1950s Jell-O Salads | EYC Student Project of the Month (Feb 2024)

Feb 13, 2024

This month, two students in History Teacher Brian Chervitz’s US History class, Lily L. and Max G., brought history to life by recreating Jell-O salads from the 1950s. During their lessons on cultural shifts in the 1950s, the Space Age, students learned about the growing consumer culture, technological advancements, and changing gender expectations for the generation of Americans post-World War II.

In their class, they examined primary source documents of Jell-O advertisements from the 1950s to deduce the appeal of the gelatin meals: the time they saved, the modernity they represented, their cost-effectiveness, and their ease of use. Max and Lily discussed the advertisements, as well as information from food historians about what Jell-O represented for 1950s consumers. It was a great way to provide a concrete example for some of the abstract historical trends that they were learning about in their lessons.

The following school day, Max, Lily, and Brian made their own Jell-O salads using equipment from the Culinary Arts class. They were going to bring their learning to life and eat it! The students prepared a whipped cream, lime, and pineapple salad as well as a cream cheese, cherry, celery, and pineapple salad. Needless to say, the students were doubtful about the results of their hard work, specifically the taste. But Brian was proud of their hard work to recreate these recipes.

After the Jell-O had set, students shared their creations with their peers during lunch, though it may not surprise anyone that not many students tried a bite, but Max and Lily did! Teachers Amanda, Brian, and Shari each tried a few bites, and Amanda even took some leftovers home! Other students had a few funny comments about the color and texture of the Jell-O salads.