Cooks Exchange

Cakes and salads are sweet legacies of the Watergate era

Watergate and Jell-O's introduction of pistachio pudding hit the news and stores at nearly the same time in the 1970s.

Jell-O created pistachio cake and pistachio salad recipes, which were later renamed Watergate cake and Watergate salad. Why? Some say it is because the cake and salad were both filled with nuts and covered with fluff. The cake's icing was renamed as Coverup Frosting.

In the late 1970s, Watergate cakes and salads were present at almost every potluck or church dinner. An old cookbook from a Methodist church in Orange, Texas, contains three Watergate/pistachio recipes. Some pistachio cakes were made as cakes in a Bundt pan without any icing.

About that same time, Paul Goll lived up North and also enjoyed the pistachio recipes. He asked readers for their help in finding a recipe.

On Friday, my daughter, who calls Watergate salad "green stuff," made the salad for a luncheon and not a spoonful was left. Some recipes, no matter the name, are handed down from generation to generation, just like the stories of the Watergate era.

"I've been making this cake since 1977, and I'm originally from up North as well," said Judy Eremich of Parrish. "This recipe has been a family favorite. This is so yummy. Enjoy!"


1 box (3 ounces) pistachio instant pudding mix

1 box (2-layer size) white cake mix

1 cup vegetable oil

3 eggs

1 cup ginger ale, 7-Up or club soda

1/2 cup chopped walnuts

Chopped coconut, optional, but I toss in a little coconut

Combine all ingredients and beat according to cake mix directions; bake in greased 9-by-13-by-2-inch pan 35 to 40 minutes at 350 degrees. Let cool and ice with following icing. If desired, top with chopped nuts and or coconut.


2 envelopes whipped topping mix

1 box (3 ounces) instant pistachio pudding mix

1-1/4 cups milk

Beat well until of spreading consistency. Frost cake.

-- Submitted by Judy Eremich

Marilyn Staudaher of Bradenton, sent in two recipes, one of which is similar to Eremich's except Staudaher uses 1 cup of chopped nuts. Here's her second cake that is done as a Bundt cake.


1 package white cake mix

1/2 cup oil

1 cup club soda

4 eggs

3/4 cup Hershey's chocolate syrup

Beat well. Pour 2/3 cup batter into Bundt pan. Add 3/4 cup Hershey's chocolate syrup to remaining batter and beat well. Spoon in remaining batter and swirl as in a marble cake. Bake in 350-degree oven 1 hour. Test for doneness as oven temperatures vary.

-- Submitted by Marilyn Staudaher

"I found this recipe earlier this year in 'The Gulf Gourmet' cookbook. It was contributed by Sue Dalto," said Meg Henson. "I made cupcakes instead of a cake. Delicious!"


1 package white cake mix

1 (3 ounces) package pistachio instant pudding

4 eggs

1 cup orange juice

1/2 cup oil

1 small can Hershey's Chocolate syrup

Powdered sugar

Add all ingredients except syrup at one time and beat 4 minutes. Pour 2/3 of batter in a well-greased spring form pan (not a tube pan). Mix remaining batter with 1 small can Hersey's Chocolate syrup and pour over top of mixture. Bake 1 hour at 350 degrees or until done. Sprinkle with powdered sugar while hot. Cool 2 hours before removing from pan. Do not invert cake.

-- Submitted by Meg Henson

"Just read your article in Wednesday's paper about Mr. Goll's request for a Watergate Cake," Mary Bourgeois said. "As I'm preparing to attend the Trochessett reunion May 26, that's exactly what I will be making. It's such a refreshing, cool dessert. Great for summer barbecues or picnics. Here is our family recipe -- not exactly sure from where it originated, but we've used it for years. And it's so easy to make."

Bourgeois' recipe is similar to Eremich's, but it is made in a tube pan and contains pecans as the nuts of choice. Bourgeois also uses more milk in her frosting.


1 (18 ounces) package white cake mix

1 cup salad oil

1/2 cup chopped pecans

1 (3 ounces) package instant pistachio pudding mix

3 eggs

1 cup club soda

Combine all ingredients in mixing bowl. Beat 4 minutes at medium speed. Pour into greased and floured tube pan (must use wax paper in tube pan). Bake at 350 degrees for 45 to 50 minutes. Cool on wire rack. Top with frosting as follows:


2 envelopes dry whipped topping mix

1 1/2 cups cold milk

1 (3 ounces) package instant pistachio pudding mix

Combine whipped topping mix and milk. Beat on high speed until peaks form. Add pudding mix and beat until fluffy. Frost cake. Enjoy!

-- Submitted by Mary Bourgeois

This is called a pistachio Ripple Cake and is made with yellow cake mix and raspberry or strawberry preserves. It's from Park Avenue United Methodist Cookbook in Orange, Texas. I like the combination of the pistachio and berry flavors.


1 package yellow cake mix

1 (3 ounces) pistachio instant pudding

4 eggs

1 cup sour cream

1/4 cup oil

1/2 cup raspberry or strawberry preserves

Blend all ingredients except preserves in large bowl; beat at medium speed 2 minutes. Blend preserves into 1 cup of the batter. Pour half of the remaining batter into greased and floured Bundt pan. Spoon raspberry or strawberry batter into pan away from sides. Spoon on the last half of the batter. Bake at 350 degrees 50 minutes. Cool in pan 15 minutes and remove.


1 small tub non-dairy whipped topping

1 package pistachio pudding

Enough milk to make thick frosting

Mix ingredients until frosting is thick. Spoon onto cake.

With the Watergate salad, my daughter uses the following recipe, except she does not use the extra nuts but thinks the cherries are a must. She also does not use the banana.


1 (3 ounce) package instant pistachio pudding, dry

1 cup miniature marshmallows

1 (9-ounce) non-dairy whipped topping, thawed

1 (16 ounces) can crushed pineapple, undrained

1/2 cup chopped nuts

Make also add1/4 cup Maraschino cherries and a sliced banana just before serving.

Combine all ingredients. Serves about 8.

-- Submitted by Elyssa Yeager

Still looking

Mary Huey of Long Beach, Miss., wants the recipe for Orange Grove cake. Please check those recipe files.

Getting canned

Whether you grow a garden, visit a local farm to pick fresh produce or jump at a great price at your grocery store, it's wise to take advantage of the availability of that produce. One of the best, and a money saver, is to can those fruits and vegetables or to make jams, jellies, chow-chows and relishes.

What are your favorite foods to can? Share your recipes with fellow readers. Be sure to tell us whether you use the water-bath method or a pressure cooker.

Coming next week

Marie Panyik of Ellenton shares some Hungarian goulash recipes from a cookbook she picked up in Budapest, Hungary. Unfortunately, Watergate cakes crowded out these recipes. We also have more sweet potato recipes, including a dip.

Andrea Yeager, a freelance writer, can be reached at Send contributions or requests to Cook's Exchange, P.O. Box 4567, Biloxi, MS 39535-4567.