By Kent Larsen
Its Official: Jell-O Utah's State Snack
SALT LAKE CITY, UTAH -- In a jovial session of the Utah State Legislature
yesterday comedian Bill Cosby joked with legislators as Jell-O was named the
state's official snack. The dessert joins seagulls and the honey bee as
official state symbols, but while the other two have historical roots in
Mormonism, Jell-O's connection is cultural.
However, Cosby credited Jell-O's dominance in Utah to factors that are
Mormon hallmarks, "I'm proud, not because you are number one in consuming
gelatin but because you are the number one family state," said the
commedian, who has been a Jell-O spokesman for 26 years. "You take your
children with you when you go places. You cook for them. Feed them. Put them
to sleep. Wake them up. And talk to them." Cosby also joked about Utah's
family views, "You also get married here . . . before you have children," he
said, getting rousing applause from the legislators.
Utah officials have also declared February 4 to 10th as Jell-O Week in Utah.
Jell-O corporate representatives were on hand, handing out T-shirts and
autographed boxes of Jell-O to the lawmakers. Cosby joked that he was
grateful that the legislators could stay awake during his speech, "Somebody
must have put caffeine in your Jell-O."
The state was disappointed in 1999 when it learned that Utah had been passed
as the top consumer of Jell-O by Iowa. Since then, residents have worked to
get the title back, with one restaurant, Salt Lake City's Bambara, staging a
"Take Back the Title" contest in which residents shared their best Jell-O
recipes. Last fall, BYU students started a petition drive, getting nearly
15,000 signatures, asking the legislature to name Jell-O the state snack.
Still, some legislators put up some jovial opposition to the resolution.
Senator Gene Davis argued that ice cream should be the state snack because
it is manufactured in the state, while Jell-O is not, "Ice cream is not as
sexy or wiggly and jiggly as Jell-O," Davis said in jest. "But ice cream is
wholesome and made in Utah."
Readers who don't believe Utahns take Jell-O seriously should read the
recent letter to the editor in the Salt Lake Tribune that compared trying to
find Jell-O in Detroit, Michigan to trying to find liquor in Utah. The
author, David Snow of Farmington, claimed he had to drive 90 miles to Ohio
to buy Jell-O and that his letter-writing efforts to get stores in Detroit
to carry Jell-O were ignored. Snow says he had to "accept the fact that it
is not going to change, stop whining and just deal with it!"
Jell-O Fits the Bill as State Snack
Salt Lake Tribune 1Feb01 D4
By Kathy Stephenson: Salt Lake Tribune
Just Deal With It
Salt Lake Tribune 24Jan01 OT1
By David Snow