National Kool-Aid Day
the second Friday in August (since 1998)
Enjoy a refreshing glass of Kool-Aid today! National Kool-Aid Day coincides with the first day of Kool-Aid Days each year, which is always celebrated on the second weekend of August in Hastings, Nebraska, the city where Kool-Aid was created. Hastings' Kool-Aid Days began in 1998, the same year that Kool-Aid was named Nebraska's official state drink.
Edward Perkins lived in Hastings and spent his time experimenting with making products in his mother's kitchen and selling them by mail-order. He created the Perkins Products Company in 1920, and shortly thereafter created Fruit Smack, a liquid concentrate used to make a flavored drink by mixing it with sugar and water. The four-ounce bottles were expensive to ship and sometimes broke in transit. To reduce costs, Perkins made a powdered form in 1927, being inspired by Jello-O. It was sold in packets and was available in six flavors: cherry, grape, lemon-lime, orange, raspberry, and strawberry. The name was first changed to "Kool Ade," production was moved to Chicago in 1931, and Perkins trademarked the name Kool-Aid in 1934.
Kool-Aid packets originally sold for ten cents apiece, but the price was dropped to five cents during the Great Depression when the drink was marketed as "the Budget Beverage." The drink thrived during those years but was hurt by sugar rationing during World War II. Kool-Aid supplied some rations to troops overseas, though, and demand for the drink returned after the war. In 1953, Perkins sold Kool-Aid to General Foods.
Shortly after the General Foods acquisition, the prototype of the Kool-Aid Man arrived. Kool-Aid Man went on to appear in television and print advertising, and even in comics and a video game. In television ads, children were portrayed as becoming thirsty during some sort of physical activity; Kool-Aid Man would come to the rescue, bursting through the walls of their homes, exclaiming "Oh, yeah!" and making them Kool-Aid.
Kool-Aid is now owned by Kraft Foods. Besides being available in powdered form in packets or small tubs, Kool-Aid sells other products as well, such as Kool-Aid Bursts and Kool-Aid Jammers. People have even found other uses for Kool-Aid besides drinking it. It has been used to make playdough, and for cleaning toilets, dyeing hair, and coloring lips.
How to Observe
Celebrate the day by drinking some Kool-Aid! There are many more flavors than the original six that you could now try. You could also use Kool-Aid to make various foods, drinks, or other things. The best way to spend the day—or your whole weekend—is to head to Hastings, Nebraska, for Kool-Aid Days. You could even participate in their "Kwickest Kool-Aid Drinking Contest." While you are in the city, visit the Hastings Museum, where an exhibit on Kool-Aid can be viewed, and stop at the old Perkins Products Company building to see the spot where Kool-Aid was invented. If you aren't able to make the journey to Hastings, watch some old Kool-Aid commercials, and play Kool-Aid Man online, which originally debuted on Atari 2600 in 1983.