"Red Hot Jello" (also known by other names.  All pictures by Marylin Warner.)

“Red Hot Jello” (also known by other names. All pictures by Marylin Warner.)


Federico Fellini said, “Life is a combination of magic and pasta.”

Maybe he was right, but this soon after Thanksgiving, I suggest you try a different combination: a Red Hot Coke recipe, and a no-entry-fee-but-cash-prizes mini-writing contest.

First the recipe. This is easy, everyone loves it, and it’s been a favorite in our family for a very long time. We don’t remember who first shared it, and we’re not even sure what the actual name is. My grandchildren call it “Red Hot Coke Salad” and “Cinnamon Bubble Salad,” and the picture is above.

Here’s the ultra-easy recipe:

Pour one cup boiling water over one large pkg. of Cherry Jello mixed with 1 cup of red hot candies

Whisk or stir until mixed completely together

Add 1 cup of very cold water and 1 cup of chilled applesauce (we like chunky) and stir well

Stir in one-half cup of cold Coke (or Pepsi)   Pour into a bowl and refrigerate

You can stop here and it’s VERY good. You can make it AMAZING by adding Cool Whip–use creamy.

When the Jello mixture is starting to set up, stir in ½ of a small container of softened Cool Whip and put the mixture back in the refrigerator. When it’s all set up, smooth the other ½ container of Cool Whip across the top.   Serve to rave reviews.

Now that you’re energized, jump right into a very short, make-yourself-think-and-take-a-challenge writing contest. Remember several months ago when I published a blog that included a 10-word-max. writing contest. (Remember Hemingway’s 6-word story: “For Sale: Baby shoes. Never Used.”)

Well this contest gives you much more room to write. Create a piece of prose between 20 words and 40 words that tells, shows or evokes a complete story idea. Oh, and anywhere in the story–just once and ONLY ONCE–use the word “refrigerator.” 

Oh, wow! This ties in with the refrigerated Jello recipe, too! Is that serendipity or what?

The salad can be served any time. The story deadline (submitted online) is next Friday, December 5, before midnight (Eastern Time). No entry free. Cash prizes. Details at: www.OnThePremises.com

Before her dementia, this is the kind of the thing Mom and I used to do long-distance.  Now she’ll still love the Jello, but she won’t know who I am or that I fixed it. And she’s not writing any more, not even 20 words. But I’m doing both the Red Hot Coke Salad and the mini-writing contest, and I hope you’ll try either one—or both—with me!

One of my mother’s favorite writers, Erma Bombeck, once said, “I am not a glutton ~ I am an explorer of food.”   What a magic combination: exploring both food and writing opportunities!


Another thanks to the Brits for the "Keep Calm" philosophy; I say "have a cupcake and WRITE!"

Another thanks to the Brits for the “Keep Calm” philosophy; I say “have a cupcake and WRITE!”

Need something besides Red Hot Jello to buzz you up for writing?  Stay calm and try cherry-Cherry-chocolate-fudeg cupcakes!

Need something besides Red Hot Jello to buzz you up for writing? Stay calm and try Cherry-chocolate-fudge cupcakes!


Filed under Dementia/Alzheimer's, special quotations, writing, writing contest with cash prizes, writing exercises

63 responses to “A MAGIC COMBINATION

  1. It would be nice if the taste of the jello invoked some magic memories from your Mom that she’d share even if she didn’t know who she was talking to.
    xxx Gigantic Hugs Marylin. xxx

  2. This reminds me of the jello salad my mother- in- law used to make for the holidays. My husband loves it. I need to find out if my sister-in-law still has the recipe or I could just make your recipe and surprise them. Thanks for sharing this family tradition. You inspired me to maybe share a couple of mine like my gingerbread house ornament I made for years. The ornament is made from graham crackers and kids love it.

    • Gingerbread house ornaments made from graham crackers? Gerlinde, that sounds like so much fun. I hope you will share it on your blog.
      There’s something about this Red Hot Jello that everyone seems to like, children and adults. Let me know if it turns out to be same recipe your sister-in-law makes.

  3. It reminds me of the trifles my mother used to make – without the coke – they were a treat we always looked forward to. Up to 40 words including refrigerator. Now there is a challenge. Thinking caps on……

    • I thought of you when I saw this contest, Andrew. Your ten-word story was outstanding. You could expand it to 20-40 words, except you’d really have to find a way to make using the word refrigerator just once fit in and make sense.
      Writing contests with quirky directions seem like logical “mind exercises” that might be good in staving off dementia and Alzheimer’s. Even just a little bit would help.

  4. It looks a little bit like my grandmother’s trifle, which was always a favourite at family gatherings.

  5. Don

    Looks sooo good Marylin. I think that quote by Erma Bombeck is classic. She had such a way putting things.

