Home Uncategorized Why Do We Love Jiggling Foods So Much?

Why Do We Love Jiggling Foods So Much?


Over a thousand years dishes that wobble and wiggle have been a staple of precarious times. IN A VIDEO clip shared to Instagram, a jelly shimmies. It resembles a Bundt-shaped Bundt cake with its fluted curves. Ornate jellies can also be found online, including 18th-century British molds with high, gooey, swirling spires and cheesecakes, which seem to vibrate yet are solid, but still appear solid.

These are Japanese cotton cheesecakes. They were named for their lightness. The egg whites are whipped into stiff peaks before being baked in a hot water bath. Sometimes, the oscillations slow down to a tidal wave. Sometimes, a human hand will enter the frame to give a cheesecake a bounce.

Or, in a new trend, use a spoon to scrape the bottom of a tiny gelatinous bunny or pig.

This reminds us that food cannot move by itself; it is alive.


How can a disembodied gesture without agency or intent gain acceptance in a culture? In recent years, jelly has been the exemplar of quivering foods.

They have been both hilarious and fascinating. While there are many Instagram accounts and groups dedicated to serious gelatin experiments, raw footage of a jelly-like blob, shaken just enough to make it heaves can easily attract thousands of viewers.

Bompas & Parr, British chefs, opened the Jelladrome in London’s Arcade Food Hall, offering jelly shots and teetering trifles. This was perhaps in homage to 18th-century jelly houses, which were similar to ice cream parlors, and was a popular place to try out “rakes, girls of the town”.

But wobbly dishes are not new to cooking. After the domestication of fowl in Roman territory, the ancient Romans created proto-custards from surplus eggs.

The technique was lost with fall of empire, but was later rediscovered by Europeans. Flan was included in the Spanish culinary bible and was introduced to the Mexican and Philippine cuisines via conquistadors.

In the Baghdadi cookbook, “Annals of Caliphs’ Kitchen”, a recipe for qaris (fish tongues suspended in a broth of fish heads boiled with vinegar) is found. By the 14th century, gelatin had been recognized as both practical and luxurious.

Peasants nourished

Peasants nourished themselves with slabs of cheese and aspics. Europe’s upper classes could send servants to watch over large pots of bone, hides, and hooves. Once they were boiled, collagen was extracted from the bones.

This is the fiber-like protein that is the main ingredient of connective tissue. The 14-century French cookbook Le Viandier advises that “Whoever wants a gelee must never sleep.”

Today’s instabile centerpieces are reminiscent of their predecessors and offer an atmosphere of spectacle, provocation, and a sense beyond the way they tremble. YouTube tutorials show how to use syringes filled with liquid jelly to make flowers bloom in clear domes.

Victorian paperweights

This reminds me of Victorian paperweights. The forthcoming cookbook-manifesto, “The Great Gelatin Revival” by Ken Albala, a California-based historian, includes an aspic recipe to make whole baby octopuses that are encased in sake jelly.

You can order online a cheesecake with an edible orange-pink baby encased in jelly (from Nunchi bakery Los Angeles), or a kit to make mizu-shingen mochi (from New York’s Raindrop Cake). This Japanese cake is a giant raindrop that tastes mostly of water and defies Western understandings.

Many people focus on the wobble, and have created GIFs and videos of the GIFs of short videos of the wobble of many jellies, flans, and puddings.

Their only distinctive feature is their ability to shudder. The most striking GIF is the one from the 1993 blockbuster “Jurassic Park”, when the vibrations caused by a spoonful green Jell-O become seismic. GIFs are short and can be loaded in a matter seconds.

This is because they have no limitations on their length. You can see the terror in the “Jurassic“, cut before you reach the punchline. The scene where the girl holding the Jell-O spoon has seen the shadows of velociraptors and is now facing her demise.

cyclical pattern

  • Albala suggests that there is a “cyclical pattern” in society’s response to strangely animate foods. She says that “Periods of acceptance of the jiggle are always followed with periods of disgust sometimes so intense that entire generations lose their skill in making them.
  • ” Is it because we have become used to precarity as a way to live, with the threat from pandemics barely contained and the global economic system just a wobble away in recession? Are we also facing the raptor
  • In the first half of the 20th Century, new immigrants to the United States were detained at Ellis Island and faced with Jell-O plates. These jelly-like confections, which may have been intended to evoke the queasy feeling of recent sea voyages, were made of a powdered gelatin. It was first patented in 1845 as a flavorless, “portable gelatin”.
  • The public did not take much notice of it. In the late 1890s, the name was changed with food coloring, juices and sugar. It was then mass-marketed as America’s most popular dessert in the early 1900s.
  • Advertising is a self-fulfilling prophe The capitalized, half-ejected O in the name was part the attempt to charm. It was playful and as round a gaping mouth as an exclamation, gasp, or cheer.
  • However, the Ellis Island National Museum of Immigration has an archive of oral stories that shows how immigrants seeking refuge in America were sometimes confused by this supposed model of American cuisine. One teenager from Ukraine who was going through a terrible famine in which as many as 2 million people died, said, “Oh, it shivers.”
  • He recalled seeing the dessert in 1923. One other, who fled wartime France in 1941 was haunted decades later, by the traumatizing memory of Jell O. He said, “When it saw it, I got sick. That wobbly thing.” It was horrible. It was horrible.


