The Kool-Aid man got a new makeover this past year. In addition to a number of other reasons – the new icon will be computer-generated rather than filmed shots of an actor dressed in a foam costume, for example – there were reports that Kraft Foods wanted to have a new image that would help shed its association with the phrase, “Don’t drink the Kool-Aid.”
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 also has a collection of articles and reflections on “Kool-Aid” as an image and as an expression. Articles published this year which put the expression into its context during the last year include:
Go Easy on the Kool-Aid Expression
by Reg Henry, Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, June 28, 2013
This column analyzes the expression “drinking the Kool-Aid” as one of those “repetitive expressions of disgust that have become clichéd to the point of boredom,” adding that “Any column that is remotely political brings the inevitable Kool-Aid comment.”
Don’t Drink the Kool-aid:
Jonestown was an Atheist Marxist Socialist Cult
by J. Max Wilson, Sixteen Small Stones, January 17, 2013
This blog discusses how the phrase “Don’t drink the Kool-Aid” applies to other groups of people beyond those who died in Jonestown, including Nazis, Communists, and liberal Christian.
Please Pass the Kool-Aid
By Deane Waldman, December 24, 2012, The American Thinker
Putting the expression into context – and giving a short history of Peoples Temple along the way – the article goes on to claim that the politics of “liberals such as E.J. Dionne quoted in the Washington Post… are a combination of magical thinking and Kool-aid drinking.”
Stop Saying ‘Drink the Kool-Aid’
by Chris Higgins, The Atlantic, November 8, 2012,
http://www.theatlantic.com/health/archive/2012/11/stop-saying-drink-the-kool-aid/264957/ (The article was also posted on MentalFloss)
After a brief history of Peoples Temple and the deaths in Jonestown, the article suggests that the expression comes from a combination of three factors: Kool-Aid being better known than Flavor Aid; the previous use of Kool-Aid as a vehicle for consuming “um, unusual chemicals” in Tom Wolfe’s book, The Electric Kool-Aid Acid Test (see related article here); and the fact that Kool-Aid was actually present in Jonestown.