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Jell-O...I didn't know it's made with ground cow hooves and connective tissue!

I was watching a game show and this was the question.
How did this one slip by me for all these years..
So ground hooves, connective tissue mixed with strong acid makes gelatin..
I had no idea..learn something everyday!

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  1. Did you ever do a long, slow braise of a meat with lots of connective tissue? And then the braising liquid that reduced down became very gelatinous after cooling? Same idea.

    1. yep - Jell-O (and all non-Kosher or non-vegetarian gelatin) is made from collagen...and the process you described is the easiest way for them to extract it from the animal parts. Kosher gelatin is made from fish bones, and vegan gelatin is usually made from agar.

      1. There's always room for cow hoofs.

        1 Reply
        1. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Gelatin#...

          The "glue factory" colloqialism, usually in reference to old horses, reflects the same type of process, animal-based glues being made from hide and connective tissue. Kraft used to have a gelatin-processing plant in the town where I worked outdoors. Close by was the tannery that figured in the non-fiction book, "A Civil Action", and the adapted movie. When these businesses were operating, the smell was sickening for those not used to it - including me, since I most often worked on the other side of town and dreaded the days when I worked near the processing. It put me off Jell-O for a number of years!

          1. Out of curiosity, what did you think it was made of?

            5 Replies
            1. re: shanagain

              Not speaking for the OP, but for me - candy, and unicorn tears.

                1. re: librarianjen

                  hee hee..you forgot the lollipops!
                  It never ever occured to me that Jell-O was made from ground up hooves and connective tissue..still in shock..all those happy commercials with those cute kids..spelling J-E-L-L-O.
                  The marketing is such that if they really did bring up the fact of what it really is, do you think that most kids and adults would be so inclined to eat it?
                  I guess the hot dog is going strong.. ; )
                  Who knew watching Cash Cab last night that my happy Jell-O world would be rocked forever!

                  1. re: Beach Chick

                    I can't remember when I found out that gelatin was made from animal bones and connective tissue, Beach Chick, but it was sometime during childhood -- I imagine I probably read a book that mentioned aspics or something and then learned how they made aspic and gelatin... I don't remember being surprised, but then I grew up in a house where the Thanksgiving turkey carcass became a pot of very gelatinous stock! :)

                    This all reminds me of an episode of Mad Men from this last season when a client has been the subject of an expose' on dog food, which the public is scandalized to discover was made from horse meat!

                    1. re: LauraGrace

                      I found out years ago by reading an article in the New York Press. I thought it was gross then but have gotten over it,

              1. I've always had a soft spot for Boxer, the horse character in Orwell's "Animal Farm." The book was a mandatory read in 7th grade, and the teacher had a great habit of 5 minute group readings where we would each take a paragraph before passing to the next student.

                Boxer's stoic character revolved around the fact that he was aware that his final destiny was to go the the glue/hide/gelatin factory. I was convinced, at that early age, that Orwell had seen a box of gelatin leaves in the store and had slipped in the name "Boxer" as a morbid pun for this horse's final dispersal to the universe. My teacher, a gifted opener of children's eyes, allowed me to bring in a box of Gelatin and place it on the desk during that week of reading, to add an unctuousness to the broth of Orwell that we consumed with glee. We debated that book hard. What a gifted teacher.

                1 Reply
                1. re: FoodFuser

                  As a teacher hopfully someone will wax poetically about me some day. But in my science classroom, we do discuss where things come from.

                2. Here's some clarification:


                  According to this, no hooves but bones and hide. I actually like the idea of using as much of an animal as possible.

                  3 Replies
                  1. re: c oliver

                    What??? No hooves!!! Ohhhhhhhh...I'll never eat Jell-O again!

                    1. re: ttoommyy

                      When you buy a cow foot at the grocery (as must for Mexcian style menudo, trip stew), you get a piece (usually cut in half) about 8" long, with the hoof. The hoof itself is a tough skin over a bony tip. That skin cooks down just like the rest of the skin and tendons. However when dried, it is the hard hollow cow hoof that is sold as a dog chew.

