IN THE 1950S, A FOOD trend swept the United States: the sweet salad. World War II had ended, and with it wartime rationing, but Americans’ penchant for canned goods persisted. The combination of the increased popularity of preserved foods and the overall postwar atmosphere of abundance led to a widespread love for dishes that were modern, decorative, and convenient. This included technicolor “salads” made from multiple processed ingredients, like powdered gelatin and canned fruit. Epitomizing this mix of social forces, in all its trembling, fruit-filled, jewel-hued glory, was the Jell-O mold. Consisting of a mix of sweet, and often savory, ingredients suspended in elaborate rings of wiggly instant gelatin, these creations shone from the pages of Betty Crocker and The Joy of Cooking books, and festooned the countertops of suburban America.