On rather shakey ground.

It may not be earth shattering, but at least it's plate shaking (and apparently many a young woman was jealous of the well-known sister Kate who really knew how to shake). Various web sources tell us that is was on this day, in 1897 that the well known gellatin dessert Jell-O was first marketed. The first patent for a gellatin dessert was issued more than fifty years earlier to Peter Turner who also was the inventor of the Tom Thumb locomotive that holds the honor of being mentioned in these date tie-ins not once, but twice: here, and here. Inventing both a locomotive and a gellatin dessert suggests a wide range of interests, but I honestly know close to nothing about Turner.

Though a patent was issued much earlier, it took half a century until Pearle B. Wait, a carptener and cough medicine manufacturer, marketed the stuff in fruit flavors, and perhaps more successfully, until his wife, May Davis Wait, gave it a catchy name. The rest, as they say, is history. A timeline of that history can be found on a sub-site devoted to Jell-O on the Kraft Foods web site. Somewhere along the line that conglomerate apparently ate it all up. From that timeline we learn that in 1991 the Smithsonian Institution devoted a conference to Jell-O. I have no information on anyone trying to Paint By Numbers with Jell-O, however.

Jell-o isn't the most malleable of materials, but it certainly can adapt itself to whatever shape it's offered. Perhaps that suggests a bit of a similarity to the question of identity on the internet. It's not exactly "you are what you pretend to be", but maybe "you are the shape you're poured into" isn't all that different.

Go to: Mother Night on the web.