinary “events” have become big business. The English team of Bompas and Parr have put Willy Wonka to shame by reinventing Jell-O molds into works of art. Some of them are architectural wonders like the Houses of Parliament!

Ann Charlott Ommedal