The Fascinating Tale of Jell-o in an Article by Sarah E. Newton

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In 1992, in the 51st volume of Western Folklore, Sarah E. Newton published her article: “The Jell-O Syndrome”: Investigating Popular Culture/Foodways. In this piece, Newton discusses the history and impact of Jell-O, gelatin desert, in American foodways and pop culture since its establishment in 1897 (252). Without delay, Newton acquaints her intentions, as her thesis vows to use research to take readers on a cultural and historical journey—or “exotic byway” as she calls it (249), into the fascinating tale of Jell-O. Through that research, she is arguing the level or significance of Jell-O in American foodways, as she believes this “versatile” invention has not received the respect in the foodways department that she thinks it deserves (249). Newton starts off by referencing the large frequency in which Jell-O is used in American recipes. Newton defends these statements by pointing out the overwhelming usage of Jell-O as an ingredient for salads and desserts in numerous American cookbooks (250). This is a questionable approach. Although it is understandable to reference American cookbooks for the frequency of usage of an ingredient, a few books is not a big enough sample of the thousands that exist. Also, not all American families own cookbooks or use them on a regular basis as a reference for cooking, nor is it guaranteed that they use any recipes in the book that incorporate Jell-O. Lastly, Newton introduces Americans’ emotional bond to Jell-O, emphasizing the “fun” that

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