Morbid Curiosity Monday: Cola Salad

Earlier this week, a recipe purported to be the original secret recipe for Coca-Cola was revealed by the Chicago radio program This American Life. Coca-Cola has denied that this is their recipe, but who can resist the intrigue? Speaking of intriguing, I’m sure you’re dying to know what strange and wonderful foods can be made with your favorite cola-type beverage.

I found a recipe in one of my cookbooks for something called Cola Salad. How enigmatic! But what is it? Is Cola Salad a regional slang for coleslaw? Guess again! Is Cola Salad a fresh bed of arugula and dandelion greens topped with a cola vinaigrette? It isn’t! (Although now I need to find out if such a salad exists in real life.) If you hadn’t figured it out by the pictures, Cola Salad is another one of those notoriously questionable gelatin molds; I wouldn’t actually call it a “salad” by any modern or conventional standard. This is the sort of salad that an eight-year-old would come up with.

Cola Salad

It tastes quite sweet, but you can barely taste the cola. Instead, it tastes more like cherry cough syrup in solid form “¦ but with whole cherries, pieces of walnut, and cream cheese mixed in. It didn’t taste offensive (at least not compared to some of the other strange recipes I have followed), but if you’re going to call it Cola Salad, it should at least be demonstrably Cola-like or salad-like, right? I would have preferred for it to have a caramel/cola flavor. Perhaps if I had left out the liquid from the cherries, and boiled some cola with the pineapple juice, it would have had more of the flavor I associate with cola drinks.

Slice of the Cola Salad gelatin mold

Now, cut yourself some Coke. And this time (unlike at that one party that a friend of a friend went to that one time), everything is completely legal and won’t make anyone laugh at inappropriate moments.

Cola Salad

1 large can bing cherries
1 large can crushed pineapple
1 package cherry-flavored gelatin
1 package strawberry-flavored gelatin
1 (8-oz) package cream cheese
1 cup chopped walnuts
2 cups cola

Cola Salad ingredients in a mixing bowl, prior to setting
Guys, at this stage it looks like straight-up vom.

Drain juice from cherries and pineapple; heat. Dissolve gelatins; let cool. Mix pineapple, cheese, nuts, and cherries with gelatin mixture. Add cola last; blend. Pour into mold.; chill until firm. Yields 8 servings.

This recipe appeared in The Encyclopedia of Creative Cooking, published by Weathervane Books, 1982.

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Jen R. L. Disarray

Jen was once described as a "culinary anthropologist". She liked that. When she is not making questionable foods, Jen enjoys reading, sassing, and lurking all over the internet. Jen has a blog called Maybe We Shouldn't Be Eating This, and she is a contributor to the Geekquality podcast and blog.

15 thoughts on “Morbid Curiosity Monday: Cola Salad”

  1. I expect that the big, pink, wobbly Coke salad would make me laugh as inappropriate moments, but I am occasionally overtaken by a twelve-year-old boy’s sense of humor.

    A friend of mine has a recipe for Dr. Pepper pot roast that is wonderful, but it doesn’t taste a thing like Dr. Pepper.

    As always Ms. Disarray, your morbid curiosity has made my Monday :)

  2. No no no! That is not Coca-Cola salad! At least, now how it should be. This–http://www.deepsouthdish.com/2010/11/old-fashioned-cherry-coke-salad.html–is Coca-Cola salad, and it is, in fact, remarkably delicious. It’s definitely regional; I’ve never heard of it being made commonly except in the Deep South, where my husband is from. It is proudly featured at every family get-together he has, and even this California girl thinks it’s pretty amazing. Trust me–it’s weird, but it’s good.

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