Before we knew about the unsavory animal origins of traditional gelatin (a gelling agent made from boiling the skin, tendons, ligaments, bones, and even hooves of cows, pigs, or horses), we might have picked up a box of Safeway’s “Jell-well” gelatin dessert.
Savvy shoppers now choose to use my innovative ChillOver Powder—it’s vegan, but ends up like gelatin, sets up in half the time gelatin does, seals in flavors more quickly, and doesn’t melt at room temperature. (It’s fantastic for making jams, far superior to pectin, etc.)
But being a Utah native, where residents eat twice as much gelatin as anyone else on the planet and a staple of every community potluck was “gelatin salad”—a concoction of lime gelatin with grated carrots and celery trapped inside, topped with Miracle Whip—I’m genetically inclined to wax nostalgic about all things gelatin.
Like my propensity for collecting vintage gelatin molds:
… and decorating with them:
And, if you have any idea of how hard it is to choose and trademark a product name (I was once told I couldn’t use my own name on my magazine because of Mary Jane candies (read more about them here) and Mary Jane and Friends bread, a southern grocery-store brand), you’ll know I was amused to learn this bit of trademark history:
In 1927, when Jell-well tried to stop Jell-X-Cell from using that name as a trademark, they were overruled by provisions of the “Trade-Mark Act,” which forbade registration of words or devices “which are descriptive of the goods with which they are used, or of the character or the quality of such goods.” In the case, the judge ruled that “One of the prime objects and indispensable qualities of the substance is that, when it is changed by manipulation and the addition of water into a form available for use as an edible substance, it must ‘jell.’ To my mind, the words are so plainly descriptive of a natural and necessary quality of the concoction as to relieve the question of any doubt whatsoever.” He went on to say, “With the whole field of possible coinage before them, it is strange that merchants insist upon adopting marks that are so nearly descriptive.”
I was finally able to trademark MaryJanesFarm by removing the apostrophe and smooshing it all together in one word, thereby stylizing it and making it a recognizable logo instead of merely a name. (Important life lesson: If you’re persistent and imaginative, there are usually ways around the “rules.” It helps to be a Taurus—we’re known for our persistence, sometimes called “stubbornness.”)
If you’re gaga for the good old days of gelatin schmaltz too, how about this retro kitsch t-shirt from Zazzle.com?
Or this morsel of Utah lore:
Utah residents like gelatin so much that when Utah hosted the 2002 Winter Olympics in Salt Lake City, one of the official pins was a green gelatin jiggler in the shape of the state.
Or this fun appearance of gelatin in the movies:
In the 1959 movie, Some Like It Hot, Jerry, played by Jack Lemon, says with awe when watching Sugar Kane Kowalczyk, played by Marilyn Monroe, “Will you look at that! Look how she moves! It’s like Jell-O on springs. Must have some sort of built-in motor or something.”