Amanda Bowman Changes The Dessert Scene with Psychedelic Jello

Wobble baby, wobble baby, wobble baby, wobble.

Photograph by Chris Von Holle

After her freelance and restaurant work slowed to a crawl during the first year of the COVID-19 pandemic, Amanda Bowman started thinking about gelatin. Specifically, that of the psychedelic 1960s variety. “I had lots of wacky ideas about creating gelatin pieces,” she says. “The sculptural nature of a tower of gelatin, wobbling with any movement, is just so fun.” Out of this sprung Bowman’s home-baking business Calliope Sweets. She scours yard sales, antique malls, and the like looking for molds to shape her gelatinous creations, which have included everything from strawberries and grapefruit to apricot Bavarian cream and avocado. Gelatin isn’t exactly a popular ingredient in modern dishes, but that doesn’t bother Bowman, who takes custom orders through Instagram (@enjoycalliope). “Growing up with Jell-O Jigglers and dusty ’50s cookbooks, it’s easy to turn your nose up and dismiss it as lowbrow,” she says. “That’s what I appreciate about it. It’s dessert, which is a totally unnecessary thing to consume, so why not make it extra extra?”

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