Here are Three Ways to Get Your Jiggle On: Jell-O-Based Desserts in Salt Lake

In celebration of our Food Issue cover depicting Gilgal Sculpture Gardens’ Joseph Smith sphinx encased in Jell-O—which is Utah’s state snack—we investigated the state of gelatin at these three local purveyors of this wobbly confection. You can find out who’s carrying the torch of Jell-O traditions and who’s experimenting in the field. Read our online-exclusive article about Gilgal Sculpture Gardens at SLUGMag.com.


Chuck-A-Rama Buffet

744 E. 400 South, Salt Lake City || 801.531.1123
Monday–Saturday: 11 a.m.–9 p.m.
Sunday: 11 a.m.–8 p.m.
chuck-a-rama.com

Chuck-A-Rama's signature green Jell-O.
Photo: @tinymessy

Though I’m not a Utah native, my Illinois roots bring me close to the state’s snacking traditions via pretzel Jell-O, a fantastic dessert with a pretzel crust and a cream-cheese filling, all topped with strawberry Jell-O. When I’m craving dessert, my go-to isn’t a plain, gooey block of animal byproduct. Nonetheless, I went to a Chuck-A-Rama on SLUG’s orders and immersed myself in a Utah staple: the restaurant’s green Jell-O.

After a meal that undoubtedly broke into the quadruple digits of caloric intake, I sat down to try Chuck-A-Rama’s signature dessert. The block had a solid build and held its shape, but a soft spoon could easily slice through the center. The gelatin flavor was carefully hidden behind the “green” (lime) flavor, but not so much that it tasted like a mouthful of artificial sweetener. While I was skeptical of non-strawberry Jell-O, I did appreciate the citrusy bite that offset the sugary qualities of the gelatin.

All in all, Chuck-A-Rama’s Jell-O was fine. I certainly enjoyed the meal beforehand some more, and the spread offered an array of desserts (including a buffet essential, bread pudding) that were more exciting and, frankly, tasted a lot better. But this trip was about the jiggly block of slime that I obliged in between courses four and five. B+. –Connor Lockie


Gelatina Sabor

801.919.5109
facebook.com/gelatinasaborsandy

Gelatina Sabor's SLUG-branded Jell-O pops.
Photo: Joshua Joye

One skill the women in my family value passing down each generation is the ability to know how to throw a party. Every birthday party growing up had a solidified theme, matching cake and a colorful palette of orange, green and red gelatinas (gelatin) in styrofoam cups that would sit on the top shelf in the fridge. I didn’t think anything could bring me back to that feeling of knowing that it is your special day like my mom’s gelatina, until I tried Gelatina Sabor’s cake-molded personalized gelatina.

The name Gelatina Sabor translates from Spanish to English to “tasty gelatin,” and folks, the tres leches gelatina we ordered was tasty. Gelatina Sabor’s Jell-O is customizable. You can order it in any color, add any image and choose between two flavors, coconut and tres leches. We chose tres leches, modeled after a traditional Latin American sponge cake that is soaked in evaporated milk, condensed milk and heavy cream. We chose the SLUG logo for the graphic displayed on top of the cake and surrounding gelatin popsicles.

It’s creamy, tastes like tres leches, and the consistency was a hybrid of traditional Jell-O and flan—trippy. Gelatina Sabor takes orders through their Facebook page and each cake is made to order. –Bianca Velasquez


Post Office Place

16 W. Market St., Salt Lake City || 385.202.7500
Monday–Saturday: 4:30 p.m.–1 a.m.
facebook.com/postbarslc

Post Office Place's citrus-flavored (and shaped) Jell-O creations.
Photo: Rich Romney

For the month of September, Post Office Place will have a Jell-O shot available that nods toward Utah’s great Jell-O tradition and updates it SLC style—that is, with a tasty spirit. It’s basically a paloma cocktail by General Manager Rich Romney, just in gelatin form. The gelatin is molded in a hollowed-out grapefruit and has ruby hues indicative of the citric treat to come. With two tablespoons of powdered gelatin powder, blanco tequila, three whole grapefruits, ¼–½ cup sugar, ½ cup of cold water and ¼ cup of New World Distillery’s Wasatch Blossom: Utah Tart Cherry Liqueur, the mold is cut with the grapefruit peel into yummy wedges.

On the nose, upfront, is a pleasant booziness. Biting into it, grapefruit and the pepperiness of tequila refreshes the palate, and the earthiness of the tequila follows. Add in the flavor of the tart cherry liqueur for, and this Jell-O shot is a pleasant, jiggly libation in solid form. Not only is this a paloma cocktail that you can eat, but they’re not too sweet, which caused me to indulge a couple after the first. It’s easy to do, since the tequila adds a whole other dimension to a treat that tends to have untraceable vodka. It really is like a paloma gummy, and the tequila brings an edge to the wedge. –Alexander Ortega


More on SLUGMag.com:

Food Review: Post Office Place
On the Rise: New World Distillery