                      For home extraction of the gelatin you just cook these parts a long time, just like making stock. Grinding and use of an acid would be a faster, industrial process. Either way, what is used for Jello is a highly purified form, with no inherent flavor.

                      Recently I heard reference to 'wine jelly' and the required calf foot - this was on a historical drama set in England in the 19th century. Before the advent of the comercial stuff, home made gelatin was common. And parts like skin, tendon, and foot valued in making a good rich stock.

                      1. re: paulj

                        Yes, I come from an Italian family, so I know about using ALL the parts of the animal and what they can do to enrich certain dishes.

                  2. Am I missing something here? What is problem using hooves and connective tissue? Sure it is not unicorn tears, but those are very expensive and only a few selective people can have those, like the President of US or something.

                    1 Reply
                    1. re: Chemicalkinetics

                      no one said it was a "problem," the OP was just surprised.

                    2. .......ground hooves, connective tissue mixed with strong acid makes gelatin

                      Mmmmmmmmmmm, yummy.

                      Think I'll go buy some LePage's and do some decoupage while I eat me some Jell-O.

                      At least it ain't dog.

                      1 Reply
                      1. re: anonymouse1935

                        I think the acid is used to efficiently extract the gelatin from the animal parts, but does not end up being part of the final product. As noted, the home process extracts the gelatin with hot water.

                      2. This is as close as I can remember of a BC cartoon conversation waaaaay back- no, I think it was the Wizard of Id. Anyway, like Veggo said-

                        She- "Here's dessert- ground-up horses' hooves.
                        He- "I'm full."
                        She- "There's always room for ground-up horses' hooves."

                        1. If that surprises you, just don't look up how it's collected...

                          1. oh man. . . my friend m. was born & raised a vegetarian all her life, her family was hindu. off she went to college her freshman year. most of the dorm food was dreck, of course, especially the lame "vegetarian" meal option, but she discovered this amazing yummy dessert, jello. it came mostly in green, but also orange, and all sorts of other colors, often with fruit inside its jiggly surface, sometimes topped with whipped cream. delicious! she loved it so much that she had to tell all of her friends. and when she found out what it was, she was very, very, ill. it never occurred to her that something fruit flavored and green could, or would be, meat derived. poor, poor m. gelatin in all its many guises and disguises is the enemy of all vegetarians :)

                            1 Reply
                            1. re: soupkitten

                              This is where you get her agar-based 'gelatin' - it's jello made from agar agar, a seaweed I think, and is acceptable to vegetarians.
                              Of course, for those who eat meat, it's definitely better to use up every part of the animal but the squeal.

                            2. Does anyone remember when Knox Gelatine used to have a cow on the box?

                              Powdered cow.

                              Growing up in the '60s and '70s I can remember being bombarded with Jell-O desserts at picnics and parties. It seemed like every household had at least one Jell-O mold and just about anything remotely edible could end up in one of those molds.

                              7 Replies
                              1. re: ttoommyy

                                Kind of like adding water to baby powder gets you...;-)

                                1. re: chowser

                                  Isn't that where they come from??? :)

                                  1. re: ttoommyy

                                    That's my story for the kids and I'm sticking to it.:-)

                                  2. re: chowser

                                    Reminds me of stories of recent immigrants fleeing in horror from American grocery stores when they saw the Gerber baby on the front of baby food jars.

                                    1. re: LauraGrace

                                      LOL, I talked to someone from the Middle East, back in the 80's, who asked if Americans ate dogs and cats because they were on the cover of the boxes, like a picture of fish was on the outside of the cans of tuna.

                                      1. re: chowser

                                        I get confused sometime. Is that for dogs or made out of dogs? We put pictures of cattles on beef jerky and pictures of fishes on canned fish. Yet, we also have picture of dogs and cats on these pet foods. Very confusing.