Jell-o first hit the scene in 1895. Flopped. Patent sold and resold. In 1923, it was sold to a fledging General Foods corporation. The landscape of dessert was forever changed. Housewives rejoiced. A quick and speedy dessert. A modern convenience to be molded. Decorated. Bespeckled with fruit.
My Grandparents were married in 1943. The Great Depression was receding. World War II was brewing. The Glenn Miller Orchestra was at the top of the charts. A bottle of Coke costs 5 cents. Janis Joplin, Chevy Chase and John Major were born.
And a young girl named Franny was dying to try out a dessert that was all the rage.
My Nana was all H.E.L.L.O dear J.E.L.L.O.
She made her first ever bowl of Jell-o for my Grandfather. Maybe it was on a Sunday. A special treat. The two of them in a tiny house. My Grandfather’s belly full from one of her fabulous dinners. Her graceful hands setting a blue pyrex bowl of jiggling green in front of him. Lime Jell-o.
He raises his spoon. Tentatively pokes it. Takes a bite. Perhaps there’s a twitch in his eye when he swallows. A grimace at the weird texture. The too tart flavor.
My Nana watching. On the edge of her seat. Her thick black hair pulled back from her face. She’s a new wife. Each dish served and loved is a feather in her cap.
Expectant. Eager. She asks “Do you like it?”.
He’s a new husband. Adores his wife. He wants her happy. So he says “Yes”.
And so set the course for the next 15 years. Every week. Bountiful bowls of lime Jell-o would spring to life in the kitchen. Dutifully, he’d eat.
780 bowls if she always averaged a bowl a week. 780 bites of love. 780 bites of “the things I do because I love you”.
Until finally, he begged – to have something different. She’s no longer a new wife. Her hand goes to her hip. A wooden spoon waves in his direction “But you love lime Jell-o.” No question. A statement.
15 years of marriage has created a home. Children. A rhythm. And honesty.
He told the truth. He hated it. Could. Not. Stand. It. He didn’t want to hurt her feelings. She was so proud of her lime jello.
I wonder if she laughed. Or threw something at him. If she was grateful to move on to a new dessert adventure. He never said if it was the lime or the Jell-o he couldn’t stomach.
She agreed to try something new. And his sun began to shine again. Compromise? Sweet revenge? She began making him strawberry Jell-o instead.