I've accumulated a lot of ridiculous books over the years - from thrift stores, flea markets, yard sales, and dumpsters - and I can no longer bear to horde their weirdness for myself. Presenting the first of an occasional series exploring the far corners of the Toon library - because the world must know!
Watergate. Jim Jones. ABBA. If you have any doubt that the 1970s were a confused, disturbing time, just look at what they were doing with Jell-O brand gelatin dessert. The New Joys of Jell-O is a glimpse into the void at the heart of a lost people. I don't want to give too much away, but the weak-stomached among you should know that sauerkraut makes an appearance...
The early parts of the book aren't too startling, offering standard Jell-O recipe fare. You got your parfaits, you got your fruit salads, you got your disorienting '70s food photography. Look into my Jell-O...you are getting...sleepy...
Sensual experimentation was big during the Me Decade. Instead of swinger scenes and key parties, timider souls opted for sophisticated Jell-O bacchanals where no desire was forbidden, except the desire to eat something besides Jell-O.
After the wild '60s, all the rules were out the window: of fashion, of politics, and of edibility. The New Joys of Jell-O really launches into the weirdosphere when it gets past the desserts and into the savory selections. To quote A Clockwork Orange, "It's enough to put you off your food." Click the dish names to see the recipes, and click the pictures to see bigger versions.
The only way this could be grosser is if it contained actual moose.
I'm no gazpacho expert, but I don't think the recipe traditionally calls for you to "break up with fork before serving."
Salmon Dill Mousse, Creamy Bleu Cheese Salad, Fresh Fruit Salad (L to R)
Make your special day even specialer with a glutinous buffet of shame. I now pronounce you gross and disgusting.
Molded Ham and Egg Salad
Nobody tell Hardee's about this one.
Spanish Tuna Salad
I'm told it's even better in Barcelona.
Glazed Hors d'Oeuvres
From the last chapter in the book, fittingly titled "Things You Never Thought Of". Even better would've been "Things You've Only Eaten In Your Nightmares".
Since you can't see much in the picture, it's worth emphasizing which sandwiches are recommended for the Jell-O treatment. Corned beef! Horseradish! Shrimp!
Despite the nauseating contents, The New Joys of Jell-O radiates a certain naive charm, with its optimistic belief in the power of Jell-O and its cheerful disregard for the limitations of the human digestive system. Also, how can you not love these clumsy attempts to make Jell-O seem "with it"? I think this blog post makes us the Internet's leading source for psychedelic Jell-O-themed art.
Although my stomach turned with every page, I learned a lot reading The New Joys of Jell-O. I learned that Jell-O can be a versatile, disgusting addition to any meal. I learned how America lost its way. And most of all, I learned that maybe sometimes, there isn't room for Jell-O.