Hastings, Nebraska

The Hastings Museum Kool-Aid Exhibit

The home for all things Kool-Aid offers everything except a chance to actually enjoy the drink.  

Hastings, Nebraska is where Edwin Perkins invented Kool-Aid. To honor his delicious invention, the local museum has dedicated half of a floor to the drink’s history. Kool-Aid: Discover the Dream is a nostalgic and comprehensive collection of all things Kool-Aid. The only thing missing is a chance to actually imbibe the drink itself.

Kool-Aid’s precursor was Fruit Smack, a flavored syrup. Perkins, tired of how easily the glass bottles containing the syrup leaked and broke, decided to ditch the watery aspect of the sweet mixture and instead create packets of powder. He was inspired by Jell-O. Perkins debuted the drink, which was originally called Fruit-Ade, in 1927.

The Kool-Aid exhibit at the Hastings Museum of of Natural and Cultural History is full of information about the drink’s beginnings and various marketing strategies. It includes old packaging and advertisements, as well as discontinued Kool-Aid related products like bubble gum and sherbet packets. Visitors follow a fiber optic ‘river’ of the drink that flows throughout the museum’s lower level. People can even catch a glimpse of the original Kool-Aid Man suit, though they shouldn’t expect it to burst through any walls.

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