Steam power and Jell-O
Heron of Greece invented steam power in 50 BC. But the leaders of the day thought that it would cause unemployment and the invention ran out of steam.
The steam engine reappeared in the 1600s in Ferdinand Verbiest’s steam car and then years later again, in 1804, when English inventor Richard Trevithick introduced the steam locomotive in Wales.
In 1815, George Stephenson built the world’s first workable steam locomotive.
In 1845, another steam engine manufacturer, Peter Cooper of New York – who built the Tom Thumb, the first American steam locomotive – concocted a powdered gelatin dessert. (Gelatin is made from the connective tissue proteins of cows or pigs.)
In 1897, cough syrup maker Pearle Bixby Wait of LeRoy, New York trademarked this gelatin dessert… which his wife Mary called Jell-O.
Pearle made a granulated form of the gelatin and he and Mary added flavoring. The first four Jell-O flavors were lemon, orange, strawberry and raspberry.
The Waits didn’t have much success with their product and, in 1899, sold the formula, patent and trade name to their neighbor, Orator Frank Woodward, who owned the Genesee Pure Foods Company (which eventually became the Jell-O Company). It made Woodward a wealthy man.
America’s Favorite Dessert
Jell-O was one of the first companies to advertise on radio. In 1904, long before Jell-O became America’s favorite dessert, Woodward advertised his product in the Ladies Home Journal magazine with the byline “America’s Favorite Dessert”. It made Jello-O, well, America’s favorite dessert.
The original slogan was replaced in 1964 by “There’s always more room for Jell-O.”
According to comedian John Candy, “Whoever said nothing is impossible obviously hasn’t tried nailing Jell-O to a tree.”