Here's What Jell-O Is Really Made Of

There have always been rumors floating around about the untold truth of Jell-O, even for those of us who grew up eating it at every family meal and celebration — after all, it was one of Grandma's favorite desserts. Well, it turns out that some of the rumors about how Jell-O is made are true, and it just might be one of those foods you'll never eat again after you know the ingredients

There's admittedly a lot to like about Jell-O. It's a cool, refreshing, light dessert to eat after a heavy meal, it's high in protein, and there's something fun about how it jiggles so much on your plate. You can even pack it full of fruit and turn it into something that is almost healthy. But the source of that jiggle might be the ingredient that makes you swear off Jell-O forever. 

Is Jell-O vegetarian?

Most desserts are vegetarian, and you may think the same about Jell-O. But it turns out that the secret ingredient in Jell-O is gelatin, which is made from animal products. 

More specifically, commercial gelatin is made from collagen, and contains cow and pig parts that are left over after the meat butchering process. That means hides (skin), horns, and bones (via Popsugar). 

If you've ever made homemade bone broth, you may be able to see where this is going. Cooking these collagen-rich animal bones in water infuses the liquid with protein, and, like homemade stock, this liquid becomes semi-solid and gelatinous once the collagen is rendered out and the liquid has cooled. 

To made gelatin, the skin and bones are boiled, cured, treated with chemicals, and filtered over the course of several weeks until all that's left is pure protein (via HuffPost). This is then dried and ground to make powdered gelatin. 

To make Jell-O, that gelatin is combined with sugar or an artificial sweetener, food colorants, flavorings, and other ingredients (via Healthline).

When you add hot water to the powder from your Jell-O packet, it reconstitutes the collagen, and when it's chilled, it takes on that squiggly, bouncing texture that it's so famous for. 

If you already love it, finding out how Jell-O is made might not change your mind about your favorite dessert, but for those on the squeamish side, finding out that Jell-O is made from cow and pig skin and bones might be a deal-breaker.