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JELL-O was first patented in 1845 by inventor, industrialist and philanthropist Peter Cooper. Although packaged in its signature small boxes with directions for use, JELL-O didn't catch on or get its name until 1897, when Pearle and Mary Wait of LeRoy, New York, developed fruit flavors such as strawberry, raspberry, orange and lemon. Today, despite hectic modern lifestyles, JELL-O remains a relatively easy dessert to make -- and takes little time to prepare.

Prep Time

JELL-O takes about five or six minutes to prepare. You need a pot, mixing bowl, whisk and measuring cup, in addition to a package of JELL-O. Boil a cup of water, which takes approximately two minutes. Pour the boiling water over the powder in your mixing bowl and whisk the mixture for approximately two minutes until the powder is completely dissolved. Add one cup cold water and whisk again for one minute for the best consistency at the end product.

Set Time

The secret to good JELL-O is thoroughly mixing the powder into the water before chilling. Otherwise, you'll end up with JELL-O that's too watery, too rubbery, or has a thick, hard skin on the top. Once the JELL-O is thoroughly mixed, place it in the vessel in which you want it to set, which takes approximately four hours. JELL-O is ready to eat when it appears firm and jiggly.

Homemade JELL-O

Homemade JELL-O takes 10 to 15 minutes of preparation, but gives you the advantage of creating your own unique flavor. Use one tablespoon of gelatin, 3/4 cup of sweetener and one tablespoon of Kool-Aid powder. Combine the gelatin with one cup of boiling water. Add the Kool-Aid powder and sugar, whisking until thoroughly dissolved. Add one cup of cold water and stir. If needed, add more Kool-Aid to increase the fruit flavor. Chilling time for homemade JELL-O is four hours.

Speed-Set JELL-O

Save time and speed-set your JELL-O, using 3/4 cup of boiling water and 1/2 cup of ice. Add cold water to the ice, making 1-1/4 cup of water and ice. Stir in the ice water until the mixture becomes slightly thick. Before putting the JELL-O in the refrigerator to chill, remove any unmelted ice. Speed set JELL-O takes 30 to 90 minutes to set.