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"Overnight Salad"

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In the Midwest of my long-ago childhood there was a concoction sure to turn up any time relations from out of town came to visit. It went by various names---Overnight Salad, Overnight Dessert, Flapper's Delight, Cream Fluff Dessert---but basically was whipped cream, marshmallows, and canned fruit with the juice. As it sat a day or two in the refrigerator, the marshmallows sort of melted into the fruit juice. Every cook put her spin on it---some added a boiled dressing, some added torn-up sugar wafer cookies, etc. It harks back to the 1920's and 1930's when having an electric refrigerator was a prestigious thing and one showed it off by serving fancy jello salads and refrigerator desserts. I see in my grandmother's handwritten cookbook that recipe variants were passed along and recorded with the cook's name, eg Mae's Ovenight Salad. Does anyone else remember this stuff?

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  1. No, but I am intrigued by the idea that such dishes came about because refridgeration was new and prestigious. Never heard or thought of this before.

    1. My Mom's was called Ambrosia, my Mother-in-Law's 7 Cup Salad. For M Whitmore: good books on the subject of how "modernism" changed food--Laura Shapiro's Perfection Salad and Something From the Oven.

      1. Someone used to make a salad like that, and included uncooked orzo which softened overnight. She used to bring it to office potlucks.

        1. It sounds similar to five cup salad -- a cup or small can each of diced pineapple, mandarin oranges, shredded coconut, sour cream, and mini marshmallows. I will confess to making this for the holidays. It is pretty and tasty!

          4 Replies
          1. re: Tara57

            That's exactly the salad my family made in the 50's and 60's. It was a real treat, and the sour cream was so good in it! I grew up in the Midwest (Indiana and Ohio).

            1. re: Tara57

              I might just give this a try! Drain (or not?) the fruit, mix all together and let sit overnight?

              1. re: Sarah

                Yes, just gently drain the fruit -- leave some syrup clinging to the fruit -- then mix it all together and let it chill.

              2. re: Tara57

                I used to make similar but using a large can of fruit cocktail drained with the marshmallows and sour cream. There was also a later version of a similar salad that people seemed to enjoy and that was a large can of crushed pineapple drained, add a 3 oz package of pistachio instant pudding and 8 oz Cool Whip. I would sometimes add diced banana .

              3. I remember these types of "salads"! Wow, memory lane.

                Regarding refrigeration, this sounds like a great possible thread topic. We recently discovered that grapefruit is much better at room temperature and this prompted a conversation about how menu items like "chilled grapefruit" used to be very appealing to previous generations - no doubt due to the luxury of choosing to eat cold food.