You may not actually know the name of this “salad”, but it’s that one with usually fruit and marshmallows and jello probably in a creamy base. Good ones have a variety of fruit and some coconut. Bad ones are mostly incredibly sweet creamy fluff with marshmallows and jello and if you’re lucky some fruit.
I had a craving so we made some for the family holiday party after I found a Serious Eats article about the history of it.
The short version is that originally – in the 1800s in the south of the United States – it was just fresh citrus, shredded coconut and a bit of sugar. Those ingredients would all be seasonal or rare treats then, even if now they are ubiquitous and often available year round. The marshmallows and creamy base came later. The cream base is varyingly cream, marshmallow fluff, cool-whip, sour cream, mayonnaise (!) or a mixture, often along with jello. Maraschino cherries, nuts and marshmallows pieces are also more modern.