Ever wondered what could be the story behind the unusual name and flavor combo of the popular classic “Watergate Salad”? We’re about to reveal it here.
Watergate salad is a symbol of grandmother’s love and sweet childhood memories to many Midwestern people. After all, it’s one of those classic American dishes that you only get at home during warm festivals, such as Thanksgiving, Easter Sundays, or Baby Showers rather than restaurants or parties.
But while growing up, we all get curious to know how such a unique dish was invented and why it is even called Watergate salad, although it doesn’t taste like salad at all.
We know you’re here out of such curiosity. And we won’t disappoint you. We’ll answer all your questions about Watergate salad in this article. Take a glance!
What is Watergate Salad?
Watergate salad is a very popular dish in the Midwestern states of America, especially where potluck is very prevalent. If you’re from there, you can relate. Though it’s widely popular by the name Watergate salad, it is also called Pistachio-Pineapple Delight, Green Goop, or Green Goddess salad.
Watergate salad has an attractive vibrant light green color that comes from its key ingredient, pistachio. It isn’t similar to what we conventionally know as a salad. It doesn’t have the common components of a salad, such as lettuce, veggies, and oil.
Rather, it has a creamy texture that comes from the pistachio Jell-O and marshmallow. Moreover, it is generally served with the whipped cream topping, so it bears the elegant look of a dessert.
But those who have ever had a Watergate salad know that it doesn’t completely taste like a dessert; it is something in between savory and dessert.
What is Watergate Salad Made of?
The classic and authentic Watergate Salad recipe contains pistachio Jell-O or pudding and canned pineapple as the key ingredients.
These two ingredients are combined with crushed pecans and marshmallows to create this masterpiece, and then it’s further topped with cool whip or mini marshmallows, and maybe a cherry on top.
It is usually served cold, but that’s optional as well. There are several variations of this authentic recipe that commonly substitute canned pineapple with other canned fruits, such as mandarin, orange, or fruit cocktail.
It has a very simple yet rich blend of flavors somewhat similar to ambrosia salad except for the inclusion of pistachio as a key ingredient. You can easily prepare it as a healthy and budget-friendly dish for the next potluck.
Types of Watergate Salad
The most common and classic identity of Watergate salad is the flavor combo of pistachio Jell-O and canned pineapple with the cool whip topping or mini marshmallows. It often looks like this:
Several other recipes replace these conventional ingredients with other ingredients for creating variety in flavor and look. Some of the most popular of such Watergate salad types are listed below.
- Pink Watergate Salad: As you know, the color of classic Watergate salad is usually green due to the presence of pistachio pudding in ample amounts, but the pink Watergate salad breaks this tradition with a vibrant pink color that comes from replacing pistachio with strawberry Jell-O.
- Hawaiian Watergate Salad: The Hawaiian Watergate salad has a completely different feel from the regular Watergate salad because it usually features banana and vanilla pudding mix instead of pistachio and is topped with mandarin.
- Coconut Watergate Salad: People fond of tropical flavors love including coconut in the recipes. Coconut Watergate salad has all the same ingredients as the usual Watergate salad but also includes coconut to enhance the flavor combination.
- Watergate Salad with Fruit Cocktail: In this Watergate salad variation, canned pineapple is replaced with canned fruit cocktail for more flavor and served with chunks of mandarin orange to balance it.
- Watergate Salad with Cream Cheese: If you’re a cheese lover, this is the Watergate salad type you’ll love the best. This Watergate salad recipe adds cream cheese to the regular recipe to create a cheesy flavor within the usual flavor profile.
Why Is It Called Watergate Salad?
Now it’s time to answer the most intriguing question – why is Watergate salad named as such? Though the actual reason behind this unusual name is a mystery, there are several speculations.
The most convincing story behind Watergate salad is shared by Kraft Heinz as they’re claimed to be the inventor of this masterpiece. According to them, in 1975, a recipe was published from Kraft, the then General Foods, which was named Pistachio-Pineapple Delight.
It wasn’t anywhere referred to as Watergate salad by them. However, an anonymous food editor in Chicago renamed it Watergate salad and published it to promote interest.
We know what you’re thinking…
Does It Have Anything to Do with the Watergate Scandal?
Maybe or maybe not. Only the unnamed food editor from Chicago will be able to answer the purpose behind his renaming the dish. But intriguingly, the period when this dish was invented is just after the Watergate Scandal took place.
So, there is a good chance that the name of this dish was changed as a mockery to the scandal to attract people’s interest in it. But these are just speculations.
Can Watergate Salad Be Made in Advance?
Since Watergate salad is served chilled, it can definitely be made one or two days in advance. You just need to make sure you refrigerate it properly and timely because it won’t be a good idea to keep it outside at room temperature without refrigerating. If you do so, it won’t last more than a few hours.
Moreover, you can refrigerate it for two days max. The flavors will start to change and fade after two days, even after refrigerating.
Are You Supposed to Have Watergate Salad as Dessert?
Even though Watergate salad is called a dessert salad, it won’t really satisfy you as a dessert since it lacks sweet content. There is no added sugar. The sweetness of the Watergate salad only comes from the canned fruit.
It’s more likely used as a side dish in family dinners or potluck festivals. It can be a great addition to your Easter Sunday dinner menu as well. But it’s better to have it as a side dish like all other salads.
Hopefully, the information satisfied your curiosity about this intriguing dish.