It began with a bowl of glistening cubes of green gelatin. Utah's food culture has generated more than 100 souvenir Olympic food pins, with cookbooks to share in such stereotypical delights as Green Jell-O with Pineapple and Cottage Cheese, Fry Sauce and Funeral Potatoes.

Other host cities' cuisines could have easily become food pins (Atlanta's Southern cooking; Sydney's bush tuckers, wichety grubs and "shrimp on the barbie"). But they're a unique phenomenon of the Salt Lake City Games, said Craig Weston of Aminco International, the official manufacturer of souvenir pins for the 2002 Winter Games.

In 1998, Aminco released 5,000 green gelatin food pins, retailing for $7. Soon, they took on a Beanie Baby-like mystique. "Now they're worth $150 each, if you can get your hands on one," Weston said. "So we did fry sauce and kept it going. If we went a month without doing a food pin, we would get calls. It's one of those series that the local community has embraced. People are having fun with it."

The pin depicting fry sauce — a ketchup-mayo concoction invented by Arctic Circle burger drive-ins in the late 1940s — sold out within two weeks at $7.95 each, said Gary Roberts, Arctic Circle president. "They're now worth $60 each," Roberts said. "I wish I would've bought more myself."

Visitors shouldn't assume that all Utahns subsist on a diet of Jell-O, funeral potatoes, ice cream, zucchini and fry sauce — all prepared in a Dutch oven. Cherry pie, popcorn, cookies, tacos, hot dogs, pizza, Rice Krispie treats and fortune cookies have universal appeal rather than Utah-only ties.

Corporate sponsors (Coca-Cola, Certified Angus Beef, etc.) have their own pins. Earlier this year, the Utah County commissioners had 1,000 green-and-gold zucchini pins made up — probably the only version of this prolific vegetable to come in limited quantities.

Local companies also got into the act. Rainbow Gardens, the Ogden gift shop complex, did a pin for its signature menu item, the Mormon Muffin. After it became a hit, Rob King, one of the Rainbow Gardens' owners, decided to publish a cookbook devoted to Utah's souvenir food pins. More than 75 pins are featured in the book, due off the press at the end of February.

For each pin, there's a light-hearted story of its ties to Utah food culture, and a recipe. Widow's Milk, Bee In Your Bonnet Honey Butter, Carrots in Suspended Animation Jell-O and The Great Strawberry Lake Kool-Aid Punch are a few of the recipes, as well as the Mormon Muffin.

Rainbow Gardens delayed publication of "Utah Pin Cookin' " while more food pins were coming out each month. The book comes in a three-ring binder, with the idea that more recipes and pages can be added as future pins are released. The book retails for $14.95. (To reserve a copy, call Rainbow Gardens at (801) 392-3902.

Great Mountain West also has a "Salt Lake 2002 Olympic Winter Games Cookbook" that shows about two dozen food pins. Some of the accompanying recipes are simplified (the waffle recipe lists "1 package frozen waffles" as its sole ingredient, and the recipe for pizza calls for a phone and a phone book). But the books have many other non-pin recipes, such as "Pioneer Wheat Cakes" and "Crispy Apple Muffins."

Both books feature recipes for Funeral Potatoes, the hash-brown casserole loaded with sour cream that's typically served at post-funeral dinners.

Altogether, more than 1,000 souvenir pins have been produced for the 2002 Olympics, said Jeff Fleming, a collector and owner of the The Pin Hut stores at the Layton Hills and Newgate malls. He and his sons began collecting pins with the Calgary Olympics in 1988, and it developed from a hobby into a business.

"You can buy other souvenirs, but pins don't take up much space, and you can wear one on your jacket, and pretty soon someone will ask about it," he said. "They have conversational value. But wait until you see some of these collectors who come to the Games. They get so caught up in it, they give away their tickets to the events so they can keep trading pins."

The food pins, like mascots and other symbols, provide an additional common denominator for people to associate with the Games, Fleming added.

The original green gelatin pin is still the most valuable, but only serious collectors are going to pay upwards of $150 or more for it, Fleming said. But the newer versions — green gelatin with shredded carrots, green gelatin with pineapple and cottage cheese and multi-colored cubes of gelatin — will still offer cultural flavor at an affordable price. Those will be very popular during the Olympics, he said.

A myriad of pins represent the local sweet tooth — ice cream cones, marshmallows, ice pops, s'mores, Rice Krispie treats, holiday mints, mint sandwiches and salt water taffy. Fleming predicts the newer chocolate-vanilla swirl ice cream cone will be popular during the Olympics because it's still retailing for $7.

He also predicts that future host cities won't continue the food-pin trend.

"Budweiser is an Olympic sponsor, and it will be more of a presence in other cities with a lot more pins," he said. "Also, I think most of the symbolism in Greece for 2004 will be based on the origination of the first Olympics in 1896."

SOME OTHER OLYMPIC FOOD PINS: Lollipops, milk can, campfire mug, gingerbread man, 3.2 beer, O.O root beer, corn bread & honey butter, cookies, cherries and cream, baked potato, Coca-Cola, fortune cookie, spaghetti & meatballs, Dutch oven, holiday mint, peach, salt water taffy, toasted marshmallow, waffles, Smith's milk jug, orange juice, popcorn, candy corn, taco, strawberry cheesecake, chef's tray, rice cake, stew, preserves, cotton candy, baked potato, slice of cherry pie, corn on the cob, chef's hat, chocolate-covered doughnut, strawberry dipped in chocolate, Utah State Fair cheese, strawberry milk & cookies, watermelon, red-hot chili pepper, holiday candy mint, hot dog, honey bear, bologna sandwich, grilled-cheese sandwich, raspberries, grocery bag, double-scoop ice cream, cherry pie. And there are many more.

