Polly’s Pink Stuff (Raspberry Jello Mold)

Another Thanksgiving has come and gone and we’re well on our way to Christmas now.  So much planning to do! So much shopping to take care of! So many menus to plan. Actually the menu planning part is my favorite. I know you’re shocked to hear that. If your family is like ours, there’s at least one and maybe more, special recipes that are always a part of your holiday menus. Maybe it’s your Aunt Mabel’s famous mashed potatoes, or Gramma Smith’s perfect pumpkin pie. For our family, one constant on our holiday menu is “Polly’s Pink Stuff.”

Five generations

Five generations – Front: Mama with Maggie on her lap and Polly; Back: Me, Laura and Aidan

Polly is my grandmother. My Mama’s mama. And, I’m here to tell you, she is one more sport. Polly is 96 years old and has a mind like a steel trap. She is a voracious reader and remembers things from 80-90 years ago in detail that you wouldn’t believe. She’s the oldest of seven siblings and all but one of them are living. I come from hardy stock, y’all. The photo of our five generations up above was taken last Thanksgiving and we all agreed that Polly looked better than any of the rest of us.

Gran Robert, Mama and Polly

Gran Robert, Mama and Polly

I remember growing up thinking what a glamorous life Polly led. She and her husband, my Gran Robert, lived in the big city – Atlanta – but they came to visit us often down in south Georgia. They both grew up there, but my grandfather worked for the CDC in Atlanta for years. After he retired they moved right on back to south Georgia. I always loved going to Atlanta to see them around Christmas time. We’d go downtown where we’d see Bessie the Cow (update: It was Elsie the cow, not Bessie – does anyone remember Elise besides me?) and to Rich’s and ride the “Pink Pig.” And to Stone Mountain to ride the train. It was pretty exciting for a little country girl.

One of the things that Polly has enjoyed most in her life is travel. She and her sister-in-law, Ione, along with a couple of other close friends traveled every summer for years. My Aunt Ione was the postmaster in her little town and always went to a convention every summer bringing the whole group along with her and turning the occasion into a couple of weeks of travel time. Those were some really enjoyable times for Polly and her friends. Lots of memories and funny stories to be told about all those travels.

Polly never has been”the little wife” type. She doesn’t care much for the domestic arts, preferring to read and travel and work outside her home. She was a constant presence in the local courthouse for years and years working in the Clerk of Court’s office. And even though keeping house isn’t her “thing,” she’s always been a really good cook. She can make a pot roast that will nearly bring tears to your eyes and her Chicken Jallop recipe is famous all around our area.

This “pink stuff” is one of her signature recipes. We’ve never had a proper name for this recipe, just preferring to call it Polly’s Pink Stuff. In actuality, it’s just a raspberry jello mold. It’s something that is nearly always on our holiday table and was on my Thanksgiving menu last week. And even though many of you are looking at it askance because it has jello and Cool Whip in the recipe, I’m still honored to share this dish with you. It’s as much a part of our family’s holiday tradition as the Christmas tree and the wreath on the front door. And, I’d bet my next paycheck, that if you gave it a try you’d like it.

Cook jello and pineapple

Start by combining a large can of crushed pineapple with its juice and a large package of raspberry jello in a medium saucepan. Or any red colored jello you like (cherry, strawberry, cranberry). Or you can make this into Polly’s Orange Stuff with orange jello. Whatever. Just bring the pineapple and jello to a boil stirring occasionally. Set that aside to cool to room temperature.

Add buttermilk to Polly's Pink Stuff

When the mixture has cooled, stir in the buttermilk. Mix it together well.

Add Cool Whip to Polly's Pink Stuff

Then fold in a small contained of Cool Whip which has been thawed. Keep folding and stirring until it is thoroughly incorporated and no streaks of white remain.

Turn the mixture into a decorative mold. Or do like Polly usually does and pour it into a 9×13 pan so that you can cut it into little squares when you’re ready to serve.

Refrigerate until set. Unmold and serve.


