1919 Jell-o Advertisement

Source: American Cookery (January, 1919)

A 1919 Jello advertisement treats measles as a common ailment, and suggests that children who are sick with the measles might enjoy eating Jell-o while they recuperate. The first measles vaccines were introduced during the 1960s, and the Measles, Mumps, and Rubella (MRR) vaccine was introduced in 1973.

47 thoughts on “1919 Jell-o Advertisement

  1. And what irony that the highest percentage of non-vaccinators in our country are well educated people who should know better, while mothers in an assortment of developing countries flock to vaccination clinics. In Liberia, the common saying was, “Don’t name your children until the measles has passed.” With a mortality rate of around 50% in the under-fives, it was good advice.

    1. I once worked with a woman who grew up in Cameroon. She told me about the custom of not naming children until they were over a year old. It is the saddest thing I have ever heard.

  2. That’s one charming advertisement! Good old jello .. somethings are still as good as back then. I have had all three plus chicken pox but I can’t recall eating jello…just remember moms cool hand keeping check on my hot forehead.

    1. I also had all three. My mother gave me frozen green beans (that were still frozen) to eat when I had a high fever with the measles – and my memory is that those icy beans tasted like the most incredibly wonderful food in my delirium.

  3. When I first viewed the illustration, I wondered what kind of creatures are tormenting that little girl? Then, upon reading the advertisement, I learned they were kewpies. I must say that my mother used jello as the go-to food when we were sick, but no matter
    how delirious I got, I never experienced kewpies.

    1. Yes, I think so. I can remember there being lots of Jello in the refrigerator when I was a candy striper at a hospital years ago. Until I read your comment, I hadn’t realized that there was a Jello museum. — Now that I know about it, I also want to visit it.

    1. It’s wonderful to hear that you enjoy the old ads. I can’t quite picture what chocolate jello must have tasted like. Somehow I want to think that it tasted similar to chocolate pudding – yet actually it would have tasted quite different since Jello doesn’t contain milk.

  4. Wouldn’t the writer be surprised at all the flavors of Jell-O now? I bought a blue-colored one recently because grandson David’s favorite color is blue. We haven’t found the appropriate occasion at which to serve it. Maybe a blue Monday would be proper. Like carolanne78, I wonder what the chocolate one tasted like.

  5. I had all three as a child – chicken pox, measles, mumps – and I also remember being given jello and popsicles. I love both of them to this day.

    I knew there were major complications that can occur from them, but I had no idea the mortality rate could be so high. Don’t get me started on the folly of anti-vaxxers 😡

    1. I also was surprised by the high mortality rate that some of the other commenters cited. I wonder if the morality rate varied by country. The U.S. may have had better medical care in the mid-20th century than some other countries.

  6. I agree with this wonderful advertisement. I always thought that jello is good for what ails you. 🙂
    It’s interesting the illnesses the was common back then. I’m glad we have vaccines now for so many things.

  7. Loved seeing these old ads. I realized my mother was born in 1919 so if she was still living she would be 100 on her birthday this year. Thanks for the memory and interesting articles.

  8. What’s interesting to me is the first sentence, “getting over the measles”. Nowadays you’re not allowed to get the measles. I had them as a child and survived. 🙂

  9. The Kewpies serving Jell-0 takes me back. Though I’ve eaten Jell-O since then, I’m sure the nuns in St. Joseph’s Hospital served me the dessert that slides down so easily when I had my tonsils out as a child.

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