Kool-Aid is so much part of the American culture that there’s an expression involving the popular drink. Now to be fair the expression in question “drinking the Kool-Aid” has nothing to do with the flavored drink mix but the point is Kool-Aid has established itself in the American psyche. Just like other popular American brands like Coca Cola, McDonald’s, and Hollywood. But that doesn’t mean that most people know everything about it. On the contrary. For example:
10. Before the Powder there was Liquid
We all love Kool-Aid. The fruity drink comes in small and neat sachets that contain the powder. And as we’ll see later, you can do so much with that powder than just mix it with water and drink it. But for the generations of people who grew up to the familiar look and taste of the Kool-Aid packages, the idea that the drink came in other forms than as powder would seem alien and bizarre. But the truth is almost a hundred years ago, Edwin Perkins was still working out of his mom’s kitchen selling his fruit concentrate which came in the form of a liquid. Perkins was facing a big problem. The liquid was difficult to ship and it was also costly. It was called Fruit Smack and apart from the connotations that such a name would have 40 years later among the hippies, it wasn’t selling so well. So Perkins went back to his mom’s kitchen in Hastings, Nebraska, barricaded himself there and vowed he wouldn’t come out until he’s found a solution. Which he eventually did be extracting the liquid out of the fruit concentrate leaving only a powder. And that’s how the powder form of the drink was born. Perkins will later move to Chicago and sell his business to General Foods. But Nebraska still treats Kool-Aid as its biological child. It’s the official soft-drink of the state and every year they celebrate Kool-Aid Day.
9. Kool-Aid Survived the Depression
Having just found a way to solve all your shipping problems and changing the very essence of your product are crucial steps to making your business thrive. But what can you do when economic collapse brings the country to a standstill? Edwin Perkins was just beginning to enjoy the fruit of his labor and getting ready to move the center of operations from his mother’s kitchen to a much larger facility when Wall Street crashed. Everywhere businesses were closing, millions of people lost their jobs and economic doom hovered all over the globe. As dire as the financial prospects of his new product looked, Perkins wasn’t deterred. The shrewd businessman knew that people still needed their pitcher of fruit juice no matter how hard up things were. If for nothing, at least to keep a sense of normalcy in their otherwise chaotic lives. What started as a 10-cents sachet of fruit powder was later cut down to a nickel a piece. Now even in the Dust Bowl states, a nickel was nothing. So while other large corporations were shutting down branches and factories all over the country, Perkins’ Kool-Aid was going through a boom. People couldn’t get enough of the cheap fruity drink. And by the time the economy turned around the company emerged intact if not stronger.
8. Fighting in WWII
Surviving depression by cutting down prices and appealing to people’s need for a cheerful drink at the end of the day is one thing but when a global war comes knocking on your door, that’s a whole different ball game. And it’s not just out of patriotic fervor that you feel the need to contribute to the war effort. There are logistical factors at play here. Like, for example, the need to ration sugar on a national level. Sugar has always been at the heart of people’s lives and many businesses relied on the precious substance to keep running. That included Perkins and his Kool-Aid as well. Without sugar, you can’t produce as many sachets of your fruity drink. But there was also another problem. People just seemed to have lost interest with the drink which had helped them get through the Great Depression. Now that was a novel problem that required a different solution. And Perkins found a way out as he usually did. With the troops fighting on the front, they needed something fruity and sweet to keep their energy and morale up. Perkins stepped in to fill that need. Over the next 4 years, Perkins Products Co. shipped millions of boxes of lemon flavored fruity powder to the troops fighting on the other side of the world. Now those boxes didn’t carry the Kool-Aid brand on them but they contained the same powder that those same soldiers were raised to when they were growing up.
7. Kool-Aid To Wash Dishes
We mentioned that Kool-Aid had other purposes besides quenching your thirst. Over the years people have found creative ways to use Kool-Aid which the enterprising Perkins hadn’t even though of. As well all know he was just trying to find other ways to make it easier to ship his fruit juice when he stumbled upon the powder thing. What he didn’t realize was that by sending his colorful fruit mix as powder opened up so many possibilities for the bored customer. One of those is using it as a dishwasher cleaner. There will be more outlandish usages on this list but this one really takes the cake. Now, mind you, you can’t just dump any flavor in your dishwasher and hope it will do the trick. You have to use the lemon flavor. Apparently, the lemon content is strong in those sachets that it will dissolve any stain and leave your dishes sparkling. And there’s no magic involved. As we all know the best dishwasher cleaners are lemon-based. Lemon has the ability to break down fat and remove grease off surfaces. When you run out of dishwasher liquid and you don’t feel like going to the nearest store just to get a bottle, then you can empty a few sachets of Kool-Aid in a glass of water, mix them well then feed the juicy liquid to the dishwasher. It will work flawlessly. And the dishes will smell nice as well.
