What We Can Learn from the Kool-Aid Culture

Kool-AidKool-Aid. A fruity sweet, thirst quenching, ambrosia for 6 year olds. We all remember it. It’s famous and served all over the world. Kool-Aid was invented in Hastings, Nebraska, as a liquid concentrate called Fruit Smack. In 1927, to save on shipping costs, it became the powder we all know and love. It was originally made in these flavors: Strawberry, Cherry, Grape, Lemon, Orange, Root-Beer and Raspberry.

In the early 1940’s a generation of kids grew up drinking Kool-Aid. In every following decade, as children were born to Kool-Aid drinkers, they became Kool-Aid drinkers. It was their drink of choice. Forget about those fancy sodas and milk, kids wanted Kool-Aid and their mothers’ were only too happy to make it for them. After all, it was cheap and tasted good. Whole neighborhoods walked around with happy, bright red or purple, Kool-Aid mustaches.

As time went by, hundreds of new kinds of drinks became available; all kinds of Cola, flavored waters, fizzy waters, cold coffee, gourmet soda, energy drinks, the list goes on and on. Kool-Aid drinkers just kept drinking Kool-Aid. Oh, I’m sure they tried the other drinks, but they kept coming back to their old favorite. Why? Because it tasted good and was cheap.

Kool-Aid drinkers gradually became the Kool-Aid culture

They have learned to hang on to what is good and cheap. After all, those two words are seldom seen together in today’s market place. From billionaires to the dirt poor, from octogenarians to wee infants sucking on a bottle, people from all walks of life enjoy Kool-Aid.

Kool-Aid is versatile

You can drink it, you can use it for dye, you can bake with it, you can mix it, you can even make things out of the packages if you’re crafty.

For some, drinking Kool-Aid is like a warm fuzzy

It brings back memories of hot summer days and sweaty nights. Grandma would stir up a fresh pitcher and you could hear the clink of ice cubes from across the yard. That first cold swallow was the best. Many families continue those traditions today. Adults sit around the kitchen table sipping and swapping stories. Kids run around outside clutching their plastic cups.

Kool-Aid is synonymous with family gatherings and good times

Some folks can’t have a barbeque without it. There’s even alcoholic drinks made with Kool-Aid.

Some folks turn their nose up at the idea of drinking Kool-Aid

They think it’s a cheap substitute for soda. Maybe it is. And what’s wrong with that?

Kool-Aid embodies a culture that believes in indulging in the good at a minimal cost

This culture doesn’t need the affirmation of its peers. It doesn’t need to keep up with the Jones next door. It’s secure in knowing what it likes and how to get it. The Kool-Aid culture understands doing without and being happy with the little joys in life.

The Kool-Aid culture is, and will always be, made up of people who enjoy the sweet and simple, but they just don’t know it. They cut coupons to save a few cents. They recycle and worry about the cost of living, but don’t loose any sleep over it. They value family and friends over affluent clubs and fancy cars. They respect the elderly and coddle their young. And they do it all with a fat, smiling, pitcher of their preferred flavor in the fridge.

Image courtesy of Roadsidepictures

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5 Responses to What We Can Learn from the Kool-Aid Culture

  1. Lori says:

    I admit to being in a group that didn’t drink Kool-Aid growing up. I’m not sure if we looked down on it or simply never thought to try it. However, if you substituted “Kool-Aid” with “Jello”, and “drink” with “dessert”, I could very well relate!

  2. Joan says:

    Still have stock in the company, do ya? Don’t you have some Jim Jones Kool-Aid quips? Nobody drinks Kool-Aid.

  3. M.Beddingfield says:

    Hey Joan, In my area of the woods, lots of folks drink Kool-Aid. I only wish I had stock in the company!

  4. nanamom says:

    i rememeber when koolaid was a treat earned by those who had drunk all their milk! i remember when my kids were little saving the envelopes for prizes for them. They had cups with smiley faces, and I think even koolaid backpacks for Christmas one frugal year.

  5. Nikki says:

    I am one of the kool-aid generation and I still drink it at 61. I always have a few packets stuck in the cupboard when I need a kool-aid fix.

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