Saturday, November 22, 2008

Don't Drink the Kool-Aid

I must apologize in advance for this post. I'm not sure how widespread this inside joke is, although other people might find their own inside references from this. Regardless, this was one of those moments I couldn't pass up.

In my dorm room, I keep an old gallon Hawaiian Punch container for making drinks in. It usually alternates between strawberry lemonade and cherry Kool-Aid. I usually take a funnel, measure out the powder in the cap of the liquid, and mix a gallon's worth in the sink.

One of the problems I always have when mixing powdered drinks like this is trying to eyeball the little plastic "fill to here" line on the inside of those lids. If I make a batch that goes a little strong, I'll let it slide. If it's weak, I'll try adding more powder and stirring it up again. This sometimes works, sometimes not.

Apparently, my last batch of cherry Kool-Aid was a "sometimes not" instance. I had noticed that it tasted a bit weak, so I tried adding more powder. This had no effect, so I tried it a few more times. Still no dice. I basically called this batch a dud, and tried to avoid drinking it. I don't know why I didn't just throw it away... Maybe I thought there was a chance of redeeming it once the container was more empty.

On a random whim, I felt like drinking some of it today. What makes this weird is that I actually desired the taste of watery Kool-Aid (I had a dinner with a good amount of garlic and cheese, maybe the "slightly fruity" taste would have complimented it well). I picked up the jug, and noticed some white stuff that had settled to the bottom. I shook up the bottle, thinking that would dissolve the extra sugar, and took off the cap to take a sip... to realize that the white stuff didn't actually dissolve. It was mold.

My exact reaction to this, as I removed the bottle away from my lips: "Whoa... Don't drink the Kool-Aid."

Upon further inspection, I noticed that there were also black spots on the inside of the bottle, which meant that this batch definitely had to go. For that matter, the whole bottle had to go. (I'm not a fan of cleaning mold out of containers with narrow openings.) However, it was nice to see, despite a rather disappointing circumstance, a nice little flashback of an old high school inside joke. I don't know how many other people will remember it the same way I did (I know there's more than one interpretation of it out there), but it made me smile for a moment.


Anonymous said...

This was never the case until recent years and no matter how much I research, I can't figure out what this white stuff is.

Anonymous said...

Normally, when using a clean pitcher or other container to make Kool Aid and similar products, you'll find "white stuff" that eventually settles to the bottom. This is usually the small amount of cornstarch used probably as an anti-caking agent and undissolved citric acid. Cornstarch doesn't dissolve in water but rather forms a suspension. Eventually it falls out of suspension. Citric acid, which is both a preservative and provides tartness, doesn't fully dissolve at room temperature and dissolves even less in cold water. The undissolved portion also falls to the bottom. If you want to see less "white stuff" in your Kool Aid, make it with very hot water though even at boiling it's only about 84% soluble. I'm old enough to remember Kool Aid without the white stuff and what "Don't drink the Kool Aid" means but I don't remember what the original ingredients were.