Few things in life represent summer to me as much as Kool-Aid. I grew up guzzling the multi-colored beverages to the point where my face had a permanently stained Kool-Aid mustache that made me look like Jack Nicholson’s Joker. Days would pass where Kool-Aid was the only liquid I consumed. Who could blame me? Kid’s loved the stuff. In addition to the main stay flavors like the classic Cherry, Grape, and Orange the 90’s introduced so many awesome variations like Purplesaurus Rex, Rock-A-Dile Red, and Great Bluedini! OH yeah! If the ambrosia itself weren’t enough, you could actually get free stuff just by gulping it! Unlike various other mail away promotions however you didn’t simply cut out UPC codes and stuff them in an envelope. No, Kool-Aid’s special currency came in the form of the iconic Kool-Aid Points.
Kool-Aid points came in various denominations but were always found on the bottom rear of the packaging. Although their appearance did change the basic principles remained the same. A point value was noted around the border with a drawing of the Kool-Aid man decorating the center. Some were worth 2 points, some more than 40 points, and some of the Kool-Aid points were fancy with a large portrait of just the Kool-Aid man’s face in the center rather than his entire bulbous body.
I vividly remember being excited to cut out the Kool-Aid points on the back of the packet and stuff them into a special envelope we kept on our kitchen counter near the microwave. As the weeks wore on my mom would take them out and tally the total with me to see how close we were to the ultimate goal. Just like your local Chuck-E-Cheese there was a variety of lesser items you could redeem your points on, but we burned through so much of the beverage that for my first Kool-Aid prize my mother set sights on the biggest of all promos: the Kool-Aid pitcher and cup set. Iconic in it’s design this was a plastic pitcher that was emblazoned with the world famous Kool-Aid man smirk. In addition to the pitcher you would receive four cups that looked like smaller versions of the centerpiece carafe. Drinking Kool-Aid in itself was always a treat but somehow it was more fun to slurp it from these petroleum based vessels.
Although the pitcher set was the crowning achievement of our Kool-Aid point collecting there were a few smaller prizes I claimed over the years ranging from sound amplifiers intended for spying, small rubber figurines, watches, and wrist pouches. None of those items were near as memorable as the drinking set however. Unfortunately in 2008, Kool-Aid points were discontinued and as of 2010 the company no longer allows their redemption. I genuinely feel bad for the next generation of children that will never experience the feeling of accomplishment that redeeming these points gave to a youth.