Holiday Buffet, Albuquerque, New Mexico, 1958

The candles are lit, the Christmas-ball Christmas tree centerpiece is in place and a very special dinner is served. At each end of the table, Lazy Susans offer carrot sticks, green olives and a half red cabbage studded with sputnik-style multi-colored toothpicks bearing olives, sweet pickles and pearl onions. On either side of the fatty ham being sliced (topped with Maraschino cherries and pineapple slices), a pyramid of carbs and roast turkey. Cranberry sauce served in paper cups, celery and cream cheese platter, potato salad and macaroni salad, lime Jell-O mold, and creamy pink Jell-O fish mold are also on the menu.

Since Jell-O was first introduced back in the late 1890s, countless molded concoctions, both sweet and savory, have been enjoyed at many a dinner and dessert table. There’s even a Jell-O Museum, in Leroy, New York, where Jell-O was manufactured between 1900 and 1964.

Jell-O has certainly always been a favorite of mine. Growing up, if there was a Jell-O mold on the table, it was a special occasion. But what exactly is Jell-O made of? As a kid I remember being told that it was made out of horse’s hooves. Not quite so. Gelatin is an animal product that comes from the collagen in cow or pig bones, hooves, skin and connective tissues. Just think! That means that the ham and Jell-O on this table are related, they’re cousins.

Here’s to you and the Jell-O molds on your holiday buffet