Knox Protein Drink: Mid-Century Recipe Test

Posted on May 4 2011 - 5:41am by RetroRuth

Knox Gel Cookery001

Welcome to this week’s Mid-Century Menu, the feature on the blog where Tom and I make a recipe from our mid-century cookbooks and eat it for dinner. No matter how horrible it is. But this week we have one big difference in our post: no Tom!

Now, I know most of you guys come here every week to see me cram some disgusting thing or another down Tom’s throat and then take pictures of his tortured facial expressions. But, I’ve been doing this to him for so long, I decided this would be the week that I would try something. That I would take one for the team.

Besides, he was at work when I made this so…yeah. Just me this time.

And, of course, I decide to try something completely crazy. Of course I do.

I didn’t know this, but apparently Knox gelatin is used as a protein drink. Which makes sense when you think about it, but…who really wants to think about it? Really?

Anyway, I was flipping through my amazing Gel-Cookery Recipe Book from Knox, which was published in 1955, when I came upon this little beauty on the last page.

Knox Gel Cookery002

I decided to go with the powdered milk version because it sounded more disgusting.  For some unknown reason.

Wait, wait. Don’t run away screaming yet. To quote Mr. Burns from the Simpsons: "If you stay you can have anything you want, even some sort of gelatin dish. It’s made from hooves, you know."

I don’t know about you guys, but I think they should have kept the calf on the front.


Yes! Just like this powdered milk!  If you squint a little bit and turn your head, it almost looks like the cow is on the Knox box.


Using a Georges Briard glass made me brave.


And then piling in all the powder made me scared again.


All mixed up and ready to go.

I lifted up the glass. I took a deep breath and took a big drink.

It was gross. Not totally gross, but pretty gross. The gelatin didn’t dissolve, of course, because there was no hot liquid to dissolve it in. So it just sort of…floated around the glass in little chewy bits. Kind of like tapioca pudding, if the tapioca was tiny and the delicious pudding part tasted like watery, fake milk.

Speaking of watery, my eyes were watering on the next gulp. It was getting nasty. I needed outside help to finish. So I called in another mid-century friend to back me up.


My trusty container of Ovaltine.

I mixed enough Ovaltine in to counteract the powdered milk taste and chugged it down.



The Verdict: Gross. I can think of a lot better ways to get protein, starting with the suggestion of using hot broth in the Knox recipe if I had to drink it. If those little blobs of chewy wouldn’t have been there, straining through my teeth, it wouldn’t have been such a hardship to drink it. Except for the powdered milk.

Note: If you are enamored with the idea of drinking gelatin for health purposes, Knox makes a special gelatin drinking powder just for you. Except it is orange-flavored, which I don’t think would go well with milk powder. At all.

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I love everything retro, vintage, mid-century, kitsch and all things atomic! A 21st century housewife just trying to fit the 50's. I have a passion for vintage recipes and an enormous vintage cookbook collection that I keep testing, even though by now I should know better. Creator of Mid-Century Menu (, No Pattern Required (, and I Ate The 80's (

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24 Comments so far. Feel free to join this conversation.

  1. h311ybean May 4, 2011 at 7:24 am - Reply

    This looks like a good time to bring up a drink my mom remembers from her childhood called a Madame Bovary – milk and Coca-Cola. She never told me about making/trying it herself, but I mentioned it to a friend and he experimented with the proportions. I managed to unearth his notes (sadly, no Tom-style pictures, LOL):


    ingredients: one can of coke. one 250 ml container of milk. one straw, for stirring.

    base case: equal parts milk and coke.
    what it looks like: dockers khakis, unlaundered
    what it tastes like: carbonated muddy water

    option A: coke with splash of milk
    what it looks like: the water you clean your watercolor brush in
    what it tastes like: you know the foam on an A&W root beer with vanilla ice cream? it’s exactly like that. except take away the root beer flavor. and take away the vanilla flavor, for that matter.

    option B: two parts coke, one part milk
    what it looks like: milky cocoa
    what it tastes like: what milk might taste like if you pumped a cow full of coke, hired a very strong man to shake it, and lay down under it and drank straight from the teat.

    • RetroRuth May 5, 2011 at 1:28 pm - Reply

      Ha ha!!! Love it! 🙂

  2. Eartha Kitsch May 4, 2011 at 10:13 am - Reply

    Oh no no no no no……

    • RetroRuth May 4, 2011 at 12:09 pm - Reply

      Oh yes!!!

  3. veg-o-matic May 4, 2011 at 10:21 am - Reply

    I’m thinking the instruction “Drink quickly” should have been a clue.

    • RetroRuth May 4, 2011 at 12:08 pm - Reply

      Oh, it was. That’s why I picked it. 🙂

  4. Sara In AZ May 4, 2011 at 10:38 am - Reply

    I don’t even know how you managed to choke down this drink – even with the Ovaltine. Eeks!!!!

