Glistening And Jiggly Gelatin Finalist #1 –Tomato Ham Salad Loaf

Posted on Jun 6 2012 - 6:09am by RetroRuth

This is it! This is IT! It’s finally here. Out of over 50 submissions, I’ve tested 28 gelatins and Tom has tasted every single one.  We took pictures, we made notes and we even fought about who the finalists were. So it has come down to this: Not only are we ready to start announcing winners, but we are going to be picking more winners. And we can do that. I can do it because it’s my blog, and Tom can do it because he is the poor sap that had to suck down all that Jell-O.  So, the changes will be as follows:

1. There will now be FOUR finalists for the Worst Gelatin, but you guys will still get to pick the Grand Prize Winner.

2. There will now be FOUR winners for Best Gelatin (One first place, and three recipes tied for second place).

3. There will be a RetroRuth’s Choice Winner in addition to the Tom’s Pick Winner.

3. There are MORE PRIZES. Christy from OrWa Designs has added a set of their handmade coasters into the mix, which I am seriously jealous over. And Tom and I have thrown in some more goodies from our collections, too.

But enough about prizes and winners.

Well, not really, because here is the first finalist for the Worst Category:


This is Tomato Ham Salad Loaf.

And it tastes like crap.


Tomato Ham Salad Loaf

2 tablespoons unflavored gelatin
1/2 cup cold water
3 cups tomato juice
1 tablespoon grated onion
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/8 teaspoon pepper
1 teaspoon sugar
1 cup ground cooked ham
1 teaspoon mustard
6 tablespoons mayonnaise
9 ounces cream cheese
3 tablespoons cream

Soften gelatin in cold water for 5 minutes. Combine tomato juice, onion, salt, pepper, and sugar, heat to boiling and simmer for 5 minutes. Add gelatin and stir until dissolved. Cool. Combine ham, mustard, and mayonnaise. Thin cream cheese with cream. Pour 1/3 of tomato mixture into loaf pan (8 1/2 x 5 x 3 inches). Chill until firm. Spread ham mixture on top and cover with half of remaining tomato mixture. Chill until firm. Spread with cream cheese and cover with last of tomato mixture. Chill until firm. Unmold on a platter, garnish with greens.


This little lovely was sent to us by thatmidcenturyfella, who wrote the following nice note to try to make up for this stinker of a recipe:

I am in love with your blog. I am not sucking up, I promise. Just me being honest. You helped inspire me to start blogging too!

Here is my recipe I found in a vintage cookbook recently that was gag worthy. From the glamorous line of “aspic recipes”… Tomato Ham Salad Loaf. (From “500 Tasty Snacks: Ideas for Entertaining” 1954)

It kinda makes you question what was actually legal back then, don’t it?

Keep up the good work!


Well, if by “keep up the good work” you mean, “keep making recipes that we send you no matter how disgusting they seem”, then mission accomplished!


Really, really accomplished. I even got all the layers and everything!

Not that it matters much for the taste, but at least it looks good.




“Whose idea was this?”

“Quiet. It is hard to take pictures of you when you are talking.”


“This is really…not good.”


From Tom’s testing notes:

Not good. The flavors just did not combine correctly. The cream cheese and tomato layers were too strong and totally overpowered the ham layer.

From my testing notes:

Blargh! Totally disgusting! Made me gag. I could barely get one mouthful down.

Don’t get me wrong. I love tomato juice. I love cream cheese. I even love ham salad. But this was an abomination. In the future I will enjoy all these flavors separately, and shall never mix them again!

The Verdict: Nasty.

Congrats to thatmidcenturyfella, the first finalist for the Worst Gelatin Recipe!

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

  1. Sara In AZ June 6, 2012 at 9:56 am - Reply

    Oh gosh, that Ham Loaf looks positively dreadful. I’m with you and would have gagged on one little bite! Props to Tom for having a stomach of iron!!! 🙂 This is gonna be awesome!!!!

    • RetroRuth June 12, 2012 at 5:20 pm - Reply

      It was pretty bad, Sara!

  2. veg-o-matic June 6, 2012 at 10:41 am - Reply

    Huh. Truthfully, it doesn’t look that bad. Ham salad? Cream cheese? Those can make up for a lot of things. Not jiggly tomato juice, though.
    And I’m reeeeeeeeally kind of skeeved over how it seems to be deconstructing itself on Tom’s plate. Like it has become sentient and is trying to make a break for it.

    • RetroRuth June 12, 2012 at 5:20 pm - Reply

      You know, that’s what I thought too, until I had a bite of this thing. I like all these things. It can’t possibly be bad.

  3. Silvercat June 6, 2012 at 12:09 pm - Reply

    It kind of looks like lasagna, but very very wrong.

  4. Andrea June 7, 2012 at 12:28 am - Reply

    Tom looks like he is seriously questioning why he took that first bite!

    • RetroRuth June 12, 2012 at 5:21 pm - Reply

      I know, right?

  5. P'Gell June 7, 2012 at 12:48 pm - Reply

    MMMM. I have a recipe for dinner tonight. 😉


  6. Adam June 12, 2012 at 5:04 pm - Reply

    Are you guys sure that wasn’t supposed to be an entree at all, but rather a dip or layered spread of some kind? I can’t help but think that abomination would be tolerable on a Ritz cracker.

    • RetroRuth June 12, 2012 at 5:19 pm - Reply

      That’s a pretty low goal, isn’t it Adam? That by putting it on a cracker, it might be “tolerable”? 🙂 Well, at least you are realistic.

      I don’t think it really matters if it is a main course, a snack, or even a dessert. It’s still bad. It’s possible that you could choke this down with crackers, yes. It would be a good delivery system, and probably cut down on the gagging. But it’s still bad.

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