The CGI version of the Kool-Aid Man, as he appears as of 2008 with clothes
|First appearance||1954 (prototype version)|
1974 (official version)
|Created by||Marvin Potts|
|Voiced by||Richard Berg (1974–1990s)|
Frank Simms (2000–2016)
Pat Duke (2009)
Brock Powell (2016–present)
Captain Kool-Aid (in Canada)
|Title||Mascot of Kool-Aid|
|Occupation||Busting through Walls|
The Kool-Aid Man is the primary mascot for Kool-Aid, a brand of flavored drink mix. The character has appeared on television and print advertising as a fun-loving, gigantic and anthropomorphic pitcher filled with cherry Kool-Aid and marked with a smiley face. He is typically featured answering the call of children by smashing through walls and furnishings an then holding a pitcher filled with Kool-Aid juice while yelling his catchphrase, "Oh yeah!"
The precursor to Kool-Aid Man, the Pitcher Man, was created on July 10, 1954 by Marvin Potts, an art director for a New York advertising agency hired by General Foods to create an image that would accompany the slogan "A 5-cent package makes two quarts." Inspired by watching his young son draw smiley faces on a frosted window, Potts created the Pitcher Man, a glass pitcher with a wide smile emblazoned on its side and filled with Kool-Aid. It was one of several designs Potts created but the only one that stuck, and General Foods began to use the Pitcher Man in all of its advertisements.
Beginning in 1974, Kool-Aid Man was introduced as a walking/talking 6-foot-tall pitcher of cherry Kool-Aid, reportedly voiced by Grey Advertising composer, Richard Berg and created by Alan Kupchick and Harold Karp (of Grey Advertising). Children, parched from playing, or other various activities, would typically exchange a few words referring to their thirst, then put a hand to the side of their mouths and call forth their "friend" by shouting "Hey, Kool-Aid!", whereupon, the Kool-Aid Man would make his grand entrance, breaking through walls, fences, ceilings or furnishings, uttering the famous words "Oh yeah!", then pour the dehydrated youngsters a glass of Kool-Aid from his own supply. Beginning in 1979, in what was seen as a major advance in children's advertising, the character's mouth was animated to "move" in synchronization with the voice actor's singing and/or dialogue.
By the 1980s, the Kool-Aid Man had attained pop culture icon status. In 1983, he was the subject of two Kool-Aid Man video games for the Atari 2600 and the Intellivision systems. He was also given his own short-lived comic book series, The Adventures of Kool-Aid Man. This ran for three issues under Marvel Comics from 1983–85 and continued with issues #4-7 under Archie Comics, with art by Dan DeCarlo, from 1987-1990.
In 1994, the live-action character was retired. From that point until 2008, the character became entirely computer-generated; however, other characters, such as the children, remained live-action. In the 2000s, singer and voice-over artist, Frank Simms began voicing the character. In 2009, the live-action character was reintroduced, playing street basketball and battling "Cola" to stay balanced on a log, where he was voiced by Pat Duke.
In popular culture
The Kool-Aid Man was featured in a YouTube Video Series entitled "Kool Killer" in which he feels abandoned and goes on a rampage and kills everyone that doesn't drink Kool-Aid (stated in the video anyone above the age of 5). He was played by Dane Boedigheimer, who also plays The Annoying Orange. His appearance is much more drastic and scarier than usual.
In May 2016, the Kool-Aid Man appeared in a television commercial for the American insurance company Progressive Corporation, voiced by voice actor Brock Powell. In 1983, Marvel and Archie Comics made a comic book series called The Adventures of Kool-Aid Man, which featured The Thirsties as the villains.
Time magazine included the Kool-Aid Man on a list of the "Top 10 Creepiest Product Mascots", saying, "Our biggest gripe with Kool-Aid Man: Why did he have to cause such a mess every time he entered the scene?"
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Shortly after, we received a call from ‘General Foods Ltd’ who were interested in doing an east coast tour with us and ‘Captain Kool-Aid’ and they asked me to write the new Kool-Aid jingle, which I did. Unfortunately, after we released the Kool-Aid song as a free giveaway during the tour, General Foods concluded that the song belonged to them and there would be no payment at all for my writing the song.
- Russeth, Andrew. "The Man Behind the Curtain: At MoMA, a David Hammons Hidden Behind Silk". Gallerist NY. Observer Media Group. Retrieved 13 March 2012.
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