For many Americans the word “Kool-aid” brings to mind pleasant memories of long, hot summer days and fun backyard barbecues. A pitcher, a packet, and some sugar yields a satisfying beverage treat for a whole patio full of people. The drink mix originated during the Depression years of the 1930s and today’s consumers have rediscovered it for its value and its benefits to the ecology and general health.
Kool-aid is an Economical Soft Drink choice
The packets of Kool-aid come in a wide array of flavors and generally sell three for a dollar. Each packet yields two quarts of beverage. In contrast, a two-liter bottle of store brand soda checks in at well above a dollar, with an added return value in many states. The cost of sugar to sweeten Kool-aid adds a nickel to the price per envelope cost.
Find interesting facts about Kool-aid history and its inventor Edwin Perkins in the Hastings Museum.
Beyond the obvious costs at the checkout register, there is the cost of refrigeration for soda bottles. True, they can be stored warm in a cabinet and then served in glasses with ice cubes, but they still take up much more space than the small, thin packets.
The True Costs of Plastic bottled and Aluminum Canned Beverages
The production of a bottled or canned soft drink is a resource-intensive process. Energy and raw materials are needed for the PET plastic used for the bottles and the aluminum for the cans. These mountains of beverage pallets must be warehoused and then loaded onto gasoline guzzling trucks for retail delivery. For the plastic bottles the oil needed to produce them packs a double whammy.
A single plastic bottle or aluminum can added to the waste stream may not seem like such a burden but over the past few decades, billions and billions of them have brought dire consequences. They clog landfills and contribute to a massive garbage patch in the middle of the Pacific Ocean (Good Morning America featured the Pacific Ocean Garbage Patch in a recent video feature).
Healthwise, Kool-aid Makes Sense
Beyond hydration, the typical can/bottle of soda or sport drink offers virtually no health benefits. Many contain forty-two grams of sugar in a twelve ounce serving. This is equal to fourteen packets of restaurant style sugar. And no, the sugar in sodas and other drinks does not come from a cane. Since the late 1970s beverages have been sweetened with a compound known as high-fructose corn syrup, or HFCS. This chemical derives from processed and distilled corn husks, and as study after study has shown, plays havoc with glucose levels and metabolic rates.
With Kool-aid, the consumer can control both the type and the amount of sweetener. The package directions call for one cup of sugar to yield two quarts of beverage but of course this can be lessened. Even the lowest-priced, bargain aisle package of white cane sugar is better than HFCS, but raw cane sugar offers an even more natural sweetener. Finally, Kool-aid as produced does provide the ten percent recommended daily allowance of Vitamin C. Clever consumers have even added other vitamins to their preparations.
Kool-aid: Now more than Ever
Edwin Perkins originally named his creation “Fruit Smack” and shipped the product in small glass bottles.
Problems with breakage led him to dehydrate the mixture and ship it in the packet form which has lasted for seventy-five years. Kool-aid makes fun beverage consumption a process of reuse and renewal since washable pitchers and glasses are used. As green consciousness and health concerns escalate, Mr. Perkins’ relatives have seen his humble product enjoy a renaissance.