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LINDA WERTHEIMER, HOST:

We have been chewing on unique holiday food traditions the last few weeks. The series led to a discovery for freelancer Caitlin Shetterly. Her husband, Daniel Davis, who's willing to eat almost anything, has an aversion to a certain Christmas treat.

DANIEL DAVIS: Oh, god. That's easy. Ambrosia salad.

CAITLIN SHETTERLY, BYLINE: Ambrosia salad sounds like something really yummy, but Dan says that every Christmas when he and his family piled into the car for the long drive to his mother's family in the mill town of Rumford, Maine, he knew what was waiting for him.

DAVIS: On the table next to the turkey every year was a bowl of green Jell-O with Cool Whip and marshmallows and cherries and pineapple and nuts, and it was the grossest looking and tasting thing ever. Ever. And it was like eating a mouthful of something squishy and sugary and oddly rather airy. It was just electric green. I mean, what else, more do I have to say?

SHETTERLY: Okay. I needed to go to the source of Dan's Christmas pain. So I called up my mother-in-law Esther to ask her if she knew that Dan just hated her Christmas ambrosia salad. She was shocked, which shocked Dan. Does it surprise you that your mother had no idea that you hated it?

DAVIS: It does. I mean, I thought I always made it very clear that I didn't like it. And at least if by not saying it directly, it was never on my plate.

(SOUNDBITE OF LAUGHTER)

SHETTERLY: And what about your brother? The fact that she called him recently to say that Danny hates the ambrosia salad. Did you like it?

(SOUNDBITE OF LAUGHTER)

DAVIS: Well, I love the fact that he and I never talked about our dislike for the ambrosia salad, but you know, 30 years later we both agree that it was the worst thing ever.

SHETTERLY: So of course we had to go to his mother's house to try it.

ESTHER GRIFFIN: I have to thin out the cream cheese with pineapple juice so that it will fold into the Cool Whip. And then you add the Jell-O and the pineapple and you let it sit. And cherries too. It has cherries. It's very pretty.

SHETTERLY: When was the last time you made this?

GRIFFIN: Probably the last time we had Christmas or Thanksgiving with my family, which was a long time ago. A long time.

SHETTERLY: It took awhile, but finally we were able to cajole Dan into trying it, just to see if he still hated it.

DAVIS: That terrifies me.

(SOUNDBITE OF LAUGHTER)

SHETTERLY: Why?

DAVIS: The texture, it's already - it's like a Hitchcock film where the perspective shifts and everything's growing in size.

SHETTERLY: How is it?

DAVIS: It's okay.

SHETTERLY: Like many of us, Dan has learned that the only way to get through Christmas is to ignore the red, white and green ambrosia salad jiggling next to the holiday ham and grin gamely. For NPR News, I'm Caitlin Shetterly.

RENEE MONTAGNE, HOST:

If you really, really want that recipe, it's at npr.org.

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