6. Kool-Aid Man Has Been Around for Ages
The pitcher has always been associated with Kool-Aid almost since its early beginnings. But once TV ads became a thing, Kool-Aid needed to redesign their unofficial mascot to make it more suitable for the new media. And that’s when the Kool-Aid Man was born. The very first ad to feature this vivacious pitcher involved it bursting through the walls of a bowling alley to help some thirsty kids. But this wasn’t the only stunt the pitcher did. Over the years it will recreate this same scenario. There are a bunch of children playing one sport or another and it’s hot and the players are thirsty. Then one of them will call for the Kool-Aid Man who jumps in to save the day. And it worked. The pitcher became a humanoid and worked tirelessly to save children from the dangers of thirst everywhere. It became as recognized a mascot as the McDonald’s clown. But that’s not the only way Kool-Aid made some advances at popular culture. Once video games became a thing and children stopped playing outdoors, Kool-Aid jumped on the wagon to create …
5. The Kool-Aid Man Video Game
Believe it or not, that was a thing at one time. Chances are your parent played the game when it first came out in 1983. That’s how popular Kool-Aid was during the second half of the 20th century. Keep in mind that video games were not as ubiquitous as they are today. So to have a game that involves our gallant pitcher trying to save a lake of juice from an attacking horde just is a good example of how big the mascot was on the cultural scene. The game was available for Atari 2600 which is the granddaddy of all game consoles. Yes, the concept was simplistic and the graphics were 8-bit and 2 dimensional, but the game was a hit. The way you played, you controlled the hero and tried to keep falling thirsty enemies from the top of the screen into the lake. If they reached the lake they’d drain it of its precious juice which of course was Kool-Aid. You win by keeping the lake full.
4. Kool-Aid as Hair Dye
And here’s another example of how to use Kool-Aid to give yourself the look you always wanted. This unusual way to use Kool-Aid has been around for some time and there are many recipes online. In its simplest form, you’d use Kool-Aid the same way you’d use any other hair dye product. Just remember that if you’re going to try this at home, the results are not always what you’d expect. Also, we wouldn’t recommend this as a substitute for other legitimate hair dyes. Now that we got this out of the way, let see how people use Kool-Aid to add snazzy highlights to their locks. Usually, you’d need two sachets of any color (flavor?) you like. Mix them well in two glasses of water and boil the mixture. If you want a bright and daring color you can use 3 packets in one glass of water. As long as you’re experimenting, the sky is the limit to how creative you can get. With the dye still hot drop the locks of your hair, you want to taint in the bowl. Make sure not to scald yourself. You’ll need to do the hair dunking a few times to make sure each individual hair has got its fill of the sugary color. When you feel your hair strands are saturated, remove your hair and let it dry.
3. The Kool-Aid Delicacy
The origins of this delicacy are not known. But for years the South has had its own way of enjoying Kool-Aid. They mix it with pickles to create a delicious snack called Koolickles. Maybe it had its roots in the Great Depression or maybe it just happened by chance. The thing is, though, Koolickles are easy to make. If you love both pickles and Kool-Aid then you can combine them to create something totally new and totally your own. All you need is a few packets of Kool-Aid, sugar, and a jar of dill pickles. If your pickles are whole in the jar you might need to slice them to make sure they get the Kool-Aid flavors. Having purple pickled cucumbers might surprise your guests but they’ll swear by the new exotic taste of this unusual pickle. As with every other use of Kool-Aid on this list that doesn’t involve drinking the juice, you need to use discretion as to how much you’d need to add. Adding too much will cover the natural flavors of the pickles and leave you with sweet morsels with a hint of brine. Adding two little and you won’t get anything much different than normal pickles.
2. The Deep Fried Variety
Knowing how humans have a propensity to drop anything they get their hands on into a pot full of boiling oil, we have to wonder how this latest culinary addition took so long. The year is 2011 and one chef decided that of all the uses of Kool-Aid nobody have thought of frying the multi-purpose powder yet. And the chef was going to remedy that oversight immediately. The base of the dish was thick batter with a generous helping of Kool-Aid to add color and flavor. Once the mixture touches the hot oil it reveals bright colors one wouldn’t usually associate with fried food. But how about the taste? Well, it tastes like a very weird looking donut. Sugary, yes. Fruity, no doubt. But it still tastes like fried dough. So while there were no major breakthroughs in the field of taste and flavor, the shape and textures were totally groundbreaking. But unlike Koolickles, this friend version of Kool-Aid didn’t catch up. Once the novelty wore off, the new dish simply faded away from memory. Which is a blessing to say the least. We already have enough varieties of fried food to make our hearts ache.
1. No More Kool-Aid Stains
For years people have struggled with Kool-Aid stains. Many rugs had to be thrown away or shifted around so that the embarrassing stains would hide under the furniture. Even the Kool-Aid hair dye recipes online keep warning you about the mess left behind once you’re done tinging your hair orange or purple. They recommend alcohol to remove the stubborn stains. But these are things of the past. Now that the company has come up with a magical recipe that doesn’t stain. It’s called Kool-Aid Invisible. And it simply leaves no traces or colors when mixed with water. Of course, that’s bad news for all the people who were relying on Kool-Aid as an affordable hair dye. So while rugs and carpets everywhere celebrate and all moms release a deep sigh of relief, the old powder with its adamant stains still has its own fans. Which just goes to show that not all progress is welcome and not all advances in science will be met with jubilation.