It’s another nerd out on Jell-O history week, and this week we are going to be looking at the different Jell-O advertisement Illustrators from 1902 to the 1960s. I have the Jell-O Gallery & Museum to thank for all of this information. There is no way I would have access to such glory on my own, and I am very thankful they put this mini-display together in their museum to document all this great Jell-O artwork. Seriously, if you live near this museum or are planning a trip to upstate New York, this place is a must stop. Now, onto the Jell-O artists!
Black and White
The first print ad from 1902. This ad was run in the Ladies Home Journal magazine and cost $336.
Most early Jell-O advertising featured women in starched white aprons, Jell-O packaging or the Jell-O Girl, Elizabeth King. King was photographed playing with Jell-O boxes until she grew too old for the ads. After that, her portrait was used in Jell-O advertising.
Early Color Ads
Hooray for color! It shows how glorious Jell-O truly is. Or…how terrifying. It all depends on how you look at it.
Interesting Factoid: The Jell-O logo was printed in green in some of the early ads, though the green was never used on the boxes.
Interestingly, Stoops was not a Jell-O illustrator at all. He sketched scenes while serving in the army during World War I, and Jell-O had them published into a book that was distributed at American Legion posts.
Rose O’Neill is probably best known for sketches of Elizabeth King, the Jell-O Girl after Elizabeth grew too old to be an adorable tot in photos. These sketches have been attributed to her, even though this is just a general belief. She also designed the early Jell-O Kewpies. She did illustrations for Jell-O for 20 years.
It’s Normal Rockwell!!! Unfortunately, neither of his original illustrations for Jell-O survived.
This was a really exciting one because the original portrait painted by Linn Ball was displayed in the gallery at the museum. You can see a picture of it above. In-person it was glorious. That unmolded gelatin was luminous!!!
John N. Howitt
John Newton Howitt illustrated lots of social event advertising, showing people congregating around a beautiful Jell-O. My favorite is the one above, where a home economics teacher is showing off a lovely Jell-O to her students.
Norman Price is mostly known for his illustrations of historical documentaries, but he also did advertising for Jell-O, Coca Cola and Metropolitan Insurance. And, I’m pretty sure that little girl dreaming about Jell-O is an accurate portrait of myself these days. Except in my dreams, my gelatins always seem to have olives in them.
Marion Powers is known for her large mural in the Canadian Pacific Railway Hotel, but she also created many still-life gelatin advertisements for Jell-O. These still life gelatin advertisements were carefully curated by Powers to have a cultural theme.
Maxfield Parrish, Coles Phillips, and Hayden Hayden
These hilarious and fanciful designs were done by Angus MacDonnall, who did many illustrations for Jell-O. He is probably best known for the illustration of the man trying to beat the train to save his box of Jell-O, but I love the one with Robinson Caruso reading the back of a box of gelatin.
Guy Rowe is another still-life artist that gave Jell-O many shimmering advertisements, many of which were painted on acetate. His ad with two women pictured above was only ever published once. The ad started a scandal with consumers because up until that time Jell-O had been depicted in “family-oriented” images.
Helen Hokinson was chosen by Jell-O during World War II rationing to make a humorous campaign of drawings about the Jell-O shortage.
“Now Is The Time For Jell-O” Campaign
The “Now Is The Time For Jell-O” campaign was the first major advertising campaign for Jell-O after World War II was over. The campaign featured famous illustrators like Stan and Jan Berenstain of the Berenstain Bears, Hank Ketcham who created Denise the Menace, and William Steig, who wrote the children’s book “Shrek”.
Nursery Rhyme Campaign
I love this campaign! In it, Jell-O is injected in a bunch of children’s nursery rhymes. I always thought these awfully clever.
Jell-O Animals Campaign
Another hugely successful campaign featured animals chowing their way through some wobbly molds. This campaign was so well-loved, Jell-O released art prints of the animals without their captions that were meant to be framed, and the animals were also turned into miniatures.
“It’s National Jell-O Week” Campaign
And finally, National Jell-O Week! This campaign ran at the same time that TV ads for “National Bellow for Jell-O Week” were airing on I Love Lucy, Lunch with Soupy Sales and Hennesey.
Whew! Well, that was some fun advertising, huh? And maybe now when you come across a Jell-O ad or pamphlet in the wild you will be able to spot some of these lovely illustrations. It was so interesting to see the changing themes and styles over time, too.
And I am kinda excited to make a giant Jell-O firecracker for next Fourth of July.