Over the course of his life, Peter Cooper built a very diverse resume. A former presidential candidate and designer of the first steam locomotive, Cooper also held the first patent for the manufacture of gelatin.
The gelatin we eat in Jell-O typically comes from collagen extracted from the ground bones, hooves, and connective tissues of animals such as pigs or cows. For this reason, vegans, who eat no animal products, do not eat Jell-O, or any product containing gelatin.
Though it may not sound entirely appetizing, eating gelatin actually has health benefits. Gelatin capsules and powders are sometimes used by people with joint pain. Gelatin is also good for improving the condition of skin, hair, fingernails, and bones.
So how do bones and hooves turn into Jell-O? With a little bit of mad science!
As the mixture cools in the refrigerator, some of the bonds do not reconnect. The gaps fill with water, giving Jell-O that signature not-quite-solid wobble and wiggle.