Facebook.com/KoolAid
Facebook.com/KoolAid

A Brief History of Kool-Aid

Facebook.com/KoolAid
Facebook.com/KoolAid

Though the fruity juice powder is now best known for the “Oh yeah!” of its Kool-Aid Man mascot, the recognizable anthropomorphic pitcher came along much later, after Kool-Aid was already a popular product.

Kool-Aid got its start in the 1920s as Fruit Smack, a liquid drink mix developed by Edwin Perkins of Hastings, Nebraska (which later went on to make Kool-Aid its state soft drink in 1998). Considering the competition Kool-Aid faces now with liquid drink mixes, it’s interesting that Fruit Smack was initially a liquid mix. The costs of packaging and risk of breaking bottles prompted Perkins to develop a way to remove the liquid, packaging it in personally-designed packages and renaming it Kool-Ade.

Eventually, the spelling was changed to Kool-Aid, and Perkins sold it as an affordable luxury for children at five cents per packet. The Smiling Face Pitcher was introduced in print ads in the 1950s, when Perkins sold Kool-Aid to General Foods. General Foods introduced lemonade and root beer to Kool-Aid’s standard six flavors, and in the mid-1970s, the Kool-Aid Man made his debut. 

The Kool-Aid Man hasn’t changed much through the years, as Milwaukee Mag's article shows. The cheerful pitcher of red drink bursting through walls with his signature “Oh yeah!” is widely recognizable, even featured in the Museum of Modern Art and appearing several times in Fox’s television series Family Guy.

However, the signature Kool-Aid Man has recently been given a makeover. While he does still prefer walking through walls, this new Kool-Aid Man is entirely computer-generated and presented as a “celebrity trying to show he’s just a normal guy.” Instead of crashing through a wall mid-commercial, he’s now shown stepping out of the shower as a clear pitcher and choosing his “pants” (Kool-Aid flavors) for the day as a voiceover makes him a relatable character.

While the Kool-Aid Man is advancing into the technological future of computer-generated images, the products themselves are shaking hands with the past: Kraft has introduced into the lineup of Kool-Aid products Bursts and Jammers, which are liquid drinks more like the Fruit Smack that Edwin Perkins first invented.

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College Board Wants to Erase Thousands of Years From AP World History, and Teachers Aren't Happy
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One would be forgiven for thinking that the Ides of March are upon us, because Julius Caesar is being taken out once again—this time from the Advanced Placement World History exam. The College Board in charge of the AP program is planning to remove the Roman leader, and every other historical figure who lived and died prior to 1450, from high school students’ tests, The New York Times reports.

The nonprofit board recently announced that it would revise the test, beginning in 2019, to make it more manageable for teachers and students alike. The current exam covers over 10,000 years of world history, and according to the board, “no other AP course requires such an expanse of content to be covered over a single school year.”

As an alternative, the board suggested that schools offer two separate year-long courses to cover the entirety of world history, including a Pre-AP World History and Geography class focusing on the Ancient Period (before 600 BCE) up through the Postclassical Period (ending around 1450). However, as Politico points out, a pre-course for which the College Board would charge a fee "isn’t likely to be picked up by cash-strapped public schools," and high school students wouldn't be as inclined to take the pre-AP course since there would be no exam or college credit for it.

Many teachers and historians are pushing back against the proposed changes and asking the board to leave the course untouched. Much of the controversy surrounds the 1450 start date and the fact that no pre-colonial history would be tested.

“They couldn’t have picked a more Eurocentric date,” Merry E. Wiesner-Hanks, who previously helped develop AP History exams and courses, told The New York Times. “If you start in 1450, the first thing you’ll talk about in terms of Africa is the slave trade. The first thing you’ll talk about in terms of the Americas is people dying from smallpox and other things. It’s not a start date that encourages looking at the agency and creativity of people outside Europe.”

A group of teachers who attended an AP open forum in Salt Lake City also protested the changes. One Michigan educator, Tyler George, told Politico, “Students need to understand that there was a beautiful, vast, and engaging world before Europeans ‘discovered’ it.”

The board is now reportedly reconsidering its decision and may push the start date of the course back some several hundred years. Their decision will be announced in July.

[h/t The New York Times]

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North America: East or West Coast?
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