The State That Eats The Most Jell-O Might Surprise You

Utah likes Jell-O. It's more than just an urban legend. The Beehive State, per capita, eats more of the "watch it wiggle, see it jiggle" brand of gelatin than any other state in the country. It's such a coveted cuisine for Utahans or Utahns if you're local, the state even made Jell-O's celebrity spokesperson, Bill Cosby, an honorary citizen (per The Atlantic). (That happened long before Cosby became a citizen of prison.) But the love affair between Jell-O and Utah doesn't end there. A member of the U.S. Senate, representing the state of Utah, usually hosts a weekly Jell-O Wednesday social for his constituents on Capitol Hill, as a nod to this favored food. And in 2002 when the state hosted the winter Olympics, the commemorative pin depicted a bowl of green Jell-O.

"America's most famous dessert" was born in 1897 and aptly named Jell-O by the wife of its inventor (via Jello Gallery). Fast-forward to the present day and according to Statista, in 2019, alone, 152.44 million Americans ate flavored gelatin desserts. We can only conclude Utah was leading the way. But seriously, who can resist a snack food that can satiate your sweet tooth and that only adds 70 calories per serving to your daily calorie intake (via Verywell Fit)? Still, if you are scratching your head and wondering why are the people populating Utah so smitten with this jiggly dessert, we're with you.

Utah's official state snack is Jell-O

Seriously, why not California, Texas, or New York? All three have significant populations, but that special feeling Utah has for Jell-O is simply in a league of its own. Some people like to claim that Jell-O became popular in Utah because it boasts such a large population of Mormons – 62 percent, according to Business Insider – and Jell-O is one of the few vices they can indulge in; however, we think it's a little too easy to go with this stereotyping. Could Jell-O be so beloved by Utah, instead, because Jell-O is awesome? Or is it, as Slate suggests, a result of a savvy marketing campaign?

In 1986, General Foods commissioned a market survey which revealed that moms with young kids were simply not fans of the product. The firm who conducted the survey suggested General Foods could capture this demographic if it linked gelatin desserts to family and home life. Focus groups tested all types of recipes and stumbled upon Jigglers – they could be picked up and eaten with your fingers – perfect for toddlers and young kids. This set the stage for Utah, which also claims a spot on the list of states with the highest birth rates, to become the ideal target market to promote Jell-O as a treat for families. Utahans were quick to embrace this campaign and make a public declaration of their love for this wobbly gelatin, which later became the official state snack.