Whatever Happened To Jell-O 1-2-3?

No matter if you're topping it with your favorite whipped cream brand or baking a cake with it, there's no denying that Jell-O has been a staple of American kitchens for many years. With a history dating back to 1897 as a home-brewed experiment with gelatin (via JELL-O Gallery), the fruit-flavored powder's use has expanded into everything from pudding cups to pie filling, making it a pretty versatile and delicious treat, as the Kraft Heinz Foodservice website attests. 

Considering how long this jiggly dessert has been around, there are a few products that you may or may not remember ever digging into. Jell-O once released "Pudding Bites" back in 2004, which were fruit snack-like chews that tasted like its popular pudding — although these were met with poor reviews, such as this one via The Spokesman-Review. There were even a few more wild and wacky flavors of Jell-O — Italian salad-flavored Jell-O, anyone? — that are no longer in production (via 11 Points). 

One of the brand's most famous discontinued products is Jell-O 1-2-3, a dessert that could supposedly "split" into three distinct layers using only one packet of powder, according to Food52. Jell-O 1-2-3 doesn't seem to be anywhere these days except in the advertisements of days gone by. Just what exactly was this unique dessert, and where did it go?

Jell-O 1-2-3 was a 'high-class Jell-O dessert'

A cup of Jell-O that splits itself into three layers? What exactly does that mean? Well, according to a commercial for the bygone product, a young boy stares in amazement as his cup of Jell-O splits into a "creamy layer" on top, a "fluffy layer" in the middle, and a layer of "fruity gelatin" on the bottom. The instructions, per Food52, involved using a blender to combine the powder with both boiling and cold water at different intervals and speeds — a complex task just for Jell-O. The layers form during a three-hour fridge break before the "dressed-up" Jell-O is finally ready. 

But why did a Jell-O that could separate itself into layers with cream and fluff fade away? Let's answer that question with another question: Would you want Jell-O that requires multiple precise steps and a three-hour wait? While traditional Jell-O requires a four-hour wait, it only needs one simple step to cook it (via Kraft Heinz Foodservice). Thus, Kraft "overestimated Jell-O's appeal," Food52 writes, and began to withdraw Jell-O 1-2-3 from shelves in the mid-1980s before discontinuing the product in January 1996.

If you are wondering how Jell-O 1-2-3 tasted, FoodJunk taste-tested a 24-year-old box of the strawberry-flavored dessert and described its taste as "both cardboardy and plasticky." In case you want to try an updated version of Jell-O 1-2-3 that's not 24 years old, Kraft offers a recipe for the long-discontinued three-layered parfait that only takes 25 minutes.