The Noah Project

Rebuilding a sustainable world.

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Green Jello and Fry Sauce: Utah’s Food Folklore

What is “Utah food?” Many Utah natives grew up eating Jell-O, fry sauce, deep-fried scones, and “funeral” potatoes. BYU folklorist and English professor Eric Eliason is studying these food traditions and what they say about people and cultures. Utah festivals and fairs celebrate these traditions and offer authentic Utah foods all in one place, often introducing new variations like deep fried Jell-O.

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Midcentury Map of American Folklore

Folklore Map

This map, by social realist artist William Gropper, was created to showcase the diversity of national myths and folk stories and was distributed abroad through the U.S. Department of State starting in 1946. (You can see it up close by clicking on the image below to arrive at a zoomable version, or by navigating to the map’s page on the website of the Library of Congress.)

The “folklore” on display in this richly illustrated map is a soup of history, music, myth, and literature. Frankie and Johnny are cheek-by-jowl with a wild-eyed John Brown; General Custer coexists with “Git Along Little Dogies.” Utah is simply host to a group of “Mormons,” in which a bearded man holds up stigmata-marked hands to a small group of wives and children, while a figure labeled “New England Witches” flies over New Hampshire, Massachusetts, and Vermont.

Rebecca Onion’s insightful article on William Gropper and the map can be found here.