In 1845, industrialist, inventor, and philanthropist Peter Cooper, of Tom Thumb engine and Cooper Union fame, obtained the first patent for a gelatin dessert. Coopernever promoted the product.
In 1895, Pearl B. Wait, a cough syrup manufacturer from Le Roy, New York who dealt in patent medicines, bought the patent from Peter Cooper and turned Cooper's gelatin dessert into a prepackaged commercial product. His wife, May David Wait, renamed the dessert "Jell-O." However, they were also unsuccessful in selling the product.
Frank Woodward, a school dropout and, who by the age of 20 had his own business, bought the rights to Jell-O for $450.