For years, most potlucks and church dinners had a side dish of gelatin in some shape or form. It wasn't until 1994, though, that a Jell-O executive confirmed that Utahns consumed the most lime-flavored Jell-O per capita of any state. (Most places prefer red). The following recipes might be some of the reasons for its popularity:


GRANDMA HINAND'S GREEN JELL-O WITH PINEAPPLE AND COTTAGE CHEESE

2 (3-ounce) packages green gelatin

1 cup Cool Whip

1/2 cup mayonnaise

1/2 cup drained crushed pineapple

1/2 cup drained small curd cottage cheese

Prepare gelatin according to package directions, but with 1/2 cup less water. Chill until firm. When firm, beat it and fold in Cool Whip, mayonnaise, pineapple and cottage cheese. Pour in serving dish and return to refrigerator to chill until firm. — The Pin Hut


FLUFFY GREEN JELL-O SALAD

1 small package lime-flavored gelatin

1 large can crushed pineapple

1 small carton cottage cheese

1 small (8-ounce) container whipped topping (such as Cool Whip)

Mix gelatin with pineapple. Add cottage cheese and whipped topping. Refrigerate until serving.


GREEN JELL-O WITH SHREDDED CARROTS

1 large package green gelatin

2 cups shredded raw carrots

Prepare gelatin according to package directions. Chill until partially set. Fold in carrots and allow to chill until firm.


FRY SAUCE

In Utah, you'll hear "Do you want fry sauce with that?" about as often as "Do you want fries with that?" "Invented" around 1949 by the Arctic Circle drive-in chain, the original fry sauce is a ketchup-mayo concoction with nine other "secret" seasonings that Arctic Circle doesn't divulge. Lots of other burger places have their own recipes. For folks who have moved out of state and miss Arctic Circle's version, company president Gary Roberts says the company will send a couple of free sample packets on request. Write to P.O. Box 339, Midvale UT 84047 — don't call. The company has had requests from nearly every spot on the globe. One woman in Los Angeles ordered a case of fry sauce to present to her new husband at their wedding, said Roberts.

1 cup mayonnaise

1 cup ketchup

Other spices as desired

Mix together and serve as a dip for french fries and onion rings (also good on hamburgers).


FUNERAL POTATOES

Although known by other titles, this casserole got its nickname by being served at so many post-funeral dinners.

2 10-ounce packages frozen hash browns (or 1 2-pound package, or 6 boiled potatoes, shredded or cubed)

1/2 cup chopped onions

1 pint sour cream

1 can cream of chicken soup

1 can cream of celery soup

1/2 to 1 cup shredded cheddar cheese

Pepper to taste (due to the soups, it usually needs no salt)

1/2 stick butter, melted

1 cup crushed corn flakes

Allow hash browns to thaw about 30 minutes. Mix together onions, sour cream, soups, cheese and pepper, then mix in potatoes. Place all ingredients in a 9-by-13-inch casserole dish. Mix butter with corn flakes and sprinkle on top of the casserole. Bake, uncovered, at 350 degrees for 45 minutes to 1 hour.

Microwave: Before adding cornflake crumbs, cook 10 minutes on high. Stir. Sprinkle on cornflake crumbs and cook an additional 10 minutes.


THE MORMON MUFFIN

The King family of Ogden's Rainbow Gardens opened the Greenery Restaurant in 1976. They wanted to have a "pioneer" signature item similar to the bran muffins enjoyed by their great-grandmother Nana Chaffin. They enlisted T. Upton Ramsey, a Salt Lake cooking teacher and food writer, to come up with a modern-day version of "Mormon Muffins," which has been served at their restaurant ever since. This recipe yields around 5 dozen muffins; you may want to divide it. (It's similar to the "6-Week Muffin" recipe, where you made a big batch of batter and refrigerated for up to several weeks, then took out enough batter to bake up fresh muffins each day. But due to concerns for salmonella food poisoning, it's recommended to only refrigerate the batter overnight.)

2 cups boiling water

5 teaspoons baking soda

1 cup shortening

1 cup sugar

4 eggs

1 quart buttermilk

5 cups flour

1 teaspoon salt

4 cups All Bran or 100% bran cereal

2 cups bran flakes

1 cup chopped walnuts

Add baking soda to boiling water and set aside. In a large bowl, whip shortening and sugar until light and fluffy. Add the eggs slowly. Mix well. Add buttermilk, flour and salt and mix well. Add soda water very slowly. Gently fold the cereals and walnuts into the mix. Let muffin mix sit, refrigerated, overnight. Fill greased muffin tins about halfway full. Bake at 350 degrees for 30 minutes. Let cool 5 minutes before serving.


RED PUNCH SUPREME

The Red Punch pin depicts the red fruit punch often served at church parties and socials, since the health code of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints restricts the use of alcohol, coffee and tea.

2 quarts Kool-Aid or fruit drink mix

1 liter drink mix or Kool-Aid in a punch bowl

Pour 7-Up or Sprite over the top. Serve with ice.


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