How young is too young to watch a woman turn into a growling demon dog creature? How old is too old to be afraid of a ghost librarian? These are the crucial questions imprinted on my sister and me during repeat VHS viewings of Ghostbusters throughout the 1980s — issues almost as crucial as knowing that when someone asks you if you’re a god, you say yes.
I still get nervous flutters in my stomach watching that first scene set in the New York Public Library, multiple decades after peeking through my fingers for the first time. (OK, the first 20 times. I’m weak.) Among the many movies that functioned as maybe-a-bit-too-PG babysitters throughout my childhood, Ghostbusters is one of the rare few — including Clue, Labyrinth, and Beetlejuice — that holds up to grown-up viewings.
Egon Spengler may have beaten David Bowie’s Jareth to the punch as one of my first subconscious crushes, but it wasn’t his presence alone that put Ghostbusters in the pantheon — it was a buddy movie that transcended the genre, laced with quick, quotable wit and a story that could be simultaneously uproarious and terrifying. Quite simply, like a power-hungry Sumerian god, it never gets old. Children today have the same primal understanding of why the Stay Puft Marshmallow Man is a brilliant final villain as we did in 1984. Peter, Ray, Egon, Winston, Dana, Louis, and Janine were a team for the ages. They came, they saw, they kicked its ass, and won my forever fandom.
I also maintain that Ghostbusters 2 is one of the rare sequels that can hold its own with the original. Viggo the Carpathian! The river of pink slime flowing underground through Guastavino-tiled subway stations! The Statue of Liberty being liberated via the sweet tunes of Jackie Wilson!
But pink slime is for another recipe. As a young, impressionable Ghostbusters fan whose dad had no problem with packaged food tie-ins, Ecto Cooler flowed through my veins in direct accordance with my passion for the movie. It was one of the four major food groups in my house for years, long after the Ghostbusters cartoon spinoff and probably long after my interests moved from New York supernatural crime fighters to Sassy magazine. Even though Slimer wasn’t the movie’s main draw in my eyes, I was happy to slurp up his cleverly marketed products.
Since everything old is new again, Ecto Cooler is making a limited comeback to promote the new Ghostbusters movie (although it's as elusive as Gozer in my local grocery stores — I haven’t been able to get my hands on a can despite all my sleuthing.) Inspired by the original orangey flavor of Ecto, this Slimer Jello also has a touch of passion fruit for a little extra punch. Just remember, when pouring your orange and passion fruit juices into the Jello, don't cross the streams.
1/2 cup water
2/3 cup strained freshly squeezed lime juice (from about 8 medium limes)
2/3 cup granulated sugar
1 cup strained freshly squeezed orange juice (from about 4 large Valencia oranges)
1 cup passion fruit juice
Green food coloring
Pour the water into a small, wide bowl and sprinkle the gelatin evenly across the surface of the water. Set aside to bloom and absorb the water.
Heat the lime juice and sugar in a small (1-quart) saucepan over medium heat, stirring frequently until the sugar dissolves and the juice comes to a low simmer. Stir in the bloomed gelatin and cook until fully dissolved in the juice, about 1 minute more.
Remove from the heat and stir in the orange and passion fruit juices. Add green food coloring 1 drop at a time to reach your desired level of Slimer green.
Pour into an 8- or 9-inch square baking dish. Refrigerate until set, at least 3 hours. Scoop and serve.
- Passion fruit juice: If it's not in the juice aisle, passion fruit juice (often called passion fruit cocktail or nectar) can often be found in the international section of the supermarket; Goya's cans or cartons are widely available.
- Food coloring: I use super-concentrated gel food coloring, so 1 drop is more than enough to tint this batch of Jello a bright, Slimer-iffic green. You may need a few more drops if you're using the old-school liquid version.