Confessions logo

The Ignominious Jell-O Debacle

A Confession of Cheesecakes and Peach Jelly

By E.L. MartinPublished about a year ago 5 min read
The Ignominious Jell-O Debacle
Photo by Girl with red hat on Unsplash

To a grandchild, a grandparent is an incredible and wonderful being. It is as if everything their grandparent touches is magic. Their recipes are secret and special. Part of the magic is that you do not know the ingredients used in them, as my brother and I have recently discovered.

"You should have been at Grandma's this past Sunday: her cheesecake, mmm! Nobody makes cheesecake like Grandma." he exclaims throwing in a confirming hand gesture while rubbing his belly.

By Elena Rabkina on Unsplash

"What kind of cheesecake did she make?" I ask with skepticism.

"Just a regular one; it had some strawberry stuff she added to the top of it though. I don't know what she did differently this time, but she sure did it well!" he answers.

By Kalisha Ocheni on Unsplash

I let out a chuckle that alerts him I know something he doesn't. My brother is far from a culinary expert, and I've caught on to something he hasn't at this point.

"What?! Hey, why are you laughing at me?" he exclaims.

"Aldi had Jell-O cheesecake mixes on sale this week. They were discounted because they are close to end of date. Grandma bought the cheesecake mix at Aldi; she always does when it is on sale." I smirk and continue laughing at his expense.

My brother's girlfriend and our mother chuckle at this point.

Mother chimes, "I've made you Jell-O cheesecake before. It's easy! Come on, how did you not know?"

"Mom, I swear it tasted different! She had to have done something different to it!" he refutes.

At this point, his girlfriend snickers, "Yeah, it was close to end of date so it was better seasoned!"

We all laugh as my poor brother's mysterious cheesecake proclamations and idyllic portrayal of our grandmother have been solved, crushed, shattered, and dissolved.

Little did I know, when I laughed at his expense that my time was coming.

I traveled to my grandmother's home with my bundle of joy along with me. My son was quite excited to see his great-grandmother, and we were both rather looking forward to this visit. I don't often get excited about the variety of foods and dishes she constantly offers, but there are a few things she offers that I, much like my brother, find special.

She had apparently made what she refers to as "Chicken and Stuff" which is a sort of baked chicken breast with stuffing and a mixture of dressings. My grandfather, to her chagrin, refers to it as "Chicken Shit" just to get her going. She is always offended and always sharply corrects him not to say things like that. Those of us who hear this always laugh.

I do have a few bites of it, but I always limit my quantities. If there is one thing I know about my grandmother, it is that she loves to add fattening ingredients into everything. I "joke" about a stick of butter per homemade chicken tender, but you'll notice I wrote joke in quotes. She offers green beans, pepperoni rolls, macaroni and cheese, homemade applesauce that my grandfather has made, etc. My son eats a little bit of everything, and I carefully ration out small portions of each. I carefully steer away from the macaroni and cheese entirely.

She offers other options, as most grandmothers do, after we finish our lunch. Then, she brings forth the brightly colored jam I enjoy so much.

"You made peach jelly?!" I cheer.

By Fernando Andrade on Unsplash

"Yes, and you're welcome to take this container here home with you when you leave! Just remind me to get you a bag." she says, her voice ringing sweetly in my ears.

"Oh, thank you!" I beam, and show the jar to my son and proclaim, "We're going to have peach jelly tonight and tomorrow morning for breakfast!"

As if my toddler cares; I'm far more excited about this than he is, and I know it.

My grandmother's peach jelly was the beloved favorite dish of mine. We all have our favorites; one uncle loves tapioca, my mother loves creamed tomatoes, apparently my brother loves her pre-manufactured non-authentic cheesecake, the list goes on, but mine is her peach jelly. Hours later, I carry that jar of jam like a trophy as I leave out the door remembering her sweet sing-song notes as music to my ears.

By Keri Titley on Unsplash

Then, I hear something that breaks the illusion completely.

"You'll have to eat it in the next week or so. The seal is broken on that jar I gave you. There is orange Jell-O in it, so it won't stay good long." she says.

The record playing in my head skips suddenly.

"Oh, you mean because of the gelatin or pectin that is in it?" I inquire, hoping I hadn't heard her correctly.

"No, there is orange Jell-O in it. I didn't put any pectin or unflavored gelatin in it." she confirms before adding, "I put a can of ground up pineapple, peaches, and orange Jell-O in it. That's how I make my peach jelly."

I wasn't ready for this information. I didn't ask her to reveal this secret, but now I cannot ignore or deny the revelation she has uttered so matter-of-factly. I wondered what the secret was, but was always too afraid to ask. I didn't want to spoil my favorite "homemade" indulgence by knowing. I always thought there was something special and elusive about her peach jelly that I could never replicate, and I was somewhat fine with that.

No wonder my peach jelly never tasted right! My illusion of her famously wonderful peach jelly was shattered. It wasn't a special type of peaches; in fact, peaches weren't even the main ingredient! It is more of a marmalade with orange and pineapple in it anyway. I have been deceived.

My brother and I had both been duped. Upon our next meeting, I would make my profound confession so he could laugh at my expense. It was now my turn to eat crow, except in this case, I'll be eating Jell-O; orange flavored Jell-O nonetheless, and I'll be laughing. I'm still going to eat that "peach jelly." I'm going to savor every morsel! It is still absolutely delicious, but I cannot deny that I have been caught in what I now refer to as "The Ignominious Jell-O Debacle."



About the Creator

E.L. Martin

Powered by Nature, Humanity, Humor, Food, Lifestyle, Fiction, and Culture; Oh, and a questionable amount of coffee.

Reader insights

Be the first to share your insights about this piece.

How does it work?

Add your insights


There are no comments for this story

Be the first to respond and start the conversation.

Sign in to comment

    Find us on social media

    Miscellaneous links

    • Explore
    • Contact
    • Privacy Policy
    • Terms of Use
    • Support

    © 2023 Creatd, Inc. All Rights Reserved.