During college, my roommate Laura informed me that this delightful mixture of sweet and salty is a regional treat that whets the appetites of those in Southwestern Pennsylvania and the surrounding areas all the way through Youngstown, OH. I think she is a liar and can't handle that such a delightfully trashy treat would actually find its way to where she grew up.
It's basic ingredients can almost completely be purchased at a convenience store, and nothing is fresh. I really feel like maybe the shelf life of a dessert like this is easily six months, as long as it's refrigerated.
I've never tried to find the caloric content, but it's probably somewhere between that of a Big Mac and Movie Theater Popcorn.
My Gram's Recipe
Jello Pretzel Salad
2 cups Thin, Crushed Pretzels
3 Tbsp. Sugar
3/4 cup melted oleo
1 lg Jello (and here we go with the shorthand. It's a large packet of strawberry jello)
2-10oz Strawberries (these are the super healthy sugary syrup, frozen strawberries)
1 small can of crushed pineapple with juice
8oz Cream Cheese
1 cup Sugar (yes, more sugar)
1 8oz Cool Whip
Mix pretzels, sugar and oleo. Pour into 13x9 pan. Bake at 400 degrees for 7 minutes. Cool for one hour. Dissolve Jello in 2 cups boiling water. Add berries and pineapple. Chill until partially set.
My favorite Jello Pretzel salad story involves my friend Garett's mother, Polly. She's a lovely woman that has not only beaten a raccoon to death with a flashlight (it was killing her chickens, what did you want her to do?), but she's also raised a billion wiener dogs and makes wedding cakes. Anyway, she made some Jello Pretzel Salad on a day that I happened to be over with Garett. I told her how much I really enjoyed this dessert, so she hacked off a piece the size of a floor tile and screamed, "Here You Go!" I looked at it...and for a minute...I actually considered eating it all before laughing hysterically. Garett and I managed to polish if off collectively.
But I still think about the stomach ache that might've been.