    • I love finding Bombeck quotes on little note cards and scraps of paper in my mother’s old purses and notebooks. Even the ones that sound outlandish have an element of truth to them, Don, and my mother could always add a personal comment from her own life.

  6. Oh, you’ve got to have a dollop or two of Cool Whip! When I was little I used to beg my mother for a bowl of plain Cool Whip.
    Thanks for the recipe and the contest heads up, Marylin. I love the name Cinnamon Bubble Salad. 🙂

    • Cinnamon Bubble Salad was 10-year-old Gannon’s name for it, Jill, so he’ll be pleased it was your choice. I’m like the kids; when I stir in the cold Coke, I love how it bubbles and foams. Any time you can make a crowd- pleasing Jello salad that also makes you laugh when you’re making it, you’ve got a winner!

  7. At this point, Day 2 after Thanksgiving, your recipe will have to wait. The refrigerator is crammed full of food. But, hey! Wait! I might just have a mini story in me about that fridge. Thanks for the Cool (Whip) suggestions, Marilyn. It’s always a treat reading your posts. Hope you had a wonderful Thanksgiving. 😉

    • Thanks, Judy, we did have an excellent Thanksgiving. And if you’ve got a refrigerator filled with leftovers (the best part of Thanksgiving dinner) that also triggers a possible mini story, you’re on a roll.
      Whatever you have in the refrigerator, this Red Hot Coke Salad is a cool, light side dish that goes with anything. Enjoy! 🙂

  8. Jim

    The Red-Hot Jello salad was scrumptious. Two servings. And I only needed one Tums for my tummy! As for the story contest, I’ll have to get back to you on that one and leave it as a definite maybe. Less than 40 words is a formidable challenge for this wordy guy.

    • And let’s be honest, honey, both servings were b-i-g. You and I together finished off the last of the salad that should have been enough for a small family! I remember when I posted the 10-word contest. You already knew of Hemingway’s classic 6-word story and saw it as impossible. Now that you’re referring to the 20-40 word story as a “definite maybe,” that’s a step in the right direction! 😉

    • Molly

      Ok Dad,

      Mom is making me enter my story…so where is yours?

  9. Coke, please, never Pepsi.

    This reminds me of the cherry cokes I used to order, and split an order of French Fries, with my best friend (we were pre-teens). We’d pool our babysitting funds–a couple of dollars, and with the left-over change, we’d go to the candy counter and get a smidgeon of almond bark.

    Next time we get together, I’d like to surprise her with this salad. Very clever idea.

  10. juliabarrett

    If I liked Jello, maybe. Not a Jello or a red hot fan. My mother makes a delicious lime/sour cream Jello mold. Not quite sure of the recipe but that’s about the only Jello-ish thing I’ve ever eaten.
    I do find the addition of Coke interesting!

    • The Coke is the entertainment, Julia. In the kitchen, everyone watches when you stir in the cold Coke. It foams and bubbles, and the kids all laugh. It’s a fun food.
      I think my mom used to make a lime/sour cream Jello mold, too. But she added crushed pineapple, I think. Not fresh–the acid wouldn’t let the Jello set up–but canned. I think there were chopped pecans or walnuts, too. It’s little things like these recipes I wish I’d thought to ask her about before the dementia. Most of her recipes she created spur-of-the-moment with things in the pantry, and she didn’t write down the recipes.

      • Molly

        Hmmmmmm….. Someone making up recipes on the fly…..who does that remind me of…….YOU! You and Grandma are both so good at it! I can make it happen about 50% of the time….

      • Your grandma was the master cook/creator of wonderful food, and by watching her I learned it was more than okay to try my own concoctions without worrying about results. Usually, they came out pretty good, as long as there were plenty of biscuits and jam to pass around. 😉

  11. Love jelly, as we say over here sweets. But none of the grandkids seem to be drawn to it, maybe I shall give this one a try on them see if it changes their mind. Aunty Jules should try it with tomato sauce, she seems to have it with everything else, bless. Xxxxx

    40 words, hmmm……

    • So good to hear from you, Tom! The candles still glow for you in the Cathedral on the Plains. If you like Jello–or jelly as the British say–you might really like this recipe. And your grandkids will have fun with the cold cola making it bubble and foam.
      Tomato sauce? Hmm…don’t think so. 😉
      Go for the 40 words!

  12. You’ll make us all gain weight just by looking at your delectable photos, both a nice change from turkey and all the fixings.

    Thank you too for introducing me to “On the Premises” website, Marylin. I wonder whether this is an assignment for your creative writing students too. Hmmmm . . .

    You are the Mistress of Blending Disparate Ideas in your posts. Who knew the word “refrigerator” could be so versatile. Now I’ll have to check the fridge for Coke and my cupboards for cherry jello!

