Did you know that JELL-O was created in Upstate New York?
It dates back to the late 1800s in the Genesee County village of Le Roy, about an hour and a half west of Syracuse.
“There was a carpenter in town by the name of Pearle Wait, who for some reason decided he was going to try mixing gelatin, flavoring, coloring, lots of sugar, together” says Lynne Bellusco, Executive Director of the Le Roy Historical Society. “His wife came up with the name yellow JELL hyphen O, and they registered it as a trademark. So, it wasn’t a new invention, it was the introduction of a word now that we used generically.”
Wait tried selling his new product for several years, with little success. He ended up selling his product to a local businessman, Orator Woodward, in 1899 for $450.
“And the rest is kind of history. It was Orator Woodward that propelled JELL-O so it was nationally known” adds Bellusco. “By 1907, it was grossing $1,000,000 a year.”
Today, the JELL-O Gallery Museum on East Main Street in Le Roy shares the story of what has become known as America’s Most Famous Dessert.
“If you come, we certainly encourage folks to go see the brain wave test cause JELL-O has brain waves and that’s been proven and so that’s kind of an unusual thing” says Bellusco. “We also have advertising by Norman Rockwell and Maxfield Parrish, and that’s why we call it a gallery because we have original artwork that we like to show people. We also have a wall of JELL-O molds, over 100 JELL-O molds.”