Ingredients Inside: Jell-O

Ingredients Inside: Jell-O

So, color me out of The Know. I hadn’t heard of Jell-O cookies until last week when Little Chef and I discovered some on Instagram. Very cool. Kinda’ odd. Jell-O in cookies? Why not?

I won’t mislead you, though. Truth is, I don’t eat the jiggly stuff. It’s a texture issue, mainly. OK, it’s also an ingredient issue. (Don’t worry, Jell-O IS gluten-free. It’s the other ingredients that I’m referring to. You can read Kraft Foods’ statement regarding Jell-O and other Kraft foods in my post with the recipe here.)

So, why did we make our own gluten-free version of Jell-O cookies? My cookin’ curiosity, I suppose. I didn’t really want to eat them. I just wanted to make them. It happens a lot in my kitchen. You understand, don’t you? ;)

Anyway, I had to know what Jell-O could add to a cookie to make it…better. Or at least good. (Not much you can’t get with all-natural colors and flavors, in my opinion. You can even make your own natural food colorings like I do!)

Of course, if you’re curious like me and want to try your own Jell-O cookies (I did share our recipe in case you want it) , or if you just like a cool jiggly treat on occasion, I thought you’d also be curious about the Ingredients Inside.

But before we get to the nitty-gritty…

Please don’t leave a comment about how no one should eat Jell-O because it is unhealthy or has food additives that are toxic or artificial dye.

In the Gluten Free Gigi Family, we do not judge. It’s not my job to tell you what to eat. It’s not your job to tell anyone else what to eat, either. We are all individuals at different points on the path to optimal health. Some folks want to eat gelatin with red dye and sugar while others want to nosh on dandelion greens. Some are between those two extremes. So what? I’m here to serve ALL of you. The FACT is many of you want to know about the Ingredients Inside popular packaged foods. I’ve done the research, I’ve spoken to the company and now, I’m sharing my fact-based “Smart Nutrition Backed by Science” with you to make it easier for you to decide whether this product is for you or not.

Do not harm the messenger. ;)

Now, let’s take a look at both types of Jell-O – sugar-laden and artificial sweetener-laden. First, the sugar-full… (I chose strawberry flavor because it is one of the most popular. The ingredients are very similar for all flavors.)

Ingredients Inside: Jell-O

Strawberry Jell-O Ingredients:

SUGAR, GELATIN, ADIPIC ACID (FOR TARTNESS), CONTAINS LESS THAN 2% OF ARTIFICIAL FLAVOR, DISODIUM PHOSPHATE AND SODIUM CITRATE (CONTROL ACIDITY), FUMARIC ACID (FOR TARTNESS), RED 40.

Sugar - We all know what sugar is, but I will add this for those concerned about GMOs - much of the sugar used in products in the US market comes from sugar beets, which may be genetically engineered.

Gelatin – If you are vegan, you probably already know gelatin is derived from the collagen in animal tissues. While gelatin can be derived from everything from hooves to horns (seriously),  the majority of food-grade gelatin comes from beef or pig skin. (Does this gross you out at all?)

Adipic Acid – This ingredient occurs naturally some foods like beets and sugar cane, but the adipic acid used in foods is man-made via a series of chemical reactions involving ingredients most have never heard of – cyclohexanol, cyclohexanone, nitric acid and the list goes on. While most (about 90%) of adipic acid manufactured is used in industrial applications (like making nylon and plastics), the rest is used in foods.

Besides providing the tartness and gel texture in Jell-O, adipic acid is found in some of the following (again, SOME, not all; be sure to read labels) carbonated beverages, fruit juices, powdered food and drink mixes, imitation flavorings, dairy products and in condiments like pickles and relish.

Certain medicines (some controlled release drugs) and some throat lozenges contain adipic acid, too.

Adipic acid is considered a mild skin irritant, as all acids are. In foods, very small amounts are used.

Disodium phosphate – This food additive shows up in so many foods and requires a bit more explanation than others, so I created a separate resource for you. Please see Food Additives: Disodium Phosphate for the details.

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