Age is an issue of mind over matter. If you don't mind, it doesn't matter.

~ Satchel Paige ~

Fired Up With Koolaid Passion

July 30th, 2012 ~ Est. reading time: 1 min, 57 secs

Getting fired up by koolaid can be dangerous.

The title “Fired Koolaid Passion” could just as well be “Much Ado About Nothing.” Apparently, in late May, two men in the suburb of Brightmoor in Detroit, Michigan, got into a rather heated exchange about which of them made the best “koolaid” (for those unfamiliar, Kool-Aid is a brand of cordial or concentrated fruit-flavoured drink that’s popular in America). Eyewitnesses said the men became irate, drew firearms, and started shooting at each other. As it happened, neither were hit. However, two innocent bystanders weren’t so lucky as both sustained gunshot wounds resulting from the shootout.

While police described the event as an utterly ridiculous episode, they declared they’ve had more that were even worse. So these two pathetic men not only made themselves a laughing stock, they also hurt two harmless people as a result. I doubt this fired koolaid up as a brand or boosted its sales. But to be fair, Kraft, the makers of the beverage, couldn’t foresee just how irresponsible these consumers could be.

Ironically, this is not the first time Kool-Aid has been connected with tragedy. The cult leader, Jim Jones, impassioned his followers in 1978 to “drink the Kool-Aid” (though it might have been a generic brand) from a vat containing a cocktail of valium and lethal cynanide.  This bizarre mass suicide of 909 members of the “People’s Temple” cult became known as the Jonestown Massacre. This connection has fired koolaid’s image up with biting symbolism. Saying “drink the Kool-Aid” has become synonymous in America and Canada with blind and potentially misguided obedience.

All of this is hardly what the maker, Edwin Perkins, could possibly have envisaged when he produced the prototype version of the product in Nebraska (USA), back in the 1920s. Calling it Fruit Smack back then, the name would certainly have collected some unwholesome connotations had it remained. But Mr Perkins later renamed the drink, Kool-Aid in 1927, so the rest is history. How did it become so popular? Well, from a distance it’s hard to say. But Nebraska surely must have fired koolaid’s fortunes when it declared Kool-Aid the official soft drink of the state.  Thereafter, General Foods acquired Kool-Aid in 1953, before they themselves were taken over in 1985, by the tobacco giant, Phillip Morris. Today, Kool-Aid is badged under the Kraft label, which Phillip Morris also owns

So though it may only be a humble sweetened soft drink, this beverage has had a colourful history with a few alarming associations. Next time you make yourself some, or else a similar drink, be thankful it’s not Fruit Smack, you don’t have a  leader called Jim Jones, and nobody has fired koolaid rage motivated gunshots at you. But just to be on the safe side, why not pour yourself a refreshing glass of nice cold water instead? Ahhh!





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