I know you’re full of the love of Jesus, but there’s always room for Jell-O

Today’s blog post was guest written by Alex Albright. Alex demonstrates his gift of hospitality with his talent for cooking and serving some great food with a side of snark. He’s as full of snark as his bakery concoctions are full of carbs. Alex could easily take down Betty Crocker three falls out of five. Today Alex will be examining the church pot-luck. Yum! Take it away Alex.

Hi all, I was asked to do a guest blog. I expressed some trepidation since strictly speaking I’m not a former fundagelical, but an ex-Mormon.  I was told I’d do fine and to find common ground. Since feeling self-superior and judging other denominations is off the table, that leaves pot lucks.

I’m given to understand that pot luck’s are fairly universal. Although I’m willing to bet fundagelicals serve more caffeinated beverages at theirs. There are four basic food types in the pot luck food pyramid.

At the “top” you have fast food. (“I completely forgot and picked up something on the way.”) Bear in mind this was before crock-pots, micro-waves, gel packs, and a basic understanding of food safety.

Then you have Grandma X’s “famous dessert”.  (“Caroline thinks her chocolate date cake is so good, I’ll show her.”) The passive aggressiveness made these tasty.

The next tier is pasta/ casseroles. (Carbs + <small amounts of> meat + Cream of mushroom + cheese =Feed a crowd on a budget) Not going to judge casseroles. Okay I will but it will probably be after having seconds.

And the foundation of our pot luck pyramid? Jell-O. Yes. Jell-O.  And that is the focus of this piece.

As if the unspeakable things done to Mr. Ed’s cadaver to create this gastronomical delight weren’t bad enough, Gladys, Hellen, Caroline and vast legions of harried housewives “improved” this classic food by adding the American home-cook trinity: cool-whip, cottage cheese, and Mayonnaise, along with any other detritus from the pantry, or refrigerator.

First up is Watergate salad. https://www.recipelion.com/Dessert/5-Minute-Watergate-Salad

I somehow suspect that the chefs at a five-star, luxury hotel, like the Watergate hotel did not use convenience foods in the preparation of their desserts.  Someone always brought this one, usually several someones. The more adventuresome “chefs” substituted lime or orange Jell-O for the pistachio. But what impresses me most about this recipe is that the cherry on top is an actual cherry.

Our next course, Orange gelatin salad. https://www.allrecipes.com/recipe/14465/orange-gelatin-salad/

Also, a classic, the flavor might be subject to change, but this was also guaranteed to make an appearance. You know this dish is fancy because its garnished with a sprig of mint.

Now, who’s ready or a big scoop of Calico Salad? https://vintage-ads.livejournal.com/3015280.html

The mayonnaise makes it creamy; the execution makes me queasy. Tomato juice, lemon juice, onion salt, and celery? This recipe has to be a Mormon recipe. Anybody else would have made a bloody Mary with these ingredients.

Our penultimate course is, Raspberry-pretzel, Jell-O salad. https://www.culinaryhill.com/raspberry-pretzel-jello-salad/

Okay, this one appeals to me. Hey, it’s a pot luck, some recipes are good. It’s not quite a cheesecake, but who has that kind of time?

Or I could have been lulling you into a false sense of security before serving you. Mt. Fuji King Crab salad.


Admittedly this one might be “too fancy for church”. But you have to admire the boldness of bypassing “good” or “traditional” crab salad recipes for the opportunity to use an automobile grade funnel in “food preparation” and the unspoken genius of frosting it with cream cheese.

Several questions about Jell-O salads remain unanswered, Are they appetizers? Are they dessert? Could they be the main course? Perhaps we’ll never know. But it’s pot luck take a little to be polite, pretend to like it and we’ll quietly swing by the golden arches on the way home.

Thank you for taking a glimpse into the past with me. No offense was meant to any of the home cooks who served these dishes and shared their time and resources for the sake of fellowship and/or one-upmanship. Except for you Caroline, I know your chocolate date cake is fancied up Duncan Hines and one day I’ll prove it.

Thanks for reading. If this gets enough likes and shares, I might be persuaded to serve up some dish on casseroles.

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