The Un-Salad

Culinary rules are made to be broken—and nothing breaks them more than a salad consisting of soda and marshmallows.

Summer, 2021 / No. 47
Brian Francis

I worked at Dairy Queen for a short stint, during my teenage years. When customers ordered a banana split, I’d ask what toppings they wanted. They were always shocked they could have toppings other than the usual strawberry, chocolate, and pineapple. It made me realize how many people assume there are unspoken rules when it comes to their food. And I say, those rules should be broken. Take the concept of salads, as an example.

Usually, when people think of the word “salad,” a number of things come to mind: iceberg lettuce, sliced radishes, the chunky, Silly Putty–hue of Thousand Island dressing. But how often do people stop to consider all of the other ingredients that can make up a salad? Ingredients like canned crushed pineapple, Jell-O, Cool Whip, and multicoloured miniature marshmallows. You just have to open your mind. And really, really loosen up your definition of the word “healthy.”

This issue, I’m bringing you the electric-green glory that is Seven-Up Salad. Yes, you heard that right. This is a salad made with soda pop, as well as melted marshmallows, Dream Whip, and sugar. (Truth be told, sugar is really the main ingredient in Seven-Up Salad. But the recipe does call for two bananas. And crushed pineapple. There’s also lime Jell-O. Which counts as another fruit . . . for some people, I’m sure.)

For those unfamiliar, 7Up is a lemon-lime soft drink, first invented in 1929. It originally was called Bib-Label Lithiated Lemon-Lime Soda. Needless to say, the name change was a smart move.

The recipe for Seven-Up Salad comes from my copy of The Beta Sigma Phi International Cookbook: Salads, published in 1970. There are two thousand salad recipes in this book, including Tuna Parfait Mold, Hot Dog Salad, and Eggnog Salad. (Suddenly, Seven-Up Salad is sounding a lot less weird, isn’t it?)

In spite of your likely reservations, I can assure you that Seven-Up Salad, not unlike the drink itself, is light, refreshing, and perfect for a hot summer day. In terms of being able to discern the taste of 7Up, the jury is still out on that. In fact, I’m not even sure why there are melted marshmallows in it. But why analyze when you can just eat? Besides, the real star of the show is the topping for the salad. The pineapple juice, Dream Whip, and egg combine to make a light custard that is soft, sweet, and fluffy. I’d even make the topping again and use it to frost an angel food cake. It’s that good.

You can serve Seven-Up Salad in a bowl, but I think serving it in tall glasses creates a sense of whimsy that plays up the recipe’s namesake. Just don’t serve it with a straw. Pineapple chunks are considerable obstacles, and they’re very, very hard to suck through narrow passageways. Some of your guests might pass out trying to do so. I’m speaking from experience. 

Sparkling, fresh, and very, very green, Seven-Up Salad is the perfect way to add more salad to your diet. And if the cut-off jean shorts start getting a little tighter this summer, don’t blame it on the salad.

Seven-Up Salad

(Serves 12)

Ingredients

2 100-gram packages of lime or lemon Jell-O

2 cups hot water

16 large marshmallows

1 litre of 7Up

1 520-millilitre can crushed pineapple, drained, and 1 cup juice, reserved

2 bananas, diced

1 egg, beaten

2 tablespoons flour

½ cup sugar

1 cup Dream Whip, prepared

Directions

1. Dissolve Jell-O in 1 cup hot water.

2. Cut marshmallows and add to 1 cup hot water. Let melt, then mix with Jell-O and let cool. 

3. Add 7Up to mixture. Let set partially, then add pineapple and bananas and let set until firm. 

4. If necessary, add water to reserved pineapple juice to make 1 cup liquid. 

5. Whisk together pineapple juice, egg, flour, and sugar in saucepan over medium heat. Stir constantly until thickened. Let cool.

6. Fold in Dream Whip. Spread over Jell-O and garnish with chopped nuts, if desired. 

Brian Francis recently published a memoir, Missed Connections. His most recent novel, Break in Case of Emergency, was a finalist for the Governor General’s Literary Awards. He writes a monthly advice column for Quill and Quire, and is a regular columnist for CBC Radio’s The Next Chapter. Last updated summer, 2021.