If there’s one food item that has continued to beguile the American masses over the last century, it’s jello. Since it first graced the pages of Ladies’ Home Journal at the turn of the century, the animal bone-derived product has gone on to become a staple of the suburban household, promising picture-perfect domesticity for busy mid-century moms. Jell-O could be sweet or savory, appearing both as desserts and in salad form with congealed vegetables and meats. For the Nowstalgia issue of PAPERMAG, Los Angeles-based photography duo JUCO—composed of Julia Galdo and Cody Cloud—takes on the most revolting and enchanting edible from our shared past, pairing surreal (and all too real) jello molds with fall’s hottest vintage fashions.
The concept came to life when Cloud discovered a wealth of advertisements from the half-century between the 1920s and 1970s in which elaborate gelatin molds were illustrated in meticulous detail. Despite the ick-factor, both he and Galdo were enamored with the intricate illustrations, inspired to create gelatinous scenes all their own. The fun, they admit, was found in marrying aesthetically alluring elements with, as they put it, the “super gross.”
In order for the jello molds to stay in place during the shoot, they were concocted using four times the normal amount of gelatin. They housed everything from imitation crab to canned hot dogs. With the help of the stylists at PAPERMAG, model Chrystal Copland seamlessly traversed the decades, bringing us back to a time in which jello was as much a part of being a lady as perfectly-coiffed Betty Draper hair and long red finger nails. Sometimes, making fun of the past is the very best way of honoring it, and when asked whether they tasted the molds afterwards, Galdo and Cloud respond with a humorous yet firm, “No way!”
All images © JUCO