TORONTO -- To be eaten at dinner or saved for dessert? Stuffed with shaved carrots or tinned peaches? These are among the many questions that can only be associated with one dish: the jellied salad.

The sugary concoction, made from gelatin stuffed with fruits or vegetables, initially rose to fame in the 1950s and 60s. Christopher White, a church minister from Ontario, said he thought he'd seen the last of jellied salads, once a mainstay at church functions.

But when White started doing some more research, he realized that the jellied salad is not just alive and well — it’s in the midst of a culinary moment.

“I can’t believe this is still out there and it’s still happening,” White told CTV News Channel on Saturday.

White said he realized the famous salad made a comeback when he saw a friend post his favourite comfort food — a jellied salad stuffed with a fruit cocktail — on social media.

To his surprise, the jellied salad never left and instead it has evolved. 

Instagram users have posted thousands of images of jellied salads stuffed with everything but the kitchen sink. White said the younger generation is using new ingredients and methods to add more layers and put their own spin on the dish.

“It’s different now, and they’re evolving into these beautiful jellied desserts,” he said.

White said he’s noticed some dishes that replace gelatin powder with agar-agar, a seaweed-based gelatin, that serves as a vegan alternative. 

White said the “joyfully jiggly” dish originated in the aftermath of the First World War, when — much like these days — home chefs were looking for sources of happiness in the kitchen. 

“They’re just fun and we really need some fun right now,” he said. 

White admits that jellied salads can be a divisive dish, and that you either love them or you hate them. But he said everyone needs to try the salad at least once.

“Your life is not yet complete until you’ve had the jellied salad,” White said.