If you've ever picked up a cookbook from the 1950s, chances are you'll stumble upon a chapter specifically catered to jello salad recipes. Usually served at the neighborhood BBQ potluck alongside the potato salad, retro gelatin salads were all the rage. Recently I stumbled upon a recipe for Circus Peanut Jello Salad and couldn't help but question how this fruity circus peanut jello salad tasted. So obviously I had to try it for myself.
When I was a kid, one of my absolute favorite candies were Circus Peanuts. Created in the 1800s, Circus Peanut Candy is an old-fashioned candy that tastes like bananas. Yes, really, bananas! It took me until very recently to realize that the marshmallow candy that looks like peanuts tastes like bananas. One taste and it brings back memories of childhood.
Spangler, the candy company that produces Dum-Dum lollipops, and most recently Necco Wafers, started producing Circus Peanut candy back in the 1940s and is known as one of the largest manufactures of the peanut-shaped candy today. The candy was originally sold as a Spring item in 5-cent and 10-cent variety stores. Then in the 1940s, the invention of polyethylene film helped make it possible to keep the candy fresh year-round. Today the candy comes in a variety of flavors and colors including, vanilla (white), lemon (yellow), cherry (red), and banana (orange).
How to Make Circus Peanut Jello Salad
To begin, cut candies into small pieces and place them in a microwave-safe bowl. Add boiling water and cover and microwave until melted and smooth.
In a large bowl add the orange gelatin and dissolve with the remaining hot water. Stir in the melted candy mixture as well as the crushed pineapple. Place in the fridge and chill until partly-set, about 30 minutes.
Remove from the fridge and fold in the Cool Whip whipped topping. Pour the gelatin mixture into a 9x9 baking dish or gelatin mold and chill until firm. Top the orange jello salad with Circus Peanut candies.
Is this the weirdest retro recipe in existence? Not likely. One bite of this dessert recipe and I can assure you that, although it's weird, it's got a fluffy charm all Grandmas love.
Circus Peanut Jello Salad
- 25 Circus Peanuts, divided
- 1/2 cup boiling water, divided
- 1 3-oz package orange gelatin
- 1 8-oz can crushed pineapple, undrained
- 1 cup frozen whipped topping, thawed
- Set 9 circus peanut candies aside. Place remaining candy in a microwave-safe bowl. Add 2 Tbsp boiling water and cover. Microwave until melted and smooth, about 1-2 minutes.
- In a large bowl add the orange gelatin and dissolve with the remaining hot water. Stir in the melted candy mixture as well as the crushed pineapple. Place in the fridge and chill until partly-set, about 30 minutes.
- Remove from the fridge and fold in the Cool Whip whipped topping. Pour the mixture into a 9x9 baking dish or gelatin mold and chill until firm. Top the orange jello salad with Circus Peanut candy.