Jello salad: the words conjure up '50s kitsch and the weirdest of weird American Technicolor desserts from a bygone era when people thought Cheez Whiz was healthy. Jello salad, and gelatin more broadly, have a history in America that's more than just a jiggly sidenote—and you can learn all about it at the upcoming Morbid Anatomy Museum lecture "Tasteless: An Illustrated History of Jello Salad."

New York School of Burlesque Headmistress Jo Weldon will be popping up at Morbid Anatomy on November 1st to guide people through the history of gelatin on the American dinner table, from its debut as a delicacy for the rich to a staple every mom could serve her family.

Weldon told us that she'll be "covering everything from the origins of edible gelatin to jello wrestling in my lecture." The main theme of the lecture will be "about the role of women in the 'American dream' household and how it has evolved through changing ideals of family life and revolutions in technology."

"I think people will be surprised when they look at the impact jello has had on pop culture," Weldon said, something she'll teach attendees by talking about old ads for Jello and other edible gelatin products to show what they revealed about the culture of the time.

A variety of old Jello ads. (via Jo Weldon)

And not only will you get a lesson on gelatin's place in American history, but you'll also be able to chow down on a variety of Jello salads. Before the lecture, Weldon will be hosting a competition between volunteers who will be bringing their own Jello salads, which the audience can eat and judge. Weldon said there are six entrants so far, with space for a couple more (email her at if you want in). Some of the entrants are fellow burlesque performers, but Weldon promised "it's the Jello that will be doing all the shimmying at this competition."

Tasteless: An Illustrated History of Jello Salad: Illustrated Lecture and Jello Salad Contest with Jo Weldon will take place at 7 p.m. on Monday, November 1st at the Morbid Anatomy Museum (424A Third Avenue, Brooklyn). $10