Edem and I were driving home from campus listening to People of the United States when there was a report about the different ways states have socials: ice cream, coffee bars, open bars, and then Jello. He cocked his head and me and inquired, "What is Jello?"
I then preceded to explain. Sort of (I'm pausing here so you can think about how you might explain Jello to anyone who has never seen it, tasted it, or felt it. Without any context for the --- what kind of food product is it? --- dessert, it is much more difficult to put into words.
I started with the fruitiness, then switched to a more gelatinous ice cream, but I only received blank stares. I wanted to explain nursing homes and preschool nurseries, but knew I wouldn't get far. I contemplated gummy bears and Swedish fish, but that isn't correct either. The only solution I could think of was trying to make it, but I don't think I've had Jello in years (didn't Bill Cosby promote it or was that pudding?).
It bothered me all night. I couldn't figure out a way to explain Jello to someone who has never experienced Jello. The more I thought about it, the more creeped out I became as to what the #$@#$# it actually is. It seems my mom and grandmothers used to make a strawberry-cream cheese jello mold for particular occasions, but even that surpasses any explanation I might give to someone foreign to the product.
I guess one can only say, "Oh, you'll find out after doing an overnight in a hospital."