Jello and The Saga of the Restoration

I don’t really believe in coincidences since my last visit to Palmyra, New York, where I learned of the deep relationship between Jello and Mormonism

As we all know, Palmyra, New York is the location of the Sacred Grove, the Hill Cumorah, and the Joseph Smith, Sr. homestead where the Prophet Joseph lived during the dramatic opening days of the restoration.

It is little know by Latter-day Saints, however, that just a short way down the road from Palmyra sits the town of LeRoy, New York, a place that if not freighted with the eternal significance of Palmyra is still a spot picked by Destiny (or Providence!) for a truely significant event. For it was in the town of LeRoy that true Jello was first made.

Cooper.jpgLeRoy is not the site of the invention of Jello itself, as some local boosters will tell you. Gelatin, however, was invented by a New Yorker. Peter Cooper was an entrepreur and the owner of a glue factory. It seems to have been his wife (I was, alas, unable to locate a picture of the mysterious Mrs. Cooper) who first came up with the idea of eating the by products of the glue factory. In 1845, Mr. Cooper recorded the first ever patent for Jello. However, this miracle food remained largely unappreciated until 1897, when a genius in the town of Le Roy hit upon the idea of adding flavoring to gelatin.

Now the cynics among you may chalk this up to coincidence. But I can’t help but feeling that there is some great cosmic significance in the fact that both the Restoration and Jello arose within short distance of one another.

7 comments for “Jello and The Saga of the Restoration

  1. Julie in Austin
    February 23, 2004 at 8:18 pm

    Of course, the real issue here is whether Jello was invented, or Restored. Recent discoveries from the Elephantine indicate that not only did they have a non-Jerusalem-based temple, but they also possessed what the texts describe as a “meat like unto honey, save it were like unto amber in color, as it were in appearance a crystal, save not as like unto a rock, yea, verily, it truly was the fruit of the hoof.”

  2. cooper
    February 23, 2004 at 9:49 pm

    Maybe it was the patent of Gelatin that brought on the “Jello” frenzy of the members. However, as Julie states above Gelatin wasn’t invented. Euaropeans have had “Aspic” around for a long time. From the food encyclopedia:

    The exact time of the discovery of gelatin is not known, but considering it is derived after the boiling of animal skin and bone, it is quite likely to have been quite some  time ago. Whenever it was, it is certain that chefs utilised its wonderful setting properties to create gastronomic works of art, which were both pleasing to the eye and tempting on the palate.

    In England during the Victorian era (late 1800’s to early 1900s) Gelatine was widely used in both savoury and sweet dishes.  Cooks were renowned  for using fancy moulds in all shapes and sizes, from tall and fluted to  long and low and even some  in the shape of fish and other animals.

    Commercially produced gelatine appears to have started in Holland around 1685,  shortly followed by England in about 1700. The first commercial production of gelatine in the United States was in Massachusetts in 1808.

    I am sure the Green Jello definitely came from a Mormon household though.


  3. Aaron Brown
    February 23, 2004 at 10:14 pm

    Yes, Nate, but until you can derive relgious significance from the geographical location where carrots were first put into jello, I must remain a skeptic.

    Aaron B

  4. tp
    February 24, 2004 at 12:22 pm

    I don’t know about carrots, but I heard that when Moroni dedicated the ground to build the Manti temple, he travelled a few hundred feet and dedicated the ground where funeral potatoes would be invented.

  5. February 24, 2004 at 12:28 pm

    It is worth noting as well that Kool-Aid, which is much like Jello in that powder is converted to a tasty treat, was invented by Edward Perkins in Hastings, Nebraska which is along the Mormon Trail. Coincidence? I think not.

  6. Susan
    February 24, 2004 at 11:57 pm

    One of my most traumatic events in the church–the first Salt Lake, east bench Mormon ward I ever experienced. And the final straw was a Relief Society social. The theme: Jello. All of the dishes at the meal (except for the rolls and the punch) were jello: fruit jello, aspic, vegetable jello, shrimp jello, dessert jellos. And the theme of the event: Jello: jell well, lyrics about jello set to familiar tunes (you can imagine where it went from there). And the decorations:you guessed it, jello boxes et al. And the important discussions in planning for the event–color coordination of plates, food, etc. My feelings about the church have never been quite the the same since.

  7. lyle
    February 25, 2004 at 12:26 am

    Susan: I think what you were missing is the wonderful use of Jello powder as a coating for a nice banana. It allows you to have banana + the flavor of your choice. Perhaps this will restore your faith in the restored gospel of gello and the last days.

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