A Success Story: Jell-O

A man named Pearle Bixby Wait was trying to make a better cough syrup in 1897 when one of his experiment ended up as a ball of gelatin.

He trademarked his product under the name Jell-O. His wife got the idea of adding fruit flavors to it, and they figured it made a decent dessert.

Hoping to profit from the jiggly concoction, he hawked it door to door for two years. Much to his dismay, he found that no one wanted to buy dessert from a door-to-door Jell-O salesman.

In 1899 he gave up on his whole enterprise and sold the rights to Jell-O to his neighbor Francis Woodward for $450. At first, Woodward didn’t have any success selling Jell-O either, but he didn’t give up.

He sent out a well-dressed sales force to move his product. He began to advertise aggressively.

A mere four years later, Woodward was a millionaire. This was no easy feat considering his product cost a couple of cents a box.

Salesmen would always emphasize the product’s aesthetic appeal as well as its convenience and taste.

In a brilliant sales move, they partnered with the officials who ran Ellis Island and ritually served bowls of Jell-O under signs that read “Welcome to America”.