Kraft is announcing a redesign of its red Kool Aid Man character on Monday, marking the latest iteration in a long line of figures dating to the 1960s. It seems the triumphant red pitcher of drink mix, in his latest form, will be less about breaking through brick walls and shouting “Oh yeah!” and more about making friends. Using the latest 3-D technology, Kraft has simulated a dewy coating of condensation on the Man’s exterior, making him appear more fragile—and lifelike—than he has in past decades.
With a mind to the past, we’ve collected some of the many faces of Kool Aid Man, from his sketchy origins to his lusciously rasterized rebirth.
This is how the new Kool Aid Man will appear in TV commercials. Notice that
the eyebrows and mouth are now more expressive and hint at a gentle playfulness.
A minimalist, molded-looking Man appeared in a number of commercials
in 2009 and 2010 in which he competed against a bottle of generic soda.
The two containers also competed in a game of log-rolling.
And they attended a baseball game where Kool Aid Man gave a fly ball
to a small boy. In this ad, the competition between Kool Aid and soda was
less physical but no less crushing for the latter.
In recent years, this has been the Man’s default appearance in ads
and other art produced by the company. Note the 90s-style clothing
and similarities between the design and video game characters.
A 1998 comic book created by Alan Moore and Peter Bagge presented
Kool Aid Man as an unkempt author with more than a few bad habits,
including a fondness for folk music. (source: againwiththecomics.com)
The ice-filled pitcher also appeared in a number of early video
games, such as this title for the obscure Intellivision console.
Comics provided new walls for the Man to burst through and new challenges
that awaited him on the other side. In a world where fire demons often stole
enormous keys from their rightful owners, a refreshing sugary drink was
just what a civilized society required. (source: coverbrowser.com)
In earlier renderings, Kool Aid man had the same three ice cubes
for brains but often took time for himself. Children, however, were
never far from the influence of this pied piper of good times.
Earlier incarnations of the Kool Aid drama were sometimes less idyllic in
their interactions between pitcher and setting. Here, flying wood hangs
in space as an immediate danger, and the Man is holding a smaller
pitcher of drink for the kids (one of which has a mustache). Later
versions, by allowing the Man’s own contents to slosh over his
lip, suggested that the drink would come from the being’s
own reservoir of Kool Aid. Refreshing!