  13. You’ll enjoy the OnThePremises website, Marian. I discovered their publication last year, and one of my full-length stories won a $200 contest of theirs. Their editors are excellent to work with, and if you watch their mini-contests and full-length story contest themes and deadlines, I think you’ll find something that clicks and makes you want to start writing immediately!

    • You may have noticed I shared this post on my Facebook page. My grand-daughter Jenna and I enjoyed making the dessert together. She thought the ingredients were rather strange, a compilation of all the sweet stuff her Mom never lets her eat!

      • I’m so glad she enjoyed it, Marian, even the “strange” combination of ingredients. I think my grandchildren’s favorite step is adding the cold
        Coke and having it foam and fizz.

  14. I’d never thought of using Coke like that …. I know it’s good for lots of things except our teeth!
    Love the writing challenge – I really enjoy the flash fictions, making every word count. I’ll try and have a go with you Marylin.

    • Today’s the final day for the writing contest, Jenny. Have you entered yet? I’ve still got a few hours. I thought mine was pretty good…until I realized I’d left out the word “refrigerator.” Drat!

  15. Oh, I know, Jenny. If Coke (or Pepsi) will fry an egg in a pan or take the scum off a bath tub, how good can it be for our teeth? But the Red Hot Jello is so much fun to make and serve; you might try it just once.
    As for the writing contest–Yea!–we’ll both try it, okay? We have another four days…and that’s just ten words a day. (Unfortunately, they have to be the right words…) 😉

  16. Hi Marylin,
    I almost missed this post and I’m so glad I noticed it. Yay for the jello recipe. Is it really hot or just mildly hot? (or not hot at all?) I have a group coming for Christmas that does like hot stuff. Perhaps I’ll make this for them. 🙂
    I’ll also check out the writing contest. My wedding work has slowed down for the season and I’m trying to stretch my writing chops a bit more. Thank you for sharing both the recipe and the contest.

    • I hope your group enjoys it, Joanne. You can add even more red hots with the dry Jello before you add the boiling water, and the taste will be even hotter.
      I’m determined to make the contest deadline, but it’s amazing how difficult just 20-40 words can be! Let me know if you do it.

    • Molly

      It is just slightly cinnamon-y! Sooooo yummy…..the applesauce cuts down on the “hotness”!

  17. This is the time of year for those favorite family recipes—and the heck with counting the calories or fat. 🙂 The contest sounds intriguing, but getting here rather late, I think it’s beyond my abilities just now. I hope you had a wonderful Thanksgiving!

    • Actually, if you use sugar-free cherry Jello, died Coke, and cut back the Cool Whip, it’s a much lower calorie holiday treat. And it’s fun to make and serve.
      Our Thanksgiving was excellent, and I hope yours was, too!

  18. Grace Mosher


    Your jello looks much better than Momma’s. Ours was very good, but was kinda runny, and not as pretty as yours! Can you make yours at Christmas to go with our soups? Miss you and love you


  19. Molly

    Hmmmmmmm…….20-40 words, with one being refrigerator …. I am not even sure where I would start with that….

    (Molly: You included the entire story, so I’m XXXing out most of it in case you enter it in the contest. It can’t be printed anywhere else) XXXXX As she walked into the kitchen XXXXXX next to the milk jug.)

    Hmmmmmmm…. I think I should leave the writing up to you, and the story telling up to Gannon.

    • Wow!
      I’m not quite sure what the “overly” means, but the rest captured my attention. I think you should enter it. There’s not any entry fee, and there is a cash prize. Go to the website; the deadline is tomorrow night.
      Wow, again!

  20. I entered it, too. We’ll have to see if Tracy and some of the others actually entered it, too. Without an entry fee and with cash prizes, there could be MANY entrants, but it was fun trying!

  21. I am excited to read your 20-40 word post, won’t you share what you send after the deadline, Marylin… please!
    I enjoyed the idea of coke, red hots, cherry jello and cool whip all in one reicipe, along with other ingredients, Marylin! At Cracker Barrel, where I waited tables in my 40’s while teaching and chasing down my Master’s, I discovered a Coca Cola Chocolate cake that has a fudge frosting, they microwave it a bit and add a homemade style vanilla ice cream…
    I love the idea of cupcakes, too. My Mom has a big sweet tooth, she is still doing fairly well, but I always take comfort from your posts, weaving times your mother used to write (quite well and lyrical, too) along with your giving her bites of tasty foods. You are a wonderful woman who shares so much within each post!

  22. Oh Marylin, for some unaccountable reason, I missed this wonderful post (and the deadline for the writing competition, darn!) but I just know my daughter will adore this recipe. I’ll have to try and find the equivalent of cool whip though, I think that would be ‘Dream Topping’. I miss cool whip, so great for so many recipes! Thanks for the great share 🙂

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