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The History of Jello
Jello Pictures

The History of Jello

"Peter Cooper, inventor of the famous locomotive "Tom Thumb" and patron of the arts and sciences, obtained the first patent for a gelatin dessert in i845. Gelatin itself, however, was discovered long before then. History’s first reference to it is in i682, when a Frenchman named Denis Papin recorded his research on the subject. His experiments resulted in a method of removing the glutinous material from animal bones by boiling. It has no taste, no odor, and, when combined with liquid, no color, but it is pure protein. The gourmet-minded French like their foods en gelee-and their word for it is gelatine. The preferred spelling is without that final e, whether you’re referring to flavored or unflavored gelata. Peter Cooper did nothing about his patent for a gelatin dessert, and neither did anyone else for fifty years.

In 1897 Pearl B. Wait was a cough syrup manufacturer in Le-Roy, New York, whose business was not going very well. So he decided to give up the cough syrup business and branch out into something new. He picked the food industry. People eat all the time, he reasoned, while they take medicine only when they are sick.


 For many years food manufacturers had experimented with gelatin, which is made from animal bones, but no one had been able to come up with a gelatin that was appealing. Gelatin looked bad, and it didn't taste very good, either. So Mr. Wait went to work. His answer was to add fruit syrup to gelatin. He named his new product "Jello." 

The new business had no competition, but, unfortunately, not enough people wanted to try Jello. Wait sold the business to Orator Francis Woodward, a neighbor, for $450. Later when Woodward tried to sell the Jell-O business, reportedly for only $35. And no one was interested in buying it! 

About 1900 a number of cooking experts discovered Jell-O and decided it was just the thing for an elegant meal. That changed everything. Jell-O began to appear at banquets and fancy dinners. In 1902, O. F. Woodward launches the advertising campaign, "America's most favorite Dessert" for JELL-O gelatin. Today, Jell-o is the largest selling prepared dessert and is known world-wide."  (


More than 1,134,239 packages of Jell-O gelatin are purchased or eaten every day.