Wednesday, August 10, 2016

Bright-Red, Jiggly Magic

After another week of checking the electric bill a couple times and trying to stay strong before caving in and flipping down the a.c., I'm ready for some cool and/or creamy dessert action!

Amazing Magical Jell-O Desserts (1977) promises pages of dessert recipes for kids (as if kids really need prompting to eat dessert!).

A big draw for this book is its whimsical illustrations. This opening for the "Family Desserts" chapter is a lot of fun:

The house has various gelatin and pudding-based desserts growing in the yard, like absurdist shrubberies while the dog chases... something red and yellow with a black tail... on wheels. (Just stay away from the little brown pile he left in the yard because it ain't chocolate pudding!)

If you're wondering about the top hat and the dessert being menaced by the disembodied mouth in the bottom corners, this collection is also a 2-way flip book. It's crazy in all different directions.

Anyway, let's get back to whatever that dog is chasing. It's a dessert too:

It's a Banana Wobbler-- a half-banana suspended in Jell-O and inserted with a piece of licorice if you want that firecracker look. The dog may seem to be in danger of getting hit by a vehicle or blown up by a firecracker, but he's only in danger of eating a cool and jiggly snack. 

The "Family Desserts" chapter opening left out a dessert that might have fit the picture a bit more naturally:

Ship Ahoy could have sailed around in the background if the picture just had a lake. This cute little nautical dessert could also be either a disappointment or a pleasant surprise to the person who asks "What's for dessert?" and mishears the answer. Whether it's the former or the latter depends on one's feelings about fruit pieces on gelatin and packaged chocolate chip cookies.

The "Snacks" chapter opening is bare in comparison to "Family Desserts," but perhaps as bizarre:

I imagine it's hard to bat with an enormous popsicle, and it's got to be pretty messy sliding into any base that's composed of a bar cookie or ice cream sandwich....

It's not always easy to tell what sets a "snack" apart from a "dessert," but I'm not sure it matters.

You've got to appreciate the commitment to diversity in the Smilin' Snacks. We not only have chocolate and vanilla, but also pistachio to represent the ... witch ... or maybe alien ... community.

As you may have gathered, most of the recipes are not huge surprises, combining fruit, gelatin, pudding, and/or whipped topping in endless variations, but a few are unexpected:

Bright-red Magic Letter Balls look kind of like uncooked meatballs if I'm trying not to be too disgusting and excised tumors if I'm being gross. The raisins making those dark spots do NOT help make these look less tumor-y. I'm sure they just taste like Alpha-Bits with a fruity sugar coating, but I'd rather use them as props in my new horror film, Night of the Living Tumors.

I should start casting that soon. If you're interested in letting me pretend to surgically remove wads of sentient cereal treats from your disease-riddled body, let me know. 


  1. That banana wobbler looks like a stick of dynamite, that poor dog! Also, Alpha-Bits rolled in Jello & Caro syrup sounds sickly sweet. Oh, alliteration!

    1. I was thinking the Alpha-Bits would be more like Rice Krispy treats, but you might be right. After all, Krispy treats only have marshmallows and butter for glue. Jell-O and Karo syrup are both sugars with nothing to cut them (aside from already-sweetened Alpha-Bits).