Watergate Salad

I thought that perhaps for the summer months this salad might be something of interest. That my Mom actually hand copied it to keep in her cookbook was, perhaps, even more remarkable.

If you do not recognize the name Watergate, you are very young. It is hard to believe that it has been forty years since this event was ingrained in the minds of all Americans. On June 17, 1972, the Democrat National Party Headquarters were ordered burglarized on orders from President Richard Nixon. Events that followed led to his resignation and the creation of a salad.  Kraft Food debuted this bright green instant pistachio pudding mix in 1975 and had intended to promote it as a Pistachio Pineapple Delight, but some city editor at a Chicago newspaper reprinted their recipe and renamed it “Watergate Salad,” and the rest, as one can say, “is history”.

You might ask how a powerful company like Kraft allowed this to happen. They had wanted simply to use Jell-O instant pistachio pudding and their Cool Whip whipped topping, a whipped-cream substitute, together in a recipe. As we know at Fischer & Wieser, marketing two products together is always a win. The origin of this particular recipe is so complex that neither Kraft nor anyone else knows how it happened. Consumers simply began requesting the recipe under the Watergate name. Amazingly, the editor who named the recipe nor her article has ever been found.

Claims made by some that the recipe originated during the scandal are not quite true. Nixon resigned in August of 1974. The scandal fostered the creation of named recipes for a year. A “Watergate Cake”, which had a ‘cover-up’ icing and was full of nuts appeared, as well as Nixon’s Perfectly Clear Consommé and Liddy’s Clam-Up Chowder. This satirical trend seems a much kinder and gentler way to vent feelings about politics than some of the things we see today.

Clearly, some foods last only if people associate it with something. I like to think this salad would be better served on St. Patrick’s Day. The dessert is actually quite good, but I don’t think it was served very often, perhaps just once. After that, the point of its creation was essentially lost, and since then two generations of Americans have grown up.

1 pkg Pistachio Jell-O Instant Pudding mix.
1 20oz can crushed pineapples.
1 cup miniature marshmallows.
1 cup chopped pecans.
1 large pkg. Coolwhip

Stir Jell-O, pineapples with juice,
Add marshmallows and nuts in a large bowl.
Mix well.
Stir in Coolwhip
Refrigerate one hour or until ready to serve.

By Mark Wieser

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