Warm Water Is Your Ticket To Getting Jell-O Out Of The Pan

Despite disparaging comments like "boomer" being hurled at older generations, Millennials and Generation Z are embracing the styles of the 1950s and 60s, making what was old new again. Midcentury modern furniture, bellbottom jeans, and food trends during those decades are popular once more.

Food trends during those decades revolved around convenience food new to the market. Thanks to canned soup, tuna noodle casserole was a weeknight staple in many homes, as was chicken ala king, both using the cream of mushroom soup. Parties in the 60s likely served fondue, a communal bowl of melted cheese that has gone extinct thanks to Covid-19. According to Good Housekeeping, one of the biggest trends during the 50s and 60s was Jell-O salad, allowing home cooks to showcase their creativity by suspending everything from fresh pineapple to shrimp in gelatin.

Jell-O sales have wavered over the years. Marketing campaigns like the catchy jingles "Watch it wiggle, see it jiggle" and "There's Always Room for J-E-L-L-O" plus new product launches like Jigglers in the 1970s have resurrected the brand per What's Cooking America. While Jell-O molds have been a mainstay on holiday dinner tables for generations for certain families, there's evidence of a "gelatin renaissance" on the horizon. With a modern approach to this kitschy dessert trend, it's time we all flexed our artistry in the kitchen with a Jell-O mold (hold the shrimp). Before you bring one to your next potluck or present it at a family dinner, here's what you need to know.

The gelatin renaissance

The Jell-O brand name has been synonymous with gelatin desserts like Kleenex for tissues; however, there are Jell-O substitutes that produce the same jelly-like features. According to Today, Asians have used agar or kanten to make their beautiful gravity-defying viral trends like the Japanese summer dessert, raindrop cake, or 3D flower cakes. For gelatin artist Elrod, these molds are "the perfect combination of whimsy and nostalgia."

According to All Recipes, today's gelatin trends transform any liquid- "wine, your favorite juice, sweetened condensed milk, or even ice cream" into jiggly fun. Modern Jell-O is layered, alternating a creamy and opaque layer using thick liquids like sweetened condensed milk or ice cream and a bright, transparent layer like citrusy yuzu.

Celebrity chef Alex Guarnaschelli demonstrated her creativity with a raspberry mint "jelly" cake using six boxes of Jell-O, fresh raspberries, and a red wine reduction. On Guaranashchelli's Food Network show "The Kitchen" via Twitter, Guarnaschelli layers a Bundt pan from the bottom up since the cake will be inverted when presented. While some bakers line their molds with plastic wrap for easy removal, plastic wrap can leave unsightly wrinkles on the surface. Instead, Guarnaschelli places the mold in a large bowl and carefully pours hot water around the pan, coming to the top without touching the gelatin. After 10 seconds, the pan is lifted and dried before flipping the loosened mold onto a platter in one swift motion and a prayer. Repeat this process if the gelatin doesn't release.