I ran across a salad that begs the question – salad or dessert? I was researching regionally favored dishes when I noticed a mention of Snickers Salad. SNICKERS® like the candy bar, I wondered. So, I looked it up. And yes, it is Snickers like the candy bar.
Snickers salad is popular in the US Upper Midwest. It’s made by combining chopped up Snickers bars with chopped Granny Smith apples, whipped cream, and pudding. Some people drizzle it a little caramel sauce. And while it fits one dictionary definition of salad – any mixture or assortment – this is definitely dessert.
Snickers salad reminds me of a salad my family served made by combining Cool Whip, cottage cheese, uncooked strawberry Jell-O®, and canned pineapple. You can include mini marshmallows and I think someone dared to add coconut once. I didn’t understand why we called that salad either, but I consumed it.
Both of these dessert salads get 5 stars when you search online recipes. And it looks like some families have fancy names and use fresh fruit in their Cool Whip/Jello salad. We were never that sophisticated.
Now I’m learning there’s a similar salad in the Midwest called Watergate salad. This version is made with pistachio pudding, canned pineapple, Cool Whip, marshmallows, and crushed pecans. Pistachio and crushed pecans are a bit highbrow for my family so no surprise I haven’t heard of this one. Apparently, the recipe was published by General Foods, I’m guessing around 1972.
I guess the molded Jello salads of 1960s popularity set the stage for more decadent salads to follow. And thank goodness, because I’ve never met a Jello salad I liked. You may be able to coat fruit cocktail in bright red Jell-O and make it more pleasing to the eye, but you can’t make the texture or flavor appeal to me.
A discussion of dessert salads has to include ambrosia. This occasionally made the table at family gatherings. Popular here in the South, it contains mandarin oranges, pineapple, marshmallows, coconut, and chopped pecans. My grandmother liked to add apples. Seems like there may have been maraschino cherries in it as well although I don’t think they were always included. All of this was tossed with a combination of sour cream and Cool Whip.
One of the best things about dessert salads is how quick and easy they are to make. Sometimes there’s a little chopping, but mostly there’s dumping, mixing, and serving. And as desserts go, at least some of them contain nuts, fresh fruit, and cottage cheese or sour cream.
I’ve been known to eat in a nontraditional order. That means I can eat one of these salads at any point in a meal and feel just fine about it.
There are enough of these mixtures, we should probably create a food category specifically called Dessert Salads. But until we do, you just have to go by the ingredients to know whether the course they belong in is salad or dessert.
Disclosure of Material Connection: I have not received any compensation for writing this post. I have no material connection to the brands, products, or services that I have mentioned. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255: “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”