Polly’s Pink Stuff (Raspberry Jello Mold)
Cook time
Total time
A retro recipe for raspberry Jello mold.
  • 1 16 oz. can crushed pineapple
  • 1 large box Jello raspberry gelatin
  • 2 cups buttermilk
  • 1 small container Cool Whip, thawed
  1. Place the crushed pineapple with its juice in a medium saucepan.
  2. Add the jello and stir together.
  3. Bring to a boil over medium-high heat.
  4. Remove pan from the heat and set it aside to cool.
  5. When the pineapple and jello mixture has cooled to room temperature, add the buttermilk and stir together until well combined.
  6. Fold in the Cool Whip.
  7. Pour into decorative molds and refrigerate until set.
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  1. Miss P says

    Yes indeed! Polly’s Pink Stuff is famous. I remember the time that she made it for Christmas, and it went in the refrigerator in the back of the house to wait until the appropriate serving time. Too bad we forgot it until Easter. What a surprise!

    Happy Memories.

    Miss P

  2. says

    It is a wonderful combination of flavors. I would love to taste Polly’s traditional pink stuff dessert.

    Thank for sharing and may the Lord bless her with many more years of health and happiness.

  3. says

    oh my goodness Lana, and thank goodness for jello and cool-whip, I just don’t know how we would survive without it – why I think, if we had it earlier, we would have won the war!
    Every family I know has a jello-stuff or fluff recipe, we have a pink one too, with buttermilk but a few shades lighter and a that famous green one with pistachio nuts as well….
    I sure do like to see those photos, they make me smile knowing your family is doing well, still kicking and speaking, are all intact, and looking ever so spry…

    • says

      Yep, we make the green pistachio one, too. Also, one with shredded carrots (sunshine salad) and Mama makes a delicious bing cherry version. All good.

  4. says

    This was a really nice read Lana, I love when people share recipes that have so much meaning behind them! I think I would love this pink stuff :) My aunt used to make something similar but used cottage cheese and would put walnuts in it too.

  5. says

    Oh I just love this story and Polly’s pink stuff. There’s something about that generation of southern women. They are vivacious, tough and multifaceted like no others.

  6. Judy B. Texas says

    Will be proud to serve this come Christmas – it’s a classic. Long live your Grandmother – she has spunk and seems she is living the life as she pleases.

  7. Angela says

    I have some of this in my refrigerator now- except using peach jello and Georgia pecans. We love this to share at covered dish suppers. I love your stories about visiting Atlanta. There was nothing like visiting the downtown Richs and Davisons for Christmas shopping.

  8. dearcat says

    Dear Lana.
    I just saw the two words I have been looking for; Sunshine salade. I lost my original recipe. Would you be kind enough to email it to me. I would be forever grateful. I am also going to try the Pink Stuff.

    Thank you,


  9. dearcat says

    I have just read some of your background. What a wonderful family. How fortunate you are. May your Aunt Polly stay in good health and mind. She sounds like a fabulous person. I am only 77 and yes; I remember Elsie the Borden cow.


  10. Socorro Varela says

    I grew up in central Texas. As a child, one of my momma’s friends, Wanda Moore (R.I.P.), would always make the “pink stuff” for my siblings and myself whenever there eas a gathering. Didnt matter if it what holiday. Loved the stuff.

  11. Stan says

    I’m going to ask this question, so don’t shoot me. What could be substituted if a family doesn’t like buttermilk? I know it would take away from the taste, but could whole milk be used instead? Again, don’t shoot the asker of the question. :) Thanks!!!!

    • says

      Hi Stan. I’ve never tried any substitutes for the buttermilk in this recipe so I can say for sure. If I was going to substitute something, I’d try heavy cream first because of its thicker consistency. I can promise you, though, that you’d never know it was buttermilk in the finished recipe. You’d more likely identify the taste as yogurt.

  12. Mary says

    Oh, lordy me, this sounds so much like my own family and my gramma’s recipes. Thank you so much for sharing family and food with all of us.
    My grandparents were from the south and I grew up with all kinds of wonderful food as a result. My own gramma was a superb cook in all areas of cuisine…..I try to emulate as many of her recipes as possible. Now I can add this one.

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