Morbid Curiosity

Morbid Curiosity: A Trio of Gelatine Protein Drinks

People always say the simplest foods are the best. I’m sure that rule is true in the majority of cases, but good grief, have I ever found some exceptions this week! These 1959 recipes for semi-homemade protein drinks are hardly more complicated than combining a liquid with a powder. But take my word for it: even though they are simple recipes, they are simply awful.

The Knox Gelatine Gel-Cookery Recipe Book contains a brief health advisory on the last page of the book. It reads:

OFTEN RECOMMENDED BY DOCTORS FOR MORE PROTEIN IN THE DAILY DIET. […] KNOX UNFLAVORED GELATINE IS ALL PROTEIN. (Yes, this is the same concentrated protein drink many doctors have recommended for years…as a pleasant way to get more protein in the daily diet of persons whose daily intake of this vital nutrient may be inadequate.) In the reducing diet, the Knox drink works 2 ways:
1. It’s a wonderfully refreshing and satisfying “between-meal” treat.
2. It supplies you with additional Protein, a must when you are taking off excess weight.

Well. How thoughtful of them to be so concerned for my protein levels!

The recipe book lists three different versions of the “gelatine protein drink,” and each recipe combines an envelope of gelatine powder and a liquid. The first drink contains gelatine and orange juice, the second drink contains gelatine and a combination of skim milk powder and water, and the third drink contains gelatine and a combination of bouillon and hot water. Of the three protein drinks, I would say that the hot beef broth was (surprisingly) the least gross to drink. At least the gelatine was almost completely dissolved by the hot water… it was a little like drinking a cup of soup. With the juice and milk drinks, however, no amount of stirring can make the gelatine dissolve in the cold liquid. I find it quite unsettling to drink chunky milk, and any recipe that instructs you to gulp something down quickly is probably one you should raise an eyebrow to.

After I had swallowed all three of the protein drinks in quick succession, I did briefly wonder if perhaps all the undissolved gelatine would set in my stomach and kill me. Then at the autopsy, they’d look inside me and find a strange, jellied diorama of milk, orange juice, and beef broth. Obviously, I lived, but if this ever happens I think my obituary should say something like, “Jen died as she lived: in a vile gelatinized stew.” Or something like that. I would also accept “genius billionaire adventuress.”

three glasses of gelatine protein drinks from left to right: with orange juice, with skim milk, and with beef broth.
Bottoms up.

Gelatine Protein Drinks
With fruit juices
. Empty 1 envelope Knox Gelatine in 3/4 glass of orange juice, other fruit juices or water, not iced. Then stir briskly. Drink quickly. If it thickens, add more liquid, stir again.

With milk. In an 8 or 10 oz.. dry glass, thoroughly mix 1 envelope Knox Gelatine with 3-6 tablespoons dry skim milk. (Varies with brand.) Fill with cold water. Stir briskly until milk thoroughly dissolves. Drink quickly.

As a hot drink. Sprinkle 1 envelope Knox Gelatine with 1/4 cup cold water to soften. Add 1 bouillon cube and 3/4 cup boiling water. Stir until gelatine and bouillon cube are thoroughly dissolved. 3/4 cup of any very hot broth may be used in place of bouillon.


The recipe featured in this post is from the Gel-Cookery Recipe Book, published as a promotional booklet by Knox Gelatine (Canada) Ltd. in 1959.

By 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.

6 replies on “Morbid Curiosity: A Trio of Gelatine Protein Drinks”

This just reminds me of a supplement my doctor prescribed me a few years ago. I thought it was a little strange that he reminded me three times that I would have to chew this one, I couldn’t just swallow it. Then I took the first one and discovered the most unpleasant flavor/texture combination I have ever had. I am fairly certain that the pills were made out of the used straw at the bottom of a neglected horse’s stable.

So yeah, “drink quickly” will go into the red flag folder with “You MUST chew this.”


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