Was It Kool-Aid?

The brand-name product “Kool Aid” was not used on November 18, 1978. Nevertheless, it will be forever connected with the Jonestown tragedy and is the source of the now-commonly used expression, “Drink the Kool-Aid.”

Instead, the lethal combination of the poison potassium cyanide and several sedatives – including Valium and chloral hydrate – which was used in Jonestown’s mass murder/suicide was mixed with the fruit drink Flavor Aid. The powder, which is mixed with water to create the drink, has been described as the British version of Kool-Aid.

It should be noted that the Jonestown pantry did include packets of Kool-Aid, which appear in several videos from Jonestown’s early years as Jim Jones promoted “our stores of goods” at the Jonestown project to his followers still in the States. But after the mass influx of residents raised Jonestown’s population to 1000, the fruit-flavored drink that was more available – and less expensive – was the British brand, reflecting Guyana’s history as a British colony.

Numerous articles on this website consider the phrase “Drinking the Kool-Aid” – both its place in American culture and its effects upon the survivors of Jonestown – appear here.