May 13, 2022 | LIFE | By Nicky Shapiro | Illustration by Patil Khakhamian
A Jell-O shot is a vehicle for alcohol consumption consisting of three simple ingredients: water [H2O], Jell-O [?], and grain alcohol [C2H5OH]. The Jell-O shot – labeled so because of a Jell-O-like consistency and flavor – has become widely popular amongst party-consumed college youth. Unsurprisingly, the exact origin of the Jell-O shot is unknown, however, according to Wikipedia, experts in the field have identified similar concoctions being produced with aspic (meat jelly) and wine dating back to 14th century France.
At Colorado College, this once French delicacy has taken a new form, that of the stimulus for an annual Halloween party known as Jell-O-Ween. Hosted by the campus’ Sigma Chi fraternity chapter, we can think of Jell-O-Ween as a Halloween party, but with Jell-O, so, like, Jell-O-Ween. Get it?
Now, you may be asking yourself questions like: “Who cares?” Or, “how is this relevant?” Great questions, you beautiful reader. With the school year coming to a close, I feel it is only right to fully explore the mystery of this night before moving on, and hey, you’ve read up until now so you must be somewhat interested.
At CC, for a party to take place off-campus or in an on-campus apartment, the hosts must fill out a party registration form through the school and are “encouraged” to abide by a set of guidelines listed on the CC website. This list includes suggestions like wear a KN95 mask except when actively eating or drinking, keep gatherings outside, “avoid games where cups are shared,” and “lower the volume of your music so guests can speak without standing close together.”
This past Halloween, the fraternity, who had filled out a party registration form, was forced to cancel Jell-O-Ween after campus security officers showed up unannounced, according to Sigma Chi brother Stricky Kellogg ’25. They arrived at the house for an inspection at 3:00 p.m. when the brothers were expecting them at 9:00 p.m.
I caught up with some brothers in the upstairs bathroom of Sigma Chi on a loud Friday night. When asked what happened, Sigma Chi brother and Social Chair Thomas Treadwell ’24 said “we didn’t disclose the hard alcohol as much as we should have.”
“It was kinda bad because we were doing everything in the kitchen,” said Kellogg. “So they kind of just walked right in the door and [the alcohol] was right there.”
For the brothers of Sigma Chi, this meant no Jell-O, no shots, and not even a Jell-O shot.
The alcohol mentioned included both vodka and Everclear. Subjectively (bad journalist alert), being the more gnarly of the two, Everclear is a brand of grain alcohol sold in 60%, 75.5%, 94.5%, and 95% alcohol by volume. According to the Everclear Wikipedia page, its uses (besides being utilized in Jell-O-shots) include “a household ‘food-grade’ cleaning, disinfecting, or stove fuel alcohol.”
Kellogg said the fraternity “had a plan to make alcoholic Jell-O shots for the brothers only and then [make] a shit ton of non-alcoholic Jell-O shots that [they] were just gonna give out to people.”
The brothers also told me that in preparation for Jell-O-Ween they spent a week’s worth of work putting up decorations and spent $2,500 of their own money.
Curious as to what members of the other fraternity chapter on campus were thinking, I spoke with Kappa Sigma Beta Omega brother Samuel Treat ’24.
“I think that was incentive for Greek life as a whole to take stock of itself and be like, huh, we are not golden, we cannot put up these giant signs saying we have alcohol, come here,” Treat said.
“The giant banners that we had were not necessary,” Kellogg agreed.
For the small group of CC students I spoke with about the canceling of Jell-O-Ween, the reactions were mixed.
When asked about how she felt about Jell-O-Ween being canceled, student Leyla Kramarsky ’24 said she was “euphoric.”
“I think Jell-O-Ween would be fun, but I don’t think Jell-O shots are fun,” Izzy Roe ’25 said.
“How could it not be fun? It’s literally Jell-O,” student Lucy Flannagan ’24 said.
Perhaps it was the lore of a booze-filled Jell-O-Ween that grabbed students’ attention; it’s been two years since the event has taken place, and none of the people I’ve mentioned above have ever actuallybeen to a Jell-O-Ween party.
Although the tone of this story has been relatively light so far, according to Naomi Bram ’23, the Jell-O-Ween she attended in 2019 hosted serious concerns.
Bram told me that when she was in attendance, she was groped by men in morph suits and that some of the Jell-O shots were roofied.
“Who knows if it was even from the frat guys,” Bram said. “It might have just been some random dude.”
Of the four campus security officers I spoke with, none recalled the canceling of Jell-O-Ween or any related past issues. However, they did speak on their roles in managing the social scene at CC.
“We don’t have anything against social events, we just make sure they are safe because we’re concerned about your safety,” Officer Edgardo Antonio said.
“People invite people into their homes that they do not know,” another officer who wished to remain anonymous said. “That’s not a very safe environment at all.”
Parties will continue to happen at CC and there will be more attempts at Jell-O-Ween in the future, according to the Sigma Chi brothers. Of course, these parties should be fun, but more importantly, how can hosts ensure the safety and comfort of all attendees?