COOPERMADE: Jell-O

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Peter Cooper gelatine

Peter Cooper: Industrialist, Philanthropist, and...Inventor of Jell-O? 


In addition to many other entrepreneurial pursuits, Peter Cooper owned a factory that produced glue and gelatin from animal by-products. Gelatin, the pure protein extracted from boiled animal bones, had been discovered over a century earlier, but its consumer appeal and applications were limited. Applying his unlimited curiosity and ingenuity to the humble product, Cooper discovered a method to produce powdered gelatin that could be packaged and sold for use by home cooks. He secured a patent for the manufacturing process for “portable gelatin” in 1845. The product was colorless and unflavored, but recipe books tucked into its packaging suggested adding fruit juice and sugar and using decorative copper molds to set it into attractive shapes. In 1895, Cooper sold the patent to cough syrup manufacturer Pearl Wait, whose wife May named the product “Jell-O.” It took some time to catch on, but in 1904 an aggressive marketing campaign under the slogan “America’s Favorite Dessert” started a Jell-O craze that changed home cooking for the first half of the 20th century. 

 

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  • Founded by inventor, industrialist and philanthropist Peter Cooper in 1859, The Cooper Union for the Advancement of Science and Art offers education in art, architecture and engineering, as well as courses in the humanities and social sciences.

  • “My feelings, my desires, my hopes, embrace humanity throughout the world,” Peter Cooper proclaimed in a speech in 1853. He looked forward to a time when, “knowledge shall cover the earth as waters cover the great deep.”

  • From its beginnings, Cooper Union was a unique institution, dedicated to founder Peter Cooper's proposition that education is the key not only to personal prosperity but to civic virtue and harmony.

  • Peter Cooper wanted his graduates to acquire the technical mastery and entrepreneurial skills, enrich their intellects and spark their creativity, and develop a sense of social justice that would translate into action.