Drinking the Kool-Aid: An Introduction

The expression “drinking the Kool-Aid” is now deeply embedded into American slang. While its origins are painfully understood by most of the people who visit this site, it’s also true that no one knows when or in what context it first entered our slang lexicon. As time passes, two other characteristics of slang will occur: its earliest meaning will morph into a multitude of derivatives – indeed, that has already begun to happen – and fewer and fewer people who use it will know where it came from.

This website has a collection of articles and reflections on “Kool-Aid” as an image and as an expression, but the purpose of this column is to show how and where the expression in used, especially in American business (which is believed to have coined the term), in politics, and in sports.

The Physics of PassionPerhaps the best description of how the expression plays in American society which we found within the past year comes from a somewhat sardonic blogsite of Creating Passionate Users.   In a piece entitled The Physics of Passion: The Koolaid Point, the blogger known as Kathy writes:

You don’t really have passionate users until someone starts accusing them of “drinking the koolaid.” You might have happy users, even loyal users, but it’s the truly passionate that piss off others enough to motivate them to say something. Where there is passion, there is always anti-passion… or rather passion in the hate dimension.

If you create passionate users, you have to expect passionate detractors. You should welcome their appearance in blogs, forums, and user groups. It means you’ve arrived. Forget the tipping point – if you want to measure passion, look for the koolaid point.

Some illustrations of other uses of “drinking the Kool-Aid” which have appeared in American newspapers and publications, organizational and media websites, and established blogs within the last year appears here.

Originally posted on July 25th, 2013.

Last modified on May 20th, 2020.
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