Phrembah (a potato-like mystery) (phrembah) wrote,
Phrembah (a potato-like mystery)

You know, Kool-Aid got a bad rap . . .

. . . on that deal in Jonestown in 1978 when a bunch of religious nut-jobs force fed their kids grape punch laced with cyanide then chugged it themselves.  Because the punch was that powdered mix stuff that you get in a can or a packet and mix with water and sugar, everybody called it Kool-Aid and "drinking the kool-aid" became a universal expression denoting an idiotic level of commitment and unquestioning obedience to some kind of program or belief.  Only problem was it wasn't Kool-Aid in Jonestown.  It was Flavor-Aid, a competing powdered drink mix.  But since Kool-Aid was by far the dominant brand of powdered punch mix, it had become so ubiquitous and genericized that everyone called powdered drink mix "Kool-Aid" no matter what it actually said on the package.  Just like "coke" has become the universal term for not only all cola drinks, but for all soft drinks in general.  This sort of market penetration and brand saturation is generally considered a good thing and a sign of great success.  Right up until it isn't.  Right up until something like the Jonestown massacre links some of the most evil shit ever with your brand name, precisely because of your market dominance and not because your product was even present.

This little sliver of cultural detritus has been lodged in my craw since I heard about it in a documentary on the whole Jim Jones phenomena.  So imagine my wonderment when I heard someone on an episode of TTBOOK (To the Best of Our Knowledge) say, ". . . but I didn't buy the bridge in Brooklyn; I didn't drink the Flavor-Aid . . . ," explaining how she had not been taken in by whatever scam she was talking about.  My recollection is paraphrased and I can't remember the whole context, but she did say "Flavor-Aid."  Neither she nor the interviewer made any further comment about it.  "Wow," I thought to myself, "someone else out there knows it wasn't really Kool-Aid."  Unfortunately for the makers of Kool-Aid, it still sounds way snarkier to say "drink the kool-aid" than "drink the Flavor-Aid."  A lot of people don't know what Flavor-Aid is and the idiom loses its punch (pun intentionally left lying on the stairs where anyone might trip over it) if the listener has to ask what it means.  My mom actually bought Flavor-Aid in the '50s and '60s and most of the store brands, too.  Whatever was cheap that week, which I'm sure was what all of the "moms" in Jonestown were doing.

So, anyway . . .
Tags: compelling chronicle, profundity extraordinaire

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