Tuesday, May 6, 2008

Welcome to Jell-O Town

Recently in the NY Times:

Le ROY, N.Y. — Jell-O is as American as, well, Jell-O, a staple at generations of potluck dinners and fodder for students in cafeteria food fights.

. . . every year, more than 10,000 devotees flock to this sleepy bedroom community near Rochester to watch the gelatin wiggle.

General Foods shut the Jell-O factory here in 1964, but Le Roy — where a carpenter who spent his winters trying to develop herbal teas invented the stuff in 1897 — remains devoted to the dessert. As with the relationships between Flint, Mich., and General Motors, or Buffalo and Bethlehem Steel, the company may have retreated, but the identity stuck.

The Jell-O Gallery dominates the old building on East Main Street that houses the local historical society.

The gallery is a must-see for fans curious about how the translucent, jiggly gelatin became a cornerstone of the modern American diet, as well as for people seeking a glimpse of New York’s industrial past. There is an exhibit displaying advertisements over the years and another that shows the evolution of Jell-O’s three-ounce package (the shape of which has not changed all that much). You can vote for your favorite flavor or watch Bill Cosby's popular Jell-O commercials.

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