When I was small my Kentucky grandparents used to take my cousin and me to the Blue Boar smorgasbord. Despite the range of options, I only ever got one combination: mashed potatoes and macaroni and cheese. Once I’d had all the starch I could hold, I’d return to guide my tray along the silver bars and select my own little green lagoon topped with a swan-like crest of Cool Whip in a black melamine bowl. Lime Jello. Perhaps it was my grandfather’s influence. Far before the time of corporate branding, he was a “congealed salad” connoisseur.

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Popped collars. Layered pastel polos. Ribbon belts. Monogrammed everything. It’s hard to live in this town and not occasionally start at the sheer pervasiveness of prep. This pie is Charlottesville prep meets church picnic. It is silly and endearing and nostalgic, and I will probably never make it again. But I encourage you to at least once.

Joy the Baker shifted Peabody’s Lime Jello Conspiracy Salad into pie form and added her own layer to the story. And now I’m adding mine.

But for the recipe itself I’ve only made a few minor tweaks. First, I used real whipped cream instead of Cool Whip (mostly because I had it in the fridge). It also gave me the chance to try a short cut for stabilizing whipped cream: adding 1-2 t. of instant vanilla pudding powder as you whip. I wouldn’t recommend this for a more fussy or refined dessert, but for one where a slight hint of Nabisco is OK it works well. And I toasted the pecans since I am incapable of adding untoasted nuts to a dessert. I also emphasized the prep by using just the pink and green marshmallows.

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Graham Cracker Crust

1 2/3 cups graham cracker crumbs

3 Tablespoons sugar

1/4 cup plus 2 Tablespoons melted butter

Mix together graham cracker crumbs, sugar and butter until well combined

Press into a 9 inch pie pan.  Bake at 350 degrees F for 7 to 9 minutes.  Remove from the oven and let cool completely before adding filling.

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Filling

1 (6 ounce) package  Lime Jello

1 cup boiling water

1 (8 ounce) package cream cheese, softened

1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract

1 (15 ounce) can mandarin oranges, drained

1 (8 ounce) can crushed pineapple, drained

1 cup Sprite

1/2 cup pecans, chopped and lightly toasted

1 pint whipping cream, whipped and stabilized/sweetened with 1-2 t. instant Jello pudding

Boil water and add Jello, stir until dissolved.  In a mixing bowl, beat the cream cheese and the vanilla extract until fluffy. Stir in the Jello and beat until smooth.  Add the pineapple, oranges, soda and pecans.  Mix until incorporated.  Chill the mixture in refrigerator for about 30-40 minutes, so that when you lift it with a spoon it’s clumpy.  While filling chills, whip the cream adding the pudding mix to stabilize. Fold 3/4 of the whipped cream into the filling. Refrigerate remaining cream.

Pour filling  into cooled pie shell and refrigerate for 3-4 hours until firm.  After the pie has firmed up, top with the remaining whipped cream.  Top with as many marshmallows as you like!

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Don’t be fooled– this seeming skeptic is now on his fourth slice.

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