By People Staff
November 12, 2001 12:00 PM

By Carolyn Wyman

You may not agree with junk food expert Wyman (an authority on Spam) when she ranks Jell-O beside Coca-Cola and apple pie as a definitive American treat, but her volume about the jiggly dessert some call “nervous pudding” is as colorful and lightweight as the stuff it celebrates. Here is a surprisingly funny array of Americana, kitsch and trivia—as a teen, John Malkovich lost 70 lbs. on a Jell-O-only diet. Sharing the plate, though, are the darker sides of Jell-O: the bikini wrestlers, the frat-house shooters, its tenuous connection to Julius and Ethel Rosenberg and, yes, as rumored in the schoolyard, ingredients that include pig bones and hide. Jell-O was once satirized with the defeatist-sounding slogan, “If it was there, you’d eat it”; the book fits the same mold. (Harcourt, $15)

Bottom Line: Junk food for thought