  • Jell-O was a new experience for these immigrants. Gelatinized foods were a part of European food culture for a long time. However, it was difficult to make a reliable clear, firm and consistent jelly from the basic ingredients until the late 19th-century, according to Peter Brears, a British food historian. Science and technology advances were necessary to create gelling agents that are quick acting and affordable.
  • Capitalism was also needed to make them household staples. Jell-O, the name of the granulated gelatin product as well as the dessert it was made, is a sign of a new way to not only cook but also live.
  • This gave it the appearance of artifice which may explain some of its unease. Jell-O was almost unnatural due to the flawless smoothness of its surfaces. It seemed as though it had been created by no force other than its creators. It could be argued that it falls under the umbrella of what Roland Barthes (French literary theorist) described as an “ornamental” type of cooking.
  • He said that it was based on “coatings and alibis” and “is for ever trying to extenuate or even to hide the primary nature of foodstuffs”. This is to say that it is a form of “brutality,” which is the need of food and the violence and toil involved in making it.
  • Think about the 10th century ur-jelly, also known as qaris. Nawal Nasrallah, an Iraqi food historian, notes that one guest was shocked to discover that 150 tongues were used to make the dish.
  • It was not the fact that so many fish had been sacrificed for a single meal or the labour required to achieve such a fleeting pleasure. Blancmange, an almond-and-chicken stew, that had by the 18th century drifted into sweets and evolved into a shyly quailing milk pudding, is similar to Blancmange.
  • These qualities were made possible by Hartshorn, shavings of severed deer and isinglass or fish swim bladders.
  • Jell-O has so many similarities to the medieval pot boiling hooves, that some question whether it should even be considered an animal product. Marjorie Garber, an American cultural critic, recounts in “Symptoms of Culture” (1998) that Kraft General Foods published a brochure in 1993 stating that Jell-O is no longer a medieval pot of boiling hooves.
  • It is also an obliging carrier of other flavors. As a dish freed from its origins, it can assume any meaning and narrative. Jell-O was viewed by American home cooks as a time-saving marvel and a way to make vegetables look neater.
  • Laura Shapiro, a culinary historian, writes in “Perfection Salad” (1986) that Jell-O was viewed as “a kind of food”. Jell-O’s delicate and tidiness could be seen as a sign of femininity. It also covers the more feminine, but dangerously indecorous, act of eating, which “as far a gently raised woman of their time were concerned,… was not to to be considered a pleasure other than with great discretion.”
  • Jell-O’s non-food qualities may have been its downfall. After being a household staple for decades, it started to lose popularity in the 1970s and 1980s when the countercultural movement pushed the rest of society away corporate processed foods. The nostalgia for a childhood treat may partly explain the current interest in wagging jellies.
  •  Some modern versions have a mocking self-consciousness, an awareness of the form and its separation from the content. It is possible to see the familiar in a new way. Solid Wiggles in Brooklyn has created a jelly cake with blood red eyes that is full of bright eyeballs.
  • It is not delicate, but it draws attention to gelatin as a human and animal substance. It is easy to reduce what holds a body together into something unstable and unresolved. We will always remember.
  • “WATCH THAT WOBBLE” was the 1980s jingle. It is short and simple, yet it never stops, primal, and historical, making it a great fit for an Instagram video clip or GIF. It never stops, it keeps going back, always wobbling, going nowhere and rejecting narrative, learning little.
  • It wouldn’t be nice, though, to not be required to communicate meaning, or to build an argument that leads to a satisfying conclusion. It may be a trap, a vicious cycle that, according to Chris Baraniuk, “implicitly begs for to be stopped” — or even a promise of eternal life.
  • We are the ones who decide whether to stop the loop, go with it, flip to another screen, or step away from the phone.
  • Are we really in control? You can also look at the wobble as a mistake, a glitch in our system. This is another way to see it. Rosa Menkman, a Dutch artist, defines a glitch to be “a break from an expected or convention flow of information and meaning.

” We don’t expect our food will frolic on the plates. These jigglers have a disconcerting throb, a constant insistence on being between solid and liquid, not quite pacified.

They are fundamentally disobedient and eat foods that move when they should be stationary. This makes us think about how many people eat live animals with the slaughter kept offstage or with their life force still intact: shrimp in liquor brine, for example, or snakes with their beating hearts.

They are like computer glitches and belie our illusions of authority, hinting to a ghost in a machine. They can’t move unless we shake them. Their independence is a illusion; we can eat them without fear of retaliation.

This means that we are the ones who introduce the error. We try to disrupt and disturb the peacefulness of our own lives or to enact our fears of disaster in the most benign and consoling forms.

Because it is a story with a moral: It falls but wobbles.

Suea. Digital tech: Sarah Gardner. Minah Kwon, assistant to the food stylist

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