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Friday, August 08, 2014

Kool-Aid (a.k.a. My Quest for Purplesaurus Rex)

This is going to be a fun FOODIE FRIDAY post, because it is all about one of my favourite childhood drinks.

And, no...it's not milk, water, chocolate milk, or Kahlua that I was convinced was European chocolate milk by my older sister.  Thanks, by the way.

No, this story deals with a particular drink that you had to mix up in order to truly enjoy it.  And, as always, I have a personal story to share with you about this drink.

And in order to tell this story, as much as I hate to do it, I'm going to have to channel Sophia Petrillo from "The Golden Girls" to get the ball rolling.

Picture it.  Ontario, Canada.  1990.  I can't remember which supermarket I happened to be in at the time, but something tells me that it was a supermarket that used to be known as O.K. Economy.  It has since been torn down, and in its place is a restaurant, pay day loan place, and video store, but back in the day, it was the premiere place to do all of your grocery shopping. 

I like to describe O.K. Economy as kind of like one of those budget, no frills type stores.  There was no florist, no clothing items, and no fresh salad counter.  It was basically a small meat counter, a small bakery, and all your food basics.  Even though it's been over twenty years since it closed up, I can still remember that store's layout.  The cereals and dry pasta were in the middle.  Frozen food was towards the back.  Dairy was along the side wall.  And, all the cash registers were lined up along the front of the store.

(Actually, as a kid, the cash registers were my favourite place in that whole store.  It was the place where the candy bars, Archie Digests, and Panini Sticker Books and Stickers were sold.  And if I was lucky, I could choose from one of the three choices to take home with me.  Usually, it was the comic book.)

But another thing I remember about O.K. Economy was that the drink section was exactly one aisle away from the cash register area.  And when I say drinks, I mean every possible beverage that you could think of. 

Sure, 1990 sort of pre-dated the period in which an entire aisle was devoted to bottled water.  But there were still plenty of choices to choose from.  There was the standard Coke and Pepsi, juice boxes, Crystal Light mixes, Gatorade (back in the early '90s, we only had orange and lime to pick from), and of course, those fruit juices in those plastic containers that kids would take with them for school lunches.  You know the ones I mean?  The ones that tasted like fruit but had like enough sugar in them to put someone in a diabetic coma?  Ah, those were the days.

But it was in this drink section that I discovered a brand new tasty treat that looked really good.  And the good news is that since a package of this drink mix was only like twenty cents a packet, it was pretty easy to convince my parents to pick up a couple of them.



The drink mix?  A then-new flavour of Kool-Aid called "Purplesaurus Rex". 

And, I have to tell you...it remains one of my all-time favourite flavours of Kool-Aid.  It was similar to grape flavoured Kool-Aid, only it was mixed with lemonade to make a grape flavoured lemonade beverage.  And I won't lie to you...Purplesaurus Rex was my drink of choice during the summer of 1990.

I'm still annoyed that the flavour was discontinued some two, three years later.  I hear that in some stores in the United States, Purplesaurus Rex is making a comeback.  Please let me know if this is true.  And, while we're on the subject...if I give anyone the money, can you buy me some?  I really want my Purplesaurus Rex Kool-Aid fix.

And, yes, I am 33, and no I am not kidding.  Any time I can have a small slice of my childhood back, I'm all for it.

Okay, so as of right now, Purplesaurus Rex Kool-Aid is off the table.  But, there have been other flavours of Kool-Aid that I also enjoy, and that are still available even today.  Whether you enjoy it through Kool-Aid jammers, add it to bottled water using the small bottles of concentrated liquid, or still make it the old-fashioned way using a little sugar and those powdered packets, Kool-Aid is here to stay.

So, I'll make a list of my top 5 flavours, as well as three flavours that I cannot stand.

So, my list.



1 - CHERRY

This one will always be my definite go-to brand.  It also happens to be the flavour of Kool-Aid that you can mostly find inside of Kool-Aid Man's pitcher.  You know, those commercials where he smashes through your wall, shouts "Oh, yeah", and gives you Kool-Aid while your parents are forced to use their savings to repair the damage done to their living room?  It's certainly one of the most popular flavours of Kool-Aid, and if you ever had one of those Snoopy Sno-Cone Machines (I'm still looking for one of those, by the way), it always came with cherry flavoured Kool-Aid.  So, I think that the reason why cherry ranks so high on my list is because of Snoopy. 



2 - LEMON LIME

This is becoming increasingly harder and harder to find, which is a shame, because lemon lime Kool-Aid is absolutely awesome.  I first started drinking green Kool-Aid when I was a little kid, and if I remember correctly, I wanted to drink it during the same time I discovered the television show "You Can't Do That On Television".  The reason?  It kind of made me feel as though I was drinking the green slime that they dumped on the kids on that show.  Sure, the shades of green were different...but you can't match that flavour. 



3 - GRAPE

Well, given that grape is a key flavour used in Purplesaurus Rex, it's only natural that I would list this flavour as one of my favourites.  And one thing I used to love about grape Kool-Aid was its extremely dark colour.  It was one of the few flavours of Kool-Aid that could turn your tongue as purple as Grimace's on those McDonald's commercials!




4 - TROPICAL PUNCH

This is one of those flavours that kind of divides people.  Some absolutely love it, while others despise it.  One kid I remember used to hate this flavour because they claimed it tasted exactly like that yucky fluoride rinse that we had to take once a month in elementary school.  I on the other hand don't share this opinion.  As someone who loves all sorts of fruit punch style drinks, I admit that I enjoy Tropical Punch Kool-Aid.  And, if you don't believe me...try freezing it in an ice cube tray and making mini popsicles.  Tropical Punch Kool-Aid always tastes better when it's frozen.



5 - ORANGE

It's not a flavour I don't like.  I can drink orange Kool-Aid just fine.  But it's certainly not my all-time favourite.

And now, the three flavours I can't stand.



1 - STRAWBERRY

Considering that I'm allergic to real strawberries and can't stand artificial or simulated strawberry flavour, I always avoided this flavour like the plague.  Absolutely disgusting.



2 - PINK SWIMMINGO

Okay, whoever came up with the bright idea to mix cherry and watermelon flavours together in a Kool-Aid packet needed to get their heads examined.  I know that some people really loved this flavour combo, but not me.  This one made me sick to my stomach the first time I tried it.



3 - INCREDIBERRY

This one was short lived, like Purplesaurus Rex and Pink Swimmingo.  And well...one thing that this flavour had going for it was its ability to change colour.  The powder was yellow, but once you added water to it, it magically became red!  Too bad this flavour contained strawberry as well.  If it was cherry and raspberry instead of strawberry and raspberry, this flavour might have easily replaced orange in my like list.

So, what flavours of Kool-Aid were your top choices?  And which ones did you not like?  And where oh where can I find Purplesaurus Rex Kool-Aid again?

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