Inside the 15,000-Person Online Community Obsessed with Jell-O

“It’s just sort of amazing to see all the different ways people are using it—there’s people slapping and spanking gelatin and it’s wobbly.”

|
Oct 17 2018, 1:00pm

Composite image; left image courtesy Maddie Keesling, right image courtesy Kathleen Gros

A towering pearl-colored creation. A video of a chicken pecking at a lobster-shaped gelatin monstrosity filled with shrimp. A lustrous Bundt cake–shaped mound that may or may not contain eyeshadow. A can of Mountain Dew, some loose weed buds, and a handful of Flamin’ Hot Cheetos suspended in clear gelatin.

These are all images you’ll find on “Show Me Your Aspics,” a Facebook group with a simple description—“let’s get jiggly.”

The group is devoted to gelatin, Jell-O, jellies, aspics and anything and everything that wobbles. Since its founding three years ago, ‘Show Me Your Aspics’ has swelled to encompass over 15,000 members around the world.

1539706245471-Jello_5_Credit_Maddie_Keesling
Fortune cookie by Maddie Keesling. Photo courtesy of the artist.

Members share and comment everything from vintage Jell-O salad recipes and advertisements to images of their own recent creations. In addition to image and text posts, there are, of course, also “jiggle vids”—videos of members slapping, poking and prodding various jellied creations.

Founder Maggie Parrish says the group’s interests are diverse.

“It’s just sort of amazing to see all the different ways people are using it—there’s people slapping and spanking gelatin and it’s wobbly,” she says. “Then you know there’s a post of the big chubby animal that’s being wobbled around. You can’t have a bad time.”

Parrish founded the group after encountering negativity in other online food groups. The Denver mom says that in the current political climate, she hopes her group provides a positive refuge.

“The past three years, not just on Facebook but in the world, things have been really gross and sort of dismal and sort of a big fat bummer,” Parrish says. “As far as escaping the gloominess of everyday life, that’s what you can find in Show Me Your Aspics.”

Judey Bachmaga lives in Germany and is one of the group’s administrators. She says moderating the group mostly involves separating out repeat posts, but that the administrators try to give members as much freedom as possible with their Jell-O posting.

“Our general rule is: if it jiggles, it stays. People have pushed that as far as it can go,” Bachmaga says. “We just want to see people having fun with gelatin, really. Even if it’s inedible at the end of the day, if they’ve had fun making it and it has some kind of aesthetic allure then it’s a winner for me.”

Vancouver-based cartoonist Kathleen Gros joined the group last year. She says the community inspired her to try to make a gelatin dessert every month for 2018.

“My mom and I were in Value Village and found an old glass mold for Jell-O, so I made one in that and that like kicked it off,” she says. “That was the first one. I haven’t hit quite every single month, but I’ve made quite a few this year.”

Gros’s creations include a shell-shaped Jell-O featuring layers of cream and earl grey flavored gelatin, as well as a panna cotta featuring the colors of the trans pride flag. She says her favorite recent creation was a multi-layered rainbow tower that “leveled up” her Jell-O skills.

Keesling points to pop culture like LMFAO’s song “Sexy And I Know It”—which features the lyrics “wiggle wiggle wiggle wiggle wiggle, yeah”—as encapsulating why people love wiggles so much.

“The thing about Jell-O, it’s not actually that hard at all. You just need to have a fridge and a timer,” she says. “Usually I pour in the first layer and you let it partially set, but don’t like let it set overnight. For the rainbow one I had timers going for three and 13-minute intervals for over five hours.”

1539705900318-Jello_3_Credit_Kathleen_Gros
One of Kathleen Gros' aspics. Photo courtesy of Kathleen Gros.

Gros likes ‘Show Me Your Aspics’ because the of the community the group provides.

“It’s like the only good thing about Facebook right now,” Gros says. “It’s just wild. It’s this bizarre community who are just into Jell-O to varying degrees. Mostly people just post pictures and videos of the Jell-Os that they’ve made and people comment on it being like ‘gorgeous, give me the recipe, what are your unmolding tips?’”

Maddie Keesling lives in southern California and joined the group last year. She—along with her father, who regularly appears in her videos—has gained popularity on the group for her artistic creations, such as a fortune cookie and rice suspended in perfectly clear gelatin and a gelatin dome featuring a dismembered Barbie head with glowing red eyes.

Keesling says the irony of the whole thing is that she doesn’t actually like eating Jell-O.

“I was dumping it into the sink because nobody in the house likes eating Jell-O,” she says. “We had some issues where our sink got clogged because of all of the gelatin, so we had to start putting all of it in a bucket, so now we have this bucket by our trash can filled to the brim with gelatin and gelatin water.”

Keesling says the bucket may very well become its own creation.

“I personally was thinking of doing something absolutely heinous with the bucket, and that’s melting it all down and making a new Jell-O,” she says. “But I could only imagine how nasty that would be.”

When asked what it is about gelatin that is so appealing, everyone agreed that it’s all about the jiggle. Keesling points to pop culture like LMFAO’s song “Sexy And I Know It”—which features the lyrics “wiggle wiggle wiggle wiggle wiggle, yeah”—as encapsulating why people love wiggles so much.

“There’s something otherworldly about it, it doesn’t have any physics to it whatsoever, it just—it jiggles, it’s all powerful, it’s all mighty, you’re kind of scared of it a little bit,” she says. “It just jiggles.”

Both Keesling and Gros say they’ll continue contributing the group for the foreseeable future. Parrish, Bachmaga and the other administrators hope to one day release a coffee table book collecting the various Jell-O creations from the group. They want the community to continue growing, so long as it maintains the supportive and creative atmosphere.

“For other people who would be interested in joining the group, I would just like to suggest that they be as creative and free as they can think,” Bachmaga says. “In the end, it’s just a fun group. It’s wholesome. It’s friendly. It’s nice. It’s like an escape.”