Few soft drinks share the pop culture significance of an ice-cold pitcher of Kool-Aid. A staple of summertime for literally generations of tykes, it is also a favorite among parents for it costs mere pennies per serving and is so easy to make – any youngster can whip up a batch on their own in just a few minutes – providing a perfect refreshment after a hard day’s play.
The story of Kool-Aid begins at the home of a Mr. Edwin Perkins, an inventor of sorts who, in 1927, created a flavorful drink called Fruit Smack. He marketed his creation in small glass bottles, which unfortunately had a tendency to break during shipping. He realized that if he could only remove the water from his beverage, the powdery substance that remained could be packaged in lightweight paper pouches. He dubbed his drink mix Kool-Ade, offered it in six flavors (cherry, strawberry, lemon-lime, orange, grape and raspberry), and sold it in packets that cost a whopping ten cents. And, when the Great Depression rolled around a few years later, he cut that price in half, making it irresistible for families struggling to make ends meet. Its popularity continued to grow in the years that followed and, when the 50s arrived, Perkins’ factory was churning out almost a million packets of Kool-Aid per day.
In 1975, a particularly memorable year in Kool-Aid history, Kool-Aid Man burst onto the scene … literally. Whenever a gaggle of kids were suffering from a little summertime dehydration, this smiling advertising mascot would come crashing through a nearby wall, ready to assist with an icy pitcher of the brightly-colored (and nutritionally-void) nectar. He would go on to became the iconic spokesman for the product for decades, eventually leading to his own comic book series and video games featuring the Kool-Aid Man.
Kool-Aid is sure to bring back a flood of memories to just about every former kid. Perhaps it’s the day you made your first batch, unassisted in the kitchen, or poured it into ice cube trays and adding toothpicks to make your own popsicles. Maybe it’s just the rainbow of colors we painted our lips and tongues (okay, probably our entire digestive tract), enjoying glass after glass of this fruity concoction. Kool-Aid was a part of every summer vacation, a tradition passed from generation to generation, and as such, is one of the most iconic childhood beverages ever created.
If you would like to share your own personal Kool-Aid memories with us, we’d love to hear them in our comments section. Meanwhile, we tip our hats to Kool-Aid Man and his wares for keeping us all quenched for so many decades.