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RECIPE: 1950's Colorvision — Vintage Cake Comeback

Did your mom or your grandmother make a fruit-flavored, colored cake with Jell-O and 7-minute frosting?

My grandmother did! She owned Mrs. Shouse’s Boarding House in Grand Prairie, and I remember a variety of beautifully colored, delightfully flavored cakes brought to the table following Sunday dinner at the boarding house.

While flipping through my grandmother’s Watkins Cook Book (Copyright 1938) I came across an old and very yellowed ad dated 1951. It was promoting the “Colorvision” cake developed by the Betty Crocker Kitchen.

Color movies were the rage in the early ‘50s and the recipe clipping advertised the “new” easy-to-make “glamour cake” using a Betty Crocker cake mix, fruit-flavored gelatin and 7-minute boiled frosting. 

Other ads (there are some online) touted the cake as “a new kind of cake,” “fantastically easy,” and “just add gelatin to your cake mix.” 

There were only a few cake mix flavors in the early '50s, so the addition of Jell-O gave the homemaker many new choices. 

And it was true! Nothing could be easier, or prettier. And now with the help of Betty Crocker’s Homestyle Fluffy White Frosting Mix, a Colorvision cake is really a snap.

The boxed frosting mix is back on the shelves at our neighborhood Kroger. (I couldn’t find it for years and according to online comments, no one else could, either.) A few weeks ago, I saw the frosting mix and asked management about the product. Kroger store manager Angela Times confirmed that the frosting mix is a newly stocked item, having been returned to the shelf in early March. 

Here’s what you need to create the festive and fun Colorvision cake. 

  • 1 white cake mix
  • Eggs, oil and water as called for in the cake mix directions
  • 3 Tbs. of your favorite flavored Jell-O powder from a small box (save remaining for frosting)
  • 1 Betty Crocker Home Style Fluffy White Frosting Mix

Prepare cake mix according to package directions with the addition of the dry gelatin before mixing.

Bake according to package directions.

Prepare frosting according to package directions. You may color and flavor it with remaining Jell-O, food coloring, or leave it white. The fluffy frosting allows you to create beautiful swirls on the cake.

Frost the cake and voila — a glamorous vintage Colorvision cake reminiscent of the 1950s.  

Make this cake to match or compliment any table décor. The only downside — don’t frost the cake too far in advance. The frosting is almost the consistency of marshmallow and does get sticky. But, the frosting mix is so easy to make and work with you can make it and frost the cake shortly before serving it. 

The sunny colors and citrus flavors make it a wonderful spring and summer dessert. And, as Betty Crocker herself promised, “a perfect homemade cake —cake, after cake after cake.”

Monday, April 4, 2016