Who knows where it was invented? I do! (LeRoy, NY)
And Leroy, NY is home of the Jell-o Museum and Gallery.
"THE HISTORY OF JELL-O
"There's Always Room for Jell-O." This is the campaign slogan of a simple gelatin dessert that today is known as "America's Most Famous Dessert." The success story is one, the result of advertising and merchandising methods, new and different, never before employed. Salesmen, well-trained, well groomed, well versed in the art of selling went out in "spanking rigs, drawn by beautiful horses" into the roads, byroads, fairs, country gatherings, church socials, and parties to advertise their product. First came team-drawn wagons, to be followed by smart auto-cars. Pictures, posters, and billboards over the American landscape, as well as page ads in magazines, carried the Jell-O Girl and the six delicious flavors into the American home.
In 1845, Peter Cooper dabbled with and patented a product which was "set" with gelatin. Suffice it to say, it never did "jell" with the American public. In 1897, Pearle Wait, a carpenter in LeRoy, was putting up a cough remedy and laxative tea in his home. He experimented with gelatine and came up with a fruit flavored dessert which his wife, May, named Jell-O. He tried to market his product but he lacked the capital and the experience. In 1899 he sold the trademark to a fellow townsman for the sum of $450.
The buyer already had some success in manufacturing and selling. He was one of the best known manufacturers of proprietary medicines. Orator Frank Woodward was born in North Bergen in 1856 and moved with his family to LeRoy in 1860. Life was not easy for the boy, but no job was too menial for him, because in his mind every opportunity was a step toward his goal. By 1876 he was making composition balls used by marksmen for target shooting. Then he engaged in the manufacture of a composition nest egg with "miraculous power to kill lice on hens when hatching." This became a widely known and used product in the United States and Canada.
On September 9, 1899 he purchased the name and the business of Jell-O from Mr. Wait. The bill of sale bears the name of Everett W. Bishop as witness. Manufacturing was carried on under the supervision of Andrew Samuel Nico of Lyons, NY. Sales were slow and disheartening for the new product, but income from Grain-O remained steady. One day in a gloomy mood "O.F." offered Sam Nico the whole blankety-blank business for $35. This story is vouchsafed by George McHardy. In 1900, the Jell-O name was first used by the Genesee Pure Food Company. The advertising campaign proved so successful that in 1902 Jell-O sales mounted to $250,000. Jell-O prospered and the consensus of the townspeople is carried in a colloquial expression heard in town - "Grain-O, Jell-O, and Nico."
From the beginning Jell-O's advertising was directed by William E. Humelbaugh followed by Frank LaBounty. These men began the distribution of recipes and samples in 1904. A three-inch ad costing $336 in the Ladies Home Journal launched the printed portion of the campaign, and the first of the Jell-O "best seller" recipes rolled off the presses. In some years as many as 15 million booklets were distributed. Noted artists such as Rose O'Neill, Maxfield Parrish, Coles Phillips, Norman Rockwell, Linn Ball, and Angus MacDonald made Jell-O a household word with their colored illustrations.
In 1904, Jell-O introduces the Jell-O Girl, four year old Elizabeth King whose father, Franklin King, was an artist connected with the Dauchy Company - Jell-O's advertising agency. In her right hand the little girl held a teakettle and in her left a package of Jell-O. Advertising kept abreast of the times and so in 1934 General Foods, a pioneer in selling by radio, signed Jack Benny and the whole world came to know "J-E-L-L-O.""
So now you know more than you ever wanted to know about Jell-O.
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