Culinary Cardinals: Whitey Herzog’s Coke Cherry Salad

Coke salad is a popular dish at church potlucks and BBQs. Mary Lou Herzog contributed seven recipes to “Cooking with the Cardinals,” so expect some future blog posts about “Slush Mixture” (a frozen cocktail) and “Green Lima Beans with Celery and Cheese Sauce” (did we ever eat veggies in the 80s without drizzling cheese on top of them?). Mary Lou ties for the lead with most recipes in the book, along with the wives of Bob Forsch and Brian Harper. I wonder if the wives were competitive about this.

You do have to wonder why these dishes are called “salads.” This one is so sweet that it’s really better as a dessert.

Here’s the recipe:

1 large pkg cherry Jell-O
1 can (#2) pineapple tidbits
1 can (#2) bing cherries and juice
14 oz warm Coke
1 cup walnut pieces

Drain juice from fruits (2 cups) into pan and bring to boil. Pour over Jell-O in bowl; stir until Jell-O is dissolved. Add Coke, then pineapple, cherries, and nuts. Refrigerate. 

“Can be topped with Cool Whip. Very good with Mexican food.”

IMG_3461I had no idea what “#2 can” meant, so I googled it. Apparently, cans used to be commonly numbered, and a #2 can held 16 oz. The recipe is simple, and the Jell-O mixture takes on a frothiness once you add the Coke. The only problem I had with this recipe is that it took forever for the gelatin to solidify. I chilled it five hours, and it was still not totally set when I unmolded it. It was sort of a leaning tower of Jell-O. It tasted much better the next day when it was fully set.

I’ve made Coke Salad before, according to a recipe of a friend’s mom, and that recipe contains no pineapple and instead contains cream cheese. It also uses hot water, not the fruit juice from the cans. No offense to Mary Lou, but I prefer my old version because of the consistency and because it’s not sickeningly sweet. You can find many variations of this recipe online.

Whitey and Mary Lou have been married 63 years! Here’s their pic in the cookbook, circa 1985.

FullSizeRender (1)

Here’s Whitey and Mary Lou in the parade for his Hall of Fame induction in 2010.


When she wasn’t cooking, Mary Lou sometimes cleaned windows – but these are the only windows she would clean!


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