What’s Jello Made Out Of? The Wobbly Truth Inside!

The jiggly, wiggly treat known as Jell-O has been a beloved dessert for generations. Children and adults alike enjoy the unique texture and bright colors that Jell-O has to offer. But what exactly is Jell-O made of? In this article, we’ll explore the wobbly truth behind this popular dessert.

The Origin of Jell-O

Jell-O was invented in the late 1800s by a man named Pearle B. Wait. The story goes that Wait was experimenting with a type of gelatin dessert that he had learned about from his wife’s family. Wait partnered with a carpenter named Orator F. Woodward to create a powdered gelatin mix that could be easily prepared at home. They named their invention Jell-O and started producing it for sale in 1897.

What Exactly Is Jell-O?

Jell-O is a brand name owned by the Kraft Heinz Company. It is a type of flavored gelatin dessert that is typically sold in powdered form. To prepare Jell-O, the powder is mixed with hot water until it dissolves, then cold water and other ingredients are added. The mixture is then chilled in the refrigerator until it sets into a jiggly, wobbly dessert.

The Main Ingredients in Jell-O

The primary ingredient in Jell-O is gelatin, a protein that is derived from collagen. Collagen is found in the connective tissues of animals, such as skin, bones, and cartilage. Gelatin is produced by boiling animal bones and other connective tissues, then allowing the mixture to cool and solidify. This creates a gel-like substance that can be used as a thickener and gelling agent.

In addition to gelatin, Jell-O typically contains sugar, artificial flavors, and artificial colors. Some varieties of Jell-O also contain other ingredients, such as fruit juice, fruit pieces, or whipped cream.

The Nutritional Profile of Jell-O

While Jell-O may be a low-calorie dessert option, it is not exactly a health food. A typical serving of Jell-O contains very little protein and fiber, but a significant amount of sugar. The nutritional profile of Jell-O varies depending on the flavor and type, but in general, it is not a good source of any essential nutrients.

The Science Behind Jell-O

Have you ever wondered why Jell-O is so jiggly? The answer lies in the science of gelatin. When gelatin is dissolved in water, it forms a mixture that is liquid at room temperature. However, when the mixture is cooled, the gelatin molecules begin to bond together and create a network. This network traps the water molecules, creating a solid but jiggly structure.

The Role of Sugar in Jell-O

Sugar is an important ingredient in Jell-O, but not just because it makes the dessert sweet. Sugar also plays a role in the structure of Jell-O. When sugar is dissolved in water, it interacts with the gelatin in a way that helps to stabilize the gel network. This is why Jell-O recipes typically call for a specific amount of sugar – too little or too much can affect the final texture of the dessert.

The History of Jell-O Advertising

Jell-O has been marketed aggressively throughout its history. In the early 1900s, Jell-O was advertised as a quick and easy dessert that could be made by anyone. Magazine ads featured brightly colored illustrations of happy families enjoying bowls of Jell-O. Radio programs and television commercials also helped to spread the word about Jell-O.

One of the most famous Jell-O advertising campaigns was the Jell-O Girl. This character, portrayed by a young girl named Elizabeth King, appeared in ads from the 1930s to the 1950s. The Jell-O Girl wore a dress made of Jell-O boxes and was often shown enjoying Jell-O with her family.

Fun Facts About Jell-O

  • Jell-O is an official state dessert in Utah.
  • The famous Jell-O jingle, “Watch it wiggle, see it jiggle. Cool and fruity, Jell-O brand gelatin,” was first used in a television commercial in 1960.
  • Astronauts enjoyed Jell-O in space during the Apollo 11 mission in 1969.
  • Jell-O was originally marketed as a dessert for adults and was often served as a palate cleanser between courses of a meal.


Jell-O is a fun and delicious treat that has been enjoyed by people of all ages for over a hundred years. While the main ingredient is gelatin, Jell-O also contains sugar, artificial flavors, and colors. The science of gelatin and sugar helps to create the unique texture and structure of Jell-O. So the next time you enjoy a bowl of Jell-O, you’ll know the wobbly truth behind this classic dessert.

Common Questions and Answers About Jell-O

What is Jell-O made of?

Jell-O is made primarily of gelatin, which is derived from collagen found in animal bones and connective tissues. It also typically contains sugar, artificial flavors, and colors.

Is Jell-O vegan or vegetarian?

No, Jell-O is not vegan or vegetarian. Gelatin is derived from animal collagen, making it an animal product.

What is the nutritional profile of Jell-O?

Jell-O is a low-calorie dessert option but is not a significant source of any essential nutrients. It is high in sugar and low in protein and fiber.

How long does Jell-O take to set in the refrigerator?

The time it takes for Jell-O to set in the refrigerator can vary depending on the recipe and the temperature of your refrigerator. In general, Jell-O takes about 4 hours to set.

What flavors of Jell-O are available?

Jell-O is available in a wide variety of flavors, including cherry, strawberry, orange, lemon, lime, grape, peach, and raspberry. There are also many variations of Jell-O, such as sugar-free and pudding mixes.

Can Jell-O be used in recipes?

Yes, Jell-O can be used as an ingredient in many recipes, such as Jell-O salads and cakes. Jell-O can also be used as a topping for desserts like cheesecake and ice cream.

Is Jell-O gluten-free?

Most varieties of Jell-O are gluten-free, but it is always important to check the label to be sure.

How should Jell-O be stored?

Jell-O should be stored in the refrigerator until ready to serve. Once prepared, Jell-O should be consumed within a few days.

Can Jell-O be frozen?

Jell-O can be frozen, but the texture may change once it thaws. It is not recommended to freeze Jell-O if you are looking to maintain its original texture.

Can Jell-O be made with alcohol?

Yes, Jell-O shots are a popular party treat that are made with Jell-O and alcohol. Be sure to follow a tested recipe to get the right balance of gelatin and alcohol.

How did Jell-O get its name?

The name Jell-O was coined by the product’s inventor, Pearle B. Wait, and his partner, Orator F. Woodward. The origin of the name is unknown, but it is believed to be a combination of the words “gel” and “jelly.”


Kraft Heinz Company. (2021). Jell-O. Retrieved from https://www.jell-o.com/

O’Connor, A. (2013). The Science of Jell-O: How the famous dessert jiggles its way into existence. Popular Science. Retrieved from https://www.popsci.com/science/article/2013-09/science-jell-o/

Smithsonian Institution. (2015). The History of Jell-O: From Genius Idea to American Icon. Retrieved from https://www.smithsonianmag.com/arts-culture/history-jell-o-genius-idea-american-icon-180954808/

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