Fifth grade, circa 1985: We're wearing bubblegum pink high top Reeboks with snug Jordache jeans and our hair is perfectly feathered. We've spritzed on just enough Love's Baby Soft to overpower the scent of the Aqua Net hairspray. We stroll into the lunchroom and we spot him - our crush, a sixth grader. We walk across the room, our tray loaded with meatloaf and a lime JELL-O cup. And then it happens.
We fall flat on our faces. Everyone is laughing and we have a giant green JELL-O stain on our new Member's Only jacket.
We haven't eaten JELL-O since then.
Photo by Jonathan McNamara
Tasked to come up with a JELL-O treat, we browse the official JELL-O website
Hmm? What have we here? Adults only?
We click on the JELL-O lounge and key in our birth date (ten thirty-one seventy-two, but really JELL-O police - who are we kidding?).
Bingo! JELL-O recipes with alcohol, just the thing to get us past our childhood trauma.
The recipe includes boiling cranberry juice cocktail, lime juice, vodka, limes for garnish, and three packages of raspberry JELL-O mix. We have everything in our pantry except for the mix, so we head to the store which is where our first blunder occurs.
The recipe calls for three boxes of four serving JELL-O. Does JELL-O come in sizes? We pay no attention, scoop three eight serving-size boxes into our cart and head home. Turns out that we have too much mix on hand, but we measure the contents and prepare to divide evenly.
One box of eight serving JELL-O contains just a bit less than a full cup of powder. This makes for some interesting dividing, but we think we have one and a half of the three boxes measured out.
Of course, making JELL-O is pretty easy so this part of the treat goes off well. We boil the cranberry juice, add the raspberry mix, the vodka and the lime. We pour the mixture into our pan, toss it into the refrigerator and we're feeling a little smug. We mix up a cocktail to sip while we wait four hours for the JELL-O to do it's thing.
Later that day we pull the JELL-O out and prepare to make the Cosmo shapes. Little triangles right? Easy enough, except we start cutting into the JELL-O and realize that even with our sharpest implements, we cannot make a single straight clean line.
The recipe called for an 8 inch pan so there are no even measurements to get anything above a two inch triangle, and the picture on the recipe definitely looks larger than two inches. Plus, the edges of our baking dish are curved, so the outside triangles are all a little wonky.
We poke through our cookie cutters, but nothing is the right shape. We poke through our kid's playdough stuff, but don't find anything there either. Back to trimming the triangles by hand, and it looks like we'll get way less than the 24 servings than the recipe states.
We look at the pan and realize we'd better pick up the pace. The JELL-O is starting to sweat and so are we. We manage to get 15 slightly off center triangles, but we eat the excess trimmings so we're not too annoyed by it.
Now for the final assembly. We notice that the picture on the recipe shows little lollipop sticks. We consider eating a bag of dum-dums, but decide to try to find new sticks instead. But we can't find them anywhere.
If we don't have the sticks, we have a tray of misshaped jello shots and the desert is a disaster. After an exhaustive search we finally locate small candy sticks at Walmart near the cake decorating kits. Back home, another vodka cocktail down, we assemble them and we're thinking they don't look bad.
Except when we bring them to the office competition the next day one of our coworkers says "nice flags". "Flags?" we say, "they are martini glasses." She looks at them again. "Oh. Now I see it."
We pass them around and we don't care anymore. Sure you have slurp them down quickly before they slide off the sticks, but they contain some alcohol and they taste pretty good. We notice some people going for seconds, so if they look like little flags then we're thinking we'll fly them with pride.
And then we look down and notice it - a tiny red JELL-O stain on our sleeve.