A Straight Dope Classic from Cecil's Storehouse of Human Knowledge

Why you can't put pineapple in Jell-O

November 29, 1974

Dear Cecil:

Here is a question that has plagued me ever since I was breaking up with my last girlfriend and wandered around my empty apartment in a daze staring fixedly at random objects. Once I stared fixedly at the back of a box of Jell-O. I saw something that made me stare at another box, and another (my old girlfriend liked Jell-O). Anyway, here's the question: why is it that every Jell-O package says not to add fresh or frozen pineapples? And why is there no pineapple-flavored Jell-O, only orange-pineapple? Occasionally I still sink into morbid brooding about this, particularly when having trouble with my new girlfriend. Only you can help.

Cecil replies:

Man, does Ann Landers get letters like this? If you put fresh pineapple in your Jell-O, you'll end up with pineapple floating in Kool-Aid. Pineapples naturally contain a chemical substance that inhibits jelling. Cooking the fruit drives the substance out, and that's why only fresh and fresh-frozen varieties are prohibited.

None of this has anything to do with the question of why there is no pineapple-flavored Jell-O. General Foods generally decides such things on the basis of consumer preference surveys. To date no great yearning for pineapple Jell-O has been detected, so they don't make it.

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