Jell-O has been a ubiquitous part of my life. As a child, I was mesmerized. I have memories of perfect translucent cubes of red or green topped with whipped cream in a tulip sundae glass at a greasy diner. The way the light came through the gelatin mystified me. On Jell-O salads, I thought it was magic the way grapes and bananas were suspended in the dessert.
Then as the years continued on, the magic of the wobbly treat gave way to how much alcohol I could fortify it with. Imbibing on Jell-O shots with whip cream as an underage college student was a rite of passage as much as a part of an end to my childhood innocence. Nothing says sexy like a college freshman with red stained lips from downing too many Jell-O shots pumped with grain alcohol.
Recently, I was in an accident where I proved an SUV will always win against a pedestrian in a Ben Sherman jacket (I still miss that jacketâ€¦). Guess it doesnâ€™t matter how cool and mod the jacket is, it wonâ€™t protect your bones any more than an ordinary one. The first comforting meal after several surgeries I found was a Jell-O cup. They called them gelatin gems in the hospital but itâ€™s the same thing. The nurses liked me enough to ensure I would get an extra cup that my Iâ€™m sure my insurance company paid a premium for. I would not be surprised to learn that for every gelatin gem I ate, an underwriter lost their job.
Like I said, Jell-O has always been a part of my life to some degree. Walking down the baking goods aisle, scoffing at the tubs of cornstarch and flour (which is knowingly weird but I think I have Tourette’s where I scoff at things randomly), I was looking for nothing in particular. Then there it was, my eyes fixated on the boxes of Jell-O. How refreshing to make Jell-O from scratch than to buy it in those already convenient six pack cups. Iâ€™m doing it I declared to no one.
Scouring the boxes, one stuck out and it wasnâ€™t just the annoying name. Mixchief by Jell-O. Sounds sophisticated since there is a byline in the product. The weird mascot on the box looks like Spongebob SquarePants dressed up as “The Gimp” from Pulp Fiction.
Then there is the pun. Puns just suck but what grabbed me about this product was “Add Soda.” Scarfing down a dessert that will quench my thirst simultaneously? How could I pass? Itâ€™s unflavored so whatever soda I use will paint the canvas per se.
I decided to use a common soft drink we should all be able to buy, Coke Zero. I was going to use Seagramâ€™s Cranberry Ginger Ale since it is the holidays but I didnâ€™t want to hear “Well, we donâ€™t get that in Timbukthree or Tristram” or wherever the hell you all come from. Coke Zero sounds like a reasonable choice. Breaking out my pots with the grace of an alchemist, I ripped open the box like an ordinary person.
The instructions on the back are insipidly simple. If you cannot follow them, give up on life and drink a cup of bleach or beat yourself into a coma with a frying pan because you are pretty much useless. Sorry to sound so harsh but the directions fit on a small box if that tells you anything.
I followed the “extra special” variation where I used boiled soda instead of boiled water. The bubbling cola on the stove emanated a sickly pungent raisin-like smell. It grossed me out and I wanted to stop but I forced myself to proceed. The thought of Jell-O tasting like Coke was a tiny bit offsetting but so does chicken livers soaked in whole milk overnight and that shit is good.
Sometimes texture is just as important as the taste. Being Chinese, texture is a big component in the cuisine. How else to explain our obsession for soups laden with beef tendon or sucking on dried sour plums until they become slightly chewy? I like Coke Zero but in gelatin form would it taste as good? Would the texture compliment the soda? Would it be like a sixty-nine in my mouth? The answer is HELL NO! HELL NO TO ALL THREE!
The Impulsive Buy meet The Repulsive Buy. Somehow the gelatin mix was able to sap all the flavor out of the cola. It was flavorless and the tiny carbonated swallows made it even more repugnant. It was a truly an alien experience and eating it made me feel like the subject of a bukkake video.
I understand the Jell-O may taste as good as the soft drink you choose but I think the texture negates that fact. Maybe I should have not used a diet cola and something sweeter. Maybe an orange soda or a cranberry soda would come off better. Either way, youâ€™re welcome to try because I wonâ€™t. This was so unappealing that even a dollop (or five) of whipped cream only intensified the blandness.
The only thing I can think of this Jell-O being used for is perhaps a novelty cocktail Jell-O shot like a Captain Morganâ€™s and Coke or a Gin and Tonic garnished with a candied lime, maybe even a beer. This will require a lot of trial and error (along with tomato juice to satiate any hangover pains) but I donâ€™t believe will be worth it. I also think fans of “molecular” cookery might find it a fun and easy way to play with texture. However if thatâ€™s the case, youâ€™re probably advanced enough to use gelatins sheets anyhow.
Sadly, this was a big fail, or more specifically the Coke Zero was a fail. I still believe the timid carbonated effect with each gulp is a bit disgusting regardless of the choice of soda. Iâ€™m all for new ideas, especially when it comes something as kitschy as Jell-O. Sometimes you win and sometimes you just suck. Jell-O, this sucked, but weâ€™ll always have lime or beef tendon.
(Nutrition facts – 1/2 cup (prepared with cola and water) – 40 calories, 0 grams of fat, 10 milligrams of sodium, 9 grams of carbohydrates, 8 grams of sugars, and 2 grams of protein.)
Item: Mixchief by Jell-O Make Your Ownâ€¦Add Soda
Size: 0.25 ounces
Purchased: A Publix supermarket that is weirdly dim and where an angry old lady surveys the deli.
Rating: 2 out of 10
Pros: This did not give me the farts. Imagining a war between the writers of The Impulsive Buy and its parallel earth counterpart The Repulsive Buy which inadvertently cause another Crisis of The Infinite Earths!!!
Cons: Bylines for products. Bukakke vids. The faint carbonation in the Jell-O is repulsive. My Mom making me eat things by trickery, claiming they were “Chinese hamburgers” or “Chinese hot dogs.”