Kool-Aid, a powdered soft drink mix, and cultural icon in North America, was invented in Omaha, Nebraska, in the year 1927.

The inventor, Edwin Perkins, was a self-taught chemist and developed many common products, specialising in flavours and scents. In the year 1914, at the age of 25, Perkins, and his wife Kitty, were marketing 125 products via nationwide mail-order sales. The Perkins Products Company was selling cleaners, toilet products, perfumes, extracts, and many other household preparations.

A fruit-flavoured beverage concentrate, which Perkins called "Fruit Smack", was one of his most popular lines. Available in six flavours (cherry, grape, lemon, orange, root beer and raspberry), the beverage was marketed in 4-ounce bottles. The Perkins Products Company mail-order catalogue described the product so:

"It has no equal for parties, socials, dances, church and lodge affairs. Can be prepared by the single glass or by the bowlful. Splendid to serve when company drops in unexpectedly. Absolutely pure and healthful."

Fruit Smack's problem was the bottle -- which was heavy and prone to breakage and leaks whilst in transit through the mail.

In 1927, Perkins took inspiration from the popular Jell-O dessert preparation, and was successful in producing a dehydrated form of Fruit Smack, which he packed into sachets, providing his customers with all the benefits of Fruit Smack at a much cheaper cost.

"Kool-Ade" (sic) was born in seven different flavours: cherry, lemon-lime, grape, orange, root beer, strawberry, and raspberry. The name was later modernised to "Kool-Aid".

The product was a hit all over the USA and Latin America, being marketed in 1-ounce envelopes, allowing thirsty consumers to add their own sugar and water to produce a tasty and inexpensive soft drink at home. The product line was so successful, in fact, that the Perkins Products Company abandoned all their other lines so as to focus on Kool-Aid.

The General Foods corporation purchased the rights to Kool-Aid in the year 1953, when Ed Perkins was 64 years old, and moved manufacturing operations from Nebraska to Chicago, Illinois. General Foods merged with Kraft in the year 1989.

At the time of writing, Kool-Aid is available in over 20 flavours and a number of pre-mixed, powdered, and frozen forms. Over 560,000,000 gallons (2,119,768,000 litres!) of Kool-Aid are consumed every year.

Kool-Aid is the Official Soft Drink of Nebraska, being declared by Governor Ben Nelson on May 21, 1998.