Those of us who are baby boomers know this jiggly dessert was once as American as mom, apple pie and baseball. Plus,
it was easy to make; cost pennies, and came in dozens of bright Technicolor flavors.
Of course, life in the ‘50s and early ‘60s wasn’t exactly a picnic either.
We didn’t have a pandemic, but we had the Korean War and the Cold War. On its heels was Joe McCarthy’s nasty
anti-Communist crusade and the blacklisting in Hollywood that followed; dangerous backstreet abortions, and only
the most rudimentary help for those battling mental illness. And, even though there wasn’t a name for it,
systemic racism permeated everything.
None of these events affected us.
We spent summer days riding bikes and playing tag and hide and seek and Cowboys and Indians. The phrase “play date” didn’t exist; we only knew that we had to be home in time for dinner. Inside, in our dens and living rooms and bedrooms, knees touched as we played with Barbies and plastic horses and jacks and coloring books. Saturday mornings were for watching cartoons on TV.
Now because of COVID-19, most of us are, and should be, very cautious.
At this writing, the virus has claimed 125,033 American lives and 495,000 deaths worldwide. Twenty-seven states are seeing an increase in new cases, with Texas, California and Arizona reporting new record numbers. Just as troubling, a growing number of those thought to have recovered are left with permanent and serious organ damage.
As for the Hubster and me, we’re doing our best to do everything right—wearing masks and socially distancing; washing our hands often, and getting outdoors for Vitamin D.
Luckily, leaving the house wasn’t necessary to make a Creamy Lime Jell-O salad.
I chose this recipe because it felt nostalgic, bringing me back to the simpler times from my childhood.
The lime really screamed the color lime, and besides, there was cream cheese and mayonnaise in the mix. Three cans of fruit cocktail in heavy syrup (and as I remembered, still not enough cherries) and chopped pecans topped off the ingredient list.
After finding the recipe, I started to wonder if other boomers recalled the Jell-O concoctions they loved from the time they were small. So, I posed that question to a closed Facebook group I’m in, one where many of the members are about
The first reply came in less than a minute. Ultimately, more than 200 folks posted their gelatin memories, including orange with mandarin oranges and pineapple chunks; strawberry Jello-O with 7-Up, and plain black cherry. Some still served the family recipe, often featuring Cool Whip and walnuts.
The lime salad I had called for a mold, but I had given mine away. That meant the end result didn’t look nearly so fancy as the pictures accompanying the recipe. My take ended up in a rectangular Pyrex dish, but I’m sure it tasted just as good. In fact, it was probably better because I added a cream cheese/whipped cream frosting on top, and then garnished that with lime green sugar sprinkles.
Just looking at this creation made me feel a little bit happier, and eating it made me feel good, too. Plus, it’s a lot cheaper than therapy, which I can’t go to now anyway.
What Jell-O salad do you remember from your childhood?
P.S. Here’s the recipe I used. For extra flair, mix four ounces of softened cream cheese; a pint of freshly whipped cream, and half a cup of powdered sugar together. Then, spoon and smooth on top of the salad.