HEY KOOL-AID! The cry of thirsty children in television commercials everywhere, quickly followed by a loud explosion and a throaty "Oh Yeeaah" as a man in a garish costume smashes through a cardboard or styrofoam wall, which somehow is meant to impart a sense of relief from thirst. Television is a confusing medium. Comic books, however, are perfectly straightforward, and that's why Kool-Aid, a trademark of the General Foods Corporation, spent years developing the sales potential of selling Kool-Aid through comics.
The mid 1970s would see their first attempt, given away free with any 5 envelopes of Kool-Aid or one 10-quart "Handycan", rendered in a fakey cartoony style six steps removed from its puffy Peter Max roots and filled with tired vaudeville jokes that were tired even when vaudeville was a thing.
One longs for the hoots of the angry crowd, the hurled tomato, the giant hook looming offstage to remove these unfunny hacks. What one does NOT long for is Kool-Aid. Maybe if you were in the rafters and you could pour it on these guys, maybe.
What's one thing kids love? A page full of moth jokes! Moth jokes their parents will have to explain! That's one way to make Mom and Dad want to buy... Flavor-Aid, or Wyler's, or anything but Kool-Aid.
Here we see our baggy-pants comedy team, having wrested the Holy Pitcher from the hand of Kool-Aid Man, sauntering across the stage as if they haven't just committed the most heinous act of blasphemy ever witnessed in the powdered drink mix world. You don't tug on Superman's cape, you don't spit into the wind, you don't take the mask from the old Lone Ranger, and you don't take the pitcher out of Kool-Aid Man's hand!
Thankfully for all involved, Kool-Aid and its corporate parents at General Foods saw the error of their ways and instead commissioned some professionals - namely Marvel Comics and star Archie artist Dan DeCarlo - to whip up a pitcher full of vastly superior Kool-Aid Man comics.
Oh Yeaahh! Here we see Kool-Aid Man in all his confusing, liquid-filled glory, doing what he does best. Will he challenge the vacuum of space in this issue? Will space helmets and Sears Toughskins be enough to protect children from explosive decompression? Let's find out!
Man, it's only page one and already the Thirsties have ruined the fun of the Smalltown Sluggers little league softball team (is that a thing?) and then Kool-Aid Man ruins THEIR fun by smashing in and taking care of the Thirsties. He also ruined the roof of Sam's Snax, but whatever.
He then takes the kids on a tour of his giant headquarters, which houses all of his amazing inventions. Kool-Aid Man is like Santa Claus, he's always watching! Except he's not looking for naughty kids, he's looking for thirsty kids! Sometimes the thirsty kids are also naughty, and that's when Santa comes into the picture, Santa and Kool-Aid Man, they have some sort of intelligence-sharing pact.
Also just want to point out that this enormous five-story building shaped like a giant pitcher of Kool-Aid is, according to the captions, "Kool-Aid Man's Secret Headquarters". Way to keep a low profile there, Kool-Aid Man.
AROOGA AROOGA AROOGA somewhere in America, or maybe Canada, somewhere among the millions and millions of children engaged in vigorous play, a small gathering is experiencing thirst! This is a job for that garden hose alongside Mister Johnson's house, or maybe the parents should get involved here at some point! But it's hard to sell a powdered mix of 'parental involvement'. Kool-Aid Man it is!
I usually disapprove of Kool-Aid Man's wanton destruction in the name of thirst relief, but that beach sign is totally bogus. NO FRISBEES??!
Kool-Aid Man is also a big fan of the works of songwriter Carole King.
But enough pop culture references, let's get back to that hot thirsty softball action!
You know, at first Hat guy here didn't want to come to this softball game. Can you believe it? This is the most exciting boob - I mean game - he's ever racked! I mean seen. Seen!
As the Thirsties do their thirsty work making everybody thirsty, the bad umpiring of the Worst Umpire Ever causes an argument between Tween Chuck Clayton and Tween Betty Cooper, here on loan from Archie Comics.
The heat and thirst and discomfort and lack of soda machines or snack bars or coolers full of Budweiser all combine to create a hot, dusty vortex of misery down there on the playing field, until somebody remembers that giant sentient pitcher they took a helicopter ride with earlier that day.
Crash! Now we can't keep score any more! But who cares, at least we won't be thirsty.
Enough softball! This comic promised us outer space and it had better deliver.
Did you ever have one of those days when everything was going great, and then a giant thirst monster appeared? These kids did!
Well, if your day is being ruined by a giant thirst monster - or you just want to wreck the fun house, let's face it, the fun house sucks - then holler HEY KOOL-AID MAN HELP and before you know it, he's there.
Getting some snappy repartee out of these two zany comic characters, I see. Can we get those baggy-pants vaudevilleans back?
Kool-Aid Man isn't running away, he's merely getting into his new Cool Copter, which is specially designed to be flown with just one pudgy red hand at the controls. The other hand is always holding the pitcher. Always.
Two observations. One, how can a hologram make somebody thirsty? And two, Kool-Aid Man only has one unoccupied hand, which is now holding this giant mirror, which means nobody's flying his Cool Copter, which means we'll soon be seeing a Cool Crash.
Whew! Somehow Kool-Aid Man avoided disaster and is now safely buckled back into his Cool Copter seat, safely holding his pitcher of Kool-Aid. He's noticed that those hot, dry, thirsty-making rays seem to be coming from outer space. Tune in next week when Kool-Aid Man attempts to destroy the Sun.
No, just kidding, he's going to destroy the Thirsties' giant armored space fortress. Even three layers of double-forged tungsten-beryllium and five zones of defensive ray-screens fail to stop the rampaging Kool-Aid Man! Also you cannot destroy Kool-Aid Man with a "thirst ray". Everybody knows that.
EDITOR'S NOTE: Please end this comic story one panel short to allow for incongruous insertion of the current Kool-Aid tagline
Hey moms! Carefully groom your perfect, perfect children and pose them stiffly in their Kool-Aid(tm) shirts at their very own Kool-Aid(tm) Drink Stand and you'll get a free t-shirt, which you... obviously already have. Maybe this is the triumphant, celebratory Kool-Aid(tm) Drink Stand to commemorate the amazing free t-shirts they recieved the previous two times they constructed their Kool-Aid(tm) Drink Stand for their free t-shirt photo op - they had to do it twice because God help you if Timmy gets something that Sally doesn't get, or vice versa, it's a friggin' nightmare, somebody take these children please. I need a drink.
And if you didn't get the whiff of Free Enterprise wafting around the place, what with all these exhortations for children to set up their own front yard Kool-Aid(tm) Drink Stands, here's a movie all about kids doing it for themselves and starting their own business and finding out how Big Government exists only to shut down initiative and destroy the kind of go-getting capitalist spirit that made our country great! It's all happening in "Kidco", the big motion picture hit of 1984, which, contrary to what this ad would have you believe, did not actually involve Kool-Aid. I guess it's hard to direct movies when one hand is always holding a pitcher.
When you're done playing softball or rocketing into space or selling Kool-Aid from your Kool-Aid(tm) Drink Stand or seeing "Kidco" in your local theater or drive-in, why not relax with the Kool-Aid Video Game for Atari 2600 and Mattel Intellivision?
Because that video game is really, really terrible, that's why. Seriously, even for 2600 games, which have a tremendously low bar for playability and coherence, it stands out as lousy.
Stick with what you know, General Foods. That's powdered drink mix. Oh Yeaahh!
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