This year marks the 75th anniversary of Kool-Aid. The Hastings Museum of Natural and Cultural History in Hastings, Nebraska opened Kool-Aid: Discover the Dream, an interactive exhibit that has murals and replicas, a computer generated river of Kool-Aid, and even the original Kool-Aid man costume. The exhibit will explain the creation of Kool-Aid by creator Edwin Perkins to the present day as an international icon and beloved child memory.
The most recognizable feature from Kool-Aid is the pitcher. For more than four decades, the friendly, smiling Kool-Aid pitcher has given young children a reason to quench their thirst with tons of fun. With its simple, yet extremely smiling face, the frosted pitcher is one of Kool-Aid’s most important features.
The pitcher’s original concept came from a young boy in 1957. Marvin Potts, the art director for an advertising agency, was hired to illustrate this message: “A five cent package makes two quarts” for Kool-Aid. After watching his son trace patterns on a frosty windowpane, the friendly face of the Kool-Aid pitcher was born. Potts’ illustration was complete.
The image was designed to show the beverage’s great value, and the marketing team at Kool-Aid liked the frosty pitcher idea so much that three pitcher ads were created for the summer of 1954, each with a different message on the pitcher.
In 1964, when Kool-Aid packages were redesigned to show the smiling pitcher, the company produced thousands of plastic pitchers as a promotion. The pitchers had rounded bottoms, a unique spout and 68 ounce capacity. They were so popular that this model became what is now known as the official Kool-Aid pitcher.
As trivial as it may seem, a lot of thought went into the location of the pitcher’s handle. It was decided to place the handle on the right side so that right-handed people, who represent 90 percent of the population, would be able to see the smile while pouring the soft drink.
Students around campus had different ways they used Kool-Aid other than a soft drink. Senior, Nicole McCraig said, “Tropical fruit punch is the best mixer.” Sophomore Jenn Keller said, “When I used to run in sixth grade we ate Kool–Aid powder to get bursts of energy before our meets.”
Margaret Haas, senior, had a different name for KOOL-AID as a kid. She said, “My dad who is a Vietnam Veteran said they called fruit punch ‘bug juice’ when they were in the war, so I grew up calling Kool-Aid bug juice.”
When asked what her favorite Kool-Aid flavor was, senior Adrienne Ross said, “I’m a cherry Kool-Aid kind of girl.”