Saturday, March 31, 2018

Big Surprise: For General Foods, Easter = Jell-O

The General Foods Kitchens Cookbook (the Women of General Foods Kitchens, second edition, 1959) sends Bonnie Bunny to wish us a hoppy Easter!

Okay, I made up Bonnie's name, but I like her perseverance in decorating an egg that's nearly as big as she is, even though one of her legs is clearly misshapen and waaay longer than the other. Plus, she insists on using a palette to mix her paints, even though she's only got spring green. She means business!

What does Bonnie suggest for a special springtime meal? Well, it depends on whether you're a kid or a grownup. If you're a kid, Bonnie thinks you should get ready for eating all that Easter candy by preloading some sugar:

Can you guess what kind of a salad a Bunny Salad might be? If you guessed it's like chicken salad, but made out of rabbit, I like your sense of humor, but you're not thinking like a '50s children's salad maker.

Of course Bunny Salads are excuses for eating Jell-O and not having to call it dessert. The salad molds are filled with carroted pineapple and served on lettuce, so the marshmallow bits used to turn them into bunnies certainly don't turn this into dessert.

Okay, Strip Sandwiches are open to interpretation, as there is no recipe. Let's just assume that it's a kids' favorite, like PB&J, cut into strips. Similarly, Lime Pears are left to our imaginations, but I'm kind of wondering if this is code for canned pears in lime Jell-O-- a meal featuring two canned fruits in desserty gelatin.

Then for dessert (because all the other sugar has been in salad form so it doesn't count!), there are Rainbow-Witches. If I didn't know the term was from a '50s cookbook, I'd hope it referred to witches getting ready to lead the gay pride parade for supernatural entities.

In this case, it's just chocolate wafers sandwiched around dyed Dream Whip and frozen.

Once the kids wash that all down with some nice chocolate milk, they should be ready to tear into their jelly beans, marshmallow peeps, and chocolate bunnies!

The grownups aren't expected to dine on carroty Jell-O themselves. They get their own menu, which, like the children's, is convenient to make ahead.

Yeah, the "like the children's" bit is meant as foreshadowing. If you suspected it might suggest that the grownups were supposed to eat Jell-O too, you were right. The lobster salad, unlike the bunny salad, contains its namesake ingredient:

But it gets served in what many would now consider a crime against avocados:

The adults get their lemon Jell-O filled with pimiento and avocado, then topped with lobster salad. Yay?

The side of potato chips is made a bit more elegant by the book's insistence that they be heated. (Can you imagine arranging gelatin-avocado rings topped with lobster salad on the buffet table just before pulling a tray full of gently-warmed potato chips out of the oven? Easter in General Foods-Land must have been a real hoot!)

The dessert of Easter Ricotta Pie sounds comfortingly cheesecake-like:

Of course, it's filled with Grape-Nuts and candied fruit, so don't get too excited.

Happy Easter! I'm sure you're disappointed that I posted these recipes too late to make for the holiday, but there's always next year. 😄

Now go put on your best referee shirt and trade eggs with your mom (Don't mention her overly bendy arm!) while your siblings dig around in the furniture.


  1. As soon as they add candied fruit, I immediately flashed back to those nasty holiday fruit cookies. I guess I'm still a kid because I wouldn't touch the adult food.

    1. Yeah-- the kids seem to be getting a better deal in this one.

  2. I suspect an Italian person wasn't involved in creating the Ricotta pie recipe. We have it every year. It's very lemony and creamy. My mother puts a single marachino cherry in the center

    1. It's good to know that the real deal is better than this!