electric kool-aid


Kool-Aid is a brand of artificially-flavored drink mix owned by the Kraft Foods Company.

Invention and production

Kool-Aid was invented by Edwin Perkins and his wife Kitty in Hastings, Nebraska, USA. Its predecessor was a liquid concentrate called Fruit Smack. To reduce shipping costs, in 1927, Perkins discovered a way to remove the liquid from Fruit Smack, leaving only a powder. This powder was named Kool-Ade. A few years later, it was renamed 'Kool-Aid' due to a change in U.S. government regulations regarding the need for fruit juice in products using the term "Ade" . Perkins moved his production to Chicago in 1931 and Kool-Aid was sold to General Foods in 1953.

Hastings still celebrates a yearly summer festival called Kool-Aid Days on the second weekend in August, in honor of their city's claim to fame.

Other uses

Dyeing Fabric and Yarn

Kool-aid dyes Switchin' Secret (light green/tan), and grape (purple) can be used to tone down the otherwise day-glo colors. A typical formula is one packet of Kool-aid per ounce of fiber, combined with 1/2 cup of water and optionally, a tablespoon of vinegar. Heat is used to set the color, usually by steaming or boiling.

Hair Dye

Using a packet of Kool-aid, a spoonful of corn starch, and a small amount of water, a paste can be made and applied to the hair. Kurt Cobain, of the band Nirvana, had his hair dyed with red Kool-Aid and also added purple highlights before a performance on Saturday Night Live performing Smells Like Teen Spirit.

Advertising and promotion

The mascot of Kool-Aid, Kool-Aid Man (aka The Big Man), is a large anthropomorphic frosty pitcher filled with Kool-Aid (usually cherry, though other flavors have been used). He was introduced in Kool-Aid advertising shortly after General Foods acquired the brand. In TV and print ads, Kool-Aid Man was known for bursting suddenly through walls, seemingly summoned by the making and imbibing of Kool-Aid by children. His catch phrase is "Oh, yeah!" For many years, the Kool-Aid Man was portrayed by a live-action actor in a giant pitcher suit; starting in the mid-1990s, the character was computer-generated. The most recent Kool-Aid commercial, however, features a new actor in a whole-new pitcher costume.

"Drinking the Kool-Aid"

The earliest known use of the term in its figurative, non-literal context (that is, outside descriptions of people actually drinking real Kool-Aid), is from a 1987 quote about former Washington, D.C., mayor Marion Barry in the Washington Post.

The term is derived from the 1978 cult suicide in Jonestown, Guyana. Jim Jones, the leader of the Peoples Temple, persuaded his followers to move to Jonestown. Late in the year he ordered his followers to commit suicide by drinking grape-flavored Flavor Aid laced with potassium cyanide. A camera from inside the compound shows a large chest being opened, clearly showing boxes of both Flavor Aid and Kool-Aid. There is also testimony from criminal investigators at the Jonestown inquest stating that there were "cool aid" [sic] packets there. It is unknown whether these are a reference to the Kool-aid brand packets from the trunk, or simply a generic use of the more popular brand for the product. In what is now commonly called the "Jonestown Massacre", a large majority of the 913 people later found dead drank the brew. (The discrepancy between the idiom and the actual occurrence is likely due to Flavor Aid's relative obscurity,compared to the easily recognizable Kool-Aid.) An earlier usage than 1987 can be attested at least as early as 1982 in the film "The Slumber Party Massacre" by Amy Holden Jones. In the scene where Valerie 'Val' Bates prepares Kool-Aid, she offers a glass to her sister and says "As the famous Jim Jones once said: 'should have been drinking Kool-Aid'".

The saying "Do not drink the Kool-Aid" now commonly refers to the Jonestown tragedy, meaning "Do not trust any group you find to be a little on the kooky side," or "Whatever they tell you, do not believe it too strongly. Fox News commentator Bill O'Reilly is famous for using the term in this manner.

Having "drunk the Kool-Aid" also refers to being a strong or fervent believer in a particular philosophy or mission — wholeheartedly or blindly believing in its virtues.

This expression can also be used to refer to the activities of the Merry Pranksters, a group of people associated with novelist Ken Kesey who, in the early 1960s, traveled around the United States and held events called "Acid Tests", where LSD-laced Kool-Aid was passed out to the public (LSD was legal in the U.S. until 1966). Those who drank the "Kool-Aid" passed the "Acid Test". "Drinking the Kool-Aid" in that context meant accepting the LSD drug culture, and the Pranksters' "turned on" point of view. These events were described in Tom Wolfe's 1968 classic "The Electric Kool-Aid Acid Test". However the expression is never used figuratively in the book, but only literally; therefore, the book is not the origin of the term.

Genericized trademark

The Kool-Aid brand is an example of a genericized trademark — a brand name which has become the generic term for a type of product. Different brands of flavored drink powder, such as Flavor-Aid and store brand versions, are sometimes referred to as Kool-Aid, even if the consumer is aware that the product is not the actual Kool-Aid brand. As such, many uses of Kool Aid now are labeled as Kool Aid brand.

Post Note: Kool-Aid brand is still a registered trademark in the United States. It may be in danger of becoming generic, similar to Xerox(r), but it is still alive. Search "Kool-Aid" on TESS at the US Patent and Trademark Office website:


Original 6 flavors Strawberry, Cherry, Grape, Lemon, Orange, Root-Beer, Raspberry (Discontinued)
Singles flavors Cherry, Tropical Punch, Orange, Watermelon, Grape
Sugar-Free flavors Double Double Cherry, Triple Awesome Grape, Lemonade, Soarin' Strawberry Lemonade, Tropical Punch
Agua Frescas flavors Jamaica, Tamarindo, Mango, Pineapple, Mandarina Tangerine
Other flavors worldwide or previously available Frutas, Frutas Vermilhas, Grape Blackberry, Grosella, Guaraná, Kolita, Lemon, Lemonade Sparkle, Orange Enerjooz, Chocolate. Apple, Berry Blue, Black Cherry, Bunch Berry, Cherry, Cherry Cracker, Cola, Eerie Orange, Frutas, Golden Nectar, Grape, Grapeberry Splash, Great Bluedini, Incrediberry, Kickin-Kiwi-Lime, Lemon-Lime, Lemonade, Man-o-Mangoberry, Mountainberry Punch, Oh-Yeah Orange-Pineapple, Orange, Pina-Pineapple, Pink Lemonade, Pink Swimmingo, Purplesaurus Rex, Rainbow Punch, Raspberry, Roarin' Raspberry Cranberry, Rock-a-dile Red, Rootbeer, Scary Black Cherry, Scary Blackberry, Sharkleberry Fin, Slammin' Strawberry-Kiwi, Soarin' Strawberry-Lemonade, Strawberry, Strawberry Falls Punch, Strawberry Split, Strawberry-Raspberry, Sunshine Punch, Surfin' Berry Punch, Tangerine, Tropical Punch, Watermelon-Cherry

Other Products

  • Kool-Aid pops (Canada and France,licensed by Nestlé)
  • Kool-Aid Twists Mt. Dew
  • Kool Aid Ice Cream Bars
  • Kool Aid Singles
  • Kool Aid Bursts

See also


External links

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