I donâ€™t really believe in coincidences since my last visit to Palmyra, New York, where I learned of the deep relationship between jello and Mormonism
As we all know, Palmyra, New York is the location of the Sacred Grove, the Hill Cumorah, and the Joseph Smith, Sr. homestead where the Prophet Joseph lived during the dramatic opening days of the restoration.
It is little know by Latter-day Saints, however, that just a short way down the road from Palmyra sits the town of LeRoy, New York, a place that if not freighted with the eternal significance of Palmyra is still a spot picked by Destiny (or Providence!) for a truely significant event. For it was in the town of LeRoy that true jello was first made.
LeRoy is not the site of the invention of gelatin itself, as some local boosters will tell you. Gelatin, however, was invented by a New Yorker. Peter Cooper (pictured to the right) was an entrepreur and the owner of a glue factory. It seems to have been his wife (I was, alas, unable to locate a picture of the mysterious Mrs. Cooper) who first came up with the idea of eating the by products of the glue factory. In 1845, Mr. Cooper recorded the first ever patent for jello. However, this miracle food remained largely unappreciated until 1897, when a genius in the town of Le Roy hit upon the idea of adding flavoring to gelatin. Thus, true jello was born.
Now the cynics among you may chalk this up to coincidence. But I canâ€™t help but feeling that there is some great cosmic significance in the fact that both the Restoration and jello arose within short distance of one another.
(This is a slightly modified version of this post, which appeared at T&S on 2/23/2004)