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Jell-O.                 more selected entries

In 1897 Pearle B. Wait of Le Roy (Genesee Co) introduced a new flavored gelatin dessert, which his wife, May Wait, named Jell-O. Although not the first prepared gelatin dessert, it became the most famous. The first four flavors were strawberry, raspberry, lemon, and orange. For two years, Wait prepared and packaged Jell-O but was unable to create a market for it. In 1899 he sold the rights for $450 to Orator Woodward, a successful Le Roy businessman and owner of the Genesee Pure Food Co. The first nationwide advertisement for the product appeared in magazines such as the Ladies' Home Journal during the spring of 1902. In 1904, 4-year-old Elizabeth King was introduced as the Jell-O girl. Her image appeared in advertising and on packaging for over 40 years. There was also Jell-O Ice Cream Powder and Jello-O Pudding, and as of 2003 the brand name was carried on 158 products. In 1923 the Genesee Pure Food Co became the Jell-O Co, which was acquired in 1925 by the Postum Co of Battle Creek, Mich, which became a subsidiary of General Foods in 1929. Jell-O advertising and recipe books were illustrated by such noted artists as Rose O'Neill, Maxfield Parrish, and Norman Rockwell, and after 1934, the product was promoted by Jack Benny in his weekly radio show. General Foods (now Kraft Foods) closed the factory in Le Roy in 1964 and moved production to Dover, Del. The Le Roy Historical Society opened the Jell-O Gallery in 1997, during the gelatin product's 100th anniversary.

Wyman, Carolyn. Jell-O: A Biography: The History and Mystery of America's Most Famous Dessert (New York: Harcourt, 2001)

Lynne Belluscio


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