Don't believe Bill O'Reilly; Kool-Aid is not bad.
I have been very disturbed by the recent, unfounded, press my childhood beverage of choice has been receiving from the Right. Earlier this week I was moved to action in response to a statement made to me by my 15 year old cousin. He said, "you know what state i hate even more. california. full of those crazy kool-aid drinking liberals." This statement by our youth made me raise an eyebrow.
I had heard other statements about Kool-Aid from online commentators, and read about people being accused of "drinking the Kool-Aid." The last straw for me came when another dear cousin of mine (who will remain nameless because of a recent loss of his sense of humor, possibly caused by Kool-Aid withdrawal) made the accusation against me of being a "Kool-Aid" drinker. While I have not drank Kool-Aid for years (nothing against the stuff, I do not drink soda either) I was the most hurt by this particular statement because, as a child, my cousin and I had enjoyed literally hundreds of gallons of the stuff together. In fact, this particular cousin drank so much of the stuff when we were growing up he sported a permanent Kool-Aid mustachio between the years of 1988 and 1992.
)To refresh your memory, A "Kool-Aide mustache," is the name given to the stain that appears on the upper lip of those who drink so much Kool-Aid it actually dyes their upper lip. Below is a picture for reference. Note: The HUGE smile on this kids face.)
So where did this back-lash against the delicious beverage of my childhood originate. At one point, drinking Kool-Aid was considered patriotic. I mean, check out this ad for the stuff from the 1950's.
While the whistling in the beginning is a bit creepy- these people all seem like good, wholesome, God fearing, Americans. So what happened? I decided to do some research, and this is what I found:
The backlash against Kool-Aid almost certainly came due to its perceived role in the 1978 cult suicide in Jonestown, Guyana. It was alleged that during this event members committed mass suicide through the ingestion of Kool-Aid.
Wow. So Kool-Aid can kill you? Then yeah, I would argue, don't "drink the Kool-Aid." A little further research though and I discovered it was not the Kool-Aid which had killed the members, but the potassium cyanide they had chosen to mix with it. As you can see in the below directions, from the back of a Slammin' Strawberry Kiwi pack of Kool-Aid, potassium cyanide is not even listed as part of the mixture:
Directions: Empty contents into large plastic or glass pitcher. Add 1 cup of sugar or 1 cup of SPLENDA No Calorie Sweetener, Granulated( more or less to taste). Add cold water and ice to make 2 quarts; stir to dissolve. Do not stir in metal container.
Slammin Strawberry Kiwi pack of Kool_Aid
Perhaps they misread "SPLENDA" as "potassium cyanide?"
During my research into the Jonestown suicides I found out something even more disturbing. Those people did not even drink Kool-Aid, they drank "Flavor Aid," a lesser known, and inferior form of the delicious beverage we know and love. The commercial above specifically warns people in lyric to "be sure that the envelope says Kool-Aid!" According to Wikipedia:
"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... (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.)"
So essentially, people started saying they killed themselves using Kool-Aid because it was more a more popular and easily recognizable brand than Flavor Aid. In the marketing world, this is known as "genericide." Other brands which have experienced it include: Kleenex, Xerox, and Coke- not bad company to be in.
Interestingly, many people (including my misinformed younger cousin) attribute "drinking the "Kool-Aid" to the cult suicide of the Heaven's Gate members in San Diego, California (hence the "Kool-Aid drinking Californian" statement.) Guess what- wrong again. In fact, this is directly from the Heaven's Gate Continues' (the remaining members) website:
"Some Web groups, through misinformation and ignorance to the Next Level, call us the "infamous kool aid cult resurfaced". Shows us how much they know. It was the Jim Jones "Peoples Temple" religion that was called "the kool aid cult". People of Heaven's Gate used specified drugs, alcohol and pudding/ applesauce to drop off their vehicles*- not cyanide laced kool aid. Please get your facts straight or don't get your facts at all."
*the term "vehicle" is what members of the cult call their earthly bodies
They used "pudding and applesauce!" So get off the Kool-Aid guy's back. Go pick on Bill Cosby or Johnny Appleseed and leave Mr. Kool alone! If anything, you could blame Nike- as all members had on the same Nike Sneakers. Heaven's Gate is the "Just Do it Cult." So take that, Ann Coulter!
In conclusion, I call upon all Americans to speak up against this unjustified hatred of the Kool-Aide beverage. The next time a Fox News, Bill O'Reilly fanatic accuses you of "drinking the Kool-Aide" do not hide your head in shame. Instead, take another sip of your Pink Simmango or Purplesauras Rex and proclaim, "Yes, I drink Kool-Aide, but are those Nike's you're wearing?!?"
I leave you with a pic of me and boys enjoying some Kickin' Kiwi Lime Kool-Aid on the town.