Friday, February 5, 2016

Dessert Salads Go Green – Part Three.

Fruit salads have been making the rounds of recipe books, and personal recipe cards, since about 1910 thanks to the canning industry.  Depending on the author, some of these recipes began to pick up their names by location, such as “Golden Gate Salad” and “Watergate Salad”.  In 1922, Helen Keller published a recipe called “Golden Gate Salad”, consisting of canned diced pineapple, nuts, marshmallows, whipped cream, other fruits and celery.  The reason for the name simply being that the first time she tried such a salad was in California, probably the San Francisco area.  Helen’s recipe also appeared in a 1925 cookbook, “Favorite Recipes of Famous Women” (Florence Stratton, author) with a notation of, “It is best made with fresh fruits, but it can be made of canned fruit.  At home we often serve it instead of dessert, with a little more whipped cream.”

“Watergate Salad”, however, has rather an obscure pedigree; with a humble beginning of Ambrosia and the addition of chopped pistachio nuts; creating Pistachio Salad.  In 1975, Kraft Foods offered consumers a new flavor in the Jell-O pudding line, pistachio; a recipe for Pistachio Pineapple Delight appeared on the box.  This dessert salad picked up names, along its United States journey, such as Pistachio Delight, Shut the Gate Salad, Green Goop, Green Fluff or Green Stuff.  It was not until The Denver Post, in the Empire Magazine of June 27, 1976, published a recipe for Watergate Salad; stating that the recipe was developed by a sous chef at the Watergate Hotel in Washington, D.C.  When scandal hit the White House, and President Richard Nixon, the recipe took off like wildfire.  At the same time, a Watergate Cake was developed with “cover-up icing and full of nuts”; along with other satirically named recipes such as Nixon's Perfectly Clear Consommé and Liddy's Clam-Up Chowder.  Kraft even changed the name on the pistachio pudding box to Watergate Salad to keep up with the presidential scandal.

Perusing through my Utah based cookbooks, lime Jell-O made many an appearance in recipes; pudding, not so much.  Even the use of pistachios was kept to the more garden type salads, or as a main ingredient for salad dressing.  Various bloggers, from Utah, mentioned family reunions in which Pistachio Salad was present; the recipes being variations of the original Jell-O pudding recipe.  Does that mean Utahns aren’t cracked up about pistachios?  Au-contraire!  Located in Hurricane, Utah, Red Rock Ranch Pistachio Orchards ( has been producing a unique variety of pistachios for over ten years.  The dry climate of the desert gives the nuts sweeter flavor and greener coloring; while high in fat, they are low in carbohydrates.


Here is the original recipe for Pistachio Pineapple Delight (1975), later renamed as Watergate Salad (1976).


1 can (20 oz.) crushed pineapple in juice, undrained
1 package (3.4 oz.) Jell-O Pistachio Flavor Instant Pudding
1 and ½ cups thawed Cool Whip Whipped Topping
1 cup Jet-Puffed miniature marshmallows
½ cup Planters chopped pecans


Combine Ingredients.  Refrigerate 1 hour.

Makes 8 – about ½ cups servings each.

Mary Cokenour

No comments:

Post a Comment