    • RetroRuth May 4, 2011 at 12:07 pm - Reply

      It was pretty gross, but I had Tom’s legend to live up to…

      • Sara In AZ May 5, 2011 at 9:49 pm - Reply

        Well, there is that. 😉

  5. Brie May 4, 2011 at 12:46 pm - Reply

    I’m so proud! And i’m glad you survived…cause that sounds NASTY.

    • RetroRuth May 5, 2011 at 1:28 pm - Reply

      Thanks, Brie!! That makes me feel all warm and fuzzy inside. 🙂

  6. Buzz May 4, 2011 at 10:50 pm - Reply

    We’ve tried some unusual drinks, and the gloppy ones are the worst. The texture is unpleasant, but its seeing the semi-solid bits floating in the fluid that’s the worst part, actually.

    • RetroRuth May 5, 2011 at 1:30 pm - Reply

      I’ve seen some of the stuff you guys have tried! Ew! And you are right, the “mystery” bits are the worst part. If you have to make something disgusting, it is best to make it in the blender. That’s how Tom and I got the “liver milk” down.

  7. Andrea May 5, 2011 at 12:50 am - Reply

    As someone who can’t even stand pulp in her orange juice, I have NO IDEA how you managed to choke down that whole glass of milk with gelatinous bits in it! Ovaltine or no! It’s too bad we did not get pics of you sampling it!

    • RetroRuth May 5, 2011 at 1:31 pm - Reply

      Ahhh…next time, Andrea. I swear I’ll take pics next time. 🙂 If there is a next time for this horrible drink!

  8. Jenny (VintageSugarcube) May 5, 2011 at 1:43 pm - Reply

    HaHa.. You two are tooo funny with the protein drink. I’d rather have a midcentury pork chop, but kudos to you for stepping outside the box. keep doing what you’re doing. Love your site. 🙂

  9. Kim Campbell May 7, 2011 at 9:53 pm - Reply

    Question: What so you do with the leftovers!!!??? Just curious. They’d be in my garbage!

    • RetroRuth May 8, 2011 at 8:05 am - Reply

      In this case, there were no leftovers, thank god! But normally we eat them until we can’t stand it anymore. Unless it is REALLY disgusting. And then just Tom eats it until he can’t stand it anymore. 🙂

  10. jenna May 12, 2011 at 4:05 am - Reply

    I’m a first time visitor to your blog.
    I applaud your diligence in pursuing Mid-Century verisimilitude: kudos.
    However, the last sentence in your essay took me by surprise. In my youth, — and today, I’d bet, if I could find them — I was a great fan of the 50-50©. If you need a reminder, it’s a Popsicle© product; specifically, double-sticked orange flavored sherbet shell around vanilla ice milk. So, I for one really like the orange/milk combo.

    PS. There are apparently variations that I never knew: The Creamsicle© — a.k.a., –, which has ice cream centers with either orange or raspberry outsides. I’ve also found reference to “Dreamsicle” which seems to be another name for the 50-50©.

    I wonder if the 50-50© came first, was upgraded to the Creamsicle, then re-marketed with a more “glam” name to appeal to females seeking a lower calorie product. hmmmm

    anyway, keep up the good work.

    • RetroRuth May 12, 2011 at 8:30 am - Reply

      Hi Jenna!
      The last was just a personal taste comment. I hate orange/milk combos, and have never liked Creamscicles. Blargh!

  11. Jill March 24, 2012 at 9:37 pm - Reply

    Hi Ruth, Just found your blog today! My cousin drank this daily for years! She claimed it helped her hair and made her fingernails stronger and longer. She had great hair and nails back in the 60s/70s!

  12. Lyle March 27, 2012 at 4:19 am - Reply

    That gives me a flashback to when the Knox gelatin boxes had instructions to drink an envelope a day to improve your skin and nails. I had a cousin who would do that for a week (she’d mix it in orange juice) whenever she thought her nails weren’t as strong as she’d like.

  13. P'Gell June 18, 2012 at 3:05 pm - Reply

    I just saw this one. Ruth, you were on your own with all that…. hoofey goodness and you didn’t set up the timer on your camera and take pics? Aw…..

    Great recipe…. 😉 I remember girls who used to drink Knox for their nails. I could never choke it down.
    Blarg indeed.

  14. HIKERMOM December 5, 2015 at 12:19 pm - Reply

    This is how I drink it. I take a 16 oz bottle of water and add a packet of Crystal Light pure (with stevia) and shake well. Then I pour half the mixture in a glass with ice. I add the envelope of Knox gelatin to the other half still in the bottle and shake well. you can also add a little honey or more stevia or splenda if you want to. Then I very quickly drink the gelatin mixture while not breathing and before I take a breath, I drink several big gulps of the drink in my glass with the ice. If you use this method, you will not even taste the disgustingness of the gelatin.

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