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Kool-Aid Man in bermuda shorts is far more disturbing than his default nudity – The Adventures of Kool-Aid Man #6

August 20, 2012

Kool-Aid is a God-awful product. I hate it. I hated it as a kid, and I’m sure, if it were ever for some unfathomable reason served to me now, in my downward slide into senescence, I’d hate it in adulthood. It’s like something that aliens would make if they were trying to create fruit juice based on second-hand accounts and vague rumor. It’s watery. It tastes fake, with flavors only distant cousins of what they’re supposed to be. LOATHSOME.

There were packets of it in my house’s cupboards all throughout my childhood. Maybe they were issued to my parents when I came screaming into the world. “Here’s the birth certificate and strawberry-banana flavor.” I’m sure my poor mother brewed me up a pitcher at some point or another, but my “What is this goat piss?” look when it passed my lips must have told her to never try to poison me with it again.

Nowadays the only way I ever come close to it is when I see a gross, grubby little brat with red stains around the side of his mouth, like he got into mommy’s makeup and tried and failed to do himself up like the Joker. Kool-Aid is proof that children are sugar addicts like some people are meth addicts. A meth addict doesn’t care where they get their fix, whether it’s Walter White’s highly potent “drugs as chemical art” stuff or some crap laced with Drano. They just want their fix. And kids just want sugar, whether its Godiva chocolate or the artificial whatevers in those little packets.

In summation: Kool-Aid is repugnant in any number of ways. If you like it, may you live long and prosper, but I question the judgment/wisdom/sanity of your taste buds.

And then there’s Kool-Aid Man, the venerable decades-old pitch(er)man of the product. He busts through fences, walls, and ceilings to bring kids their precious fruit-ish beverage. He seems like an affable enough fellow, with a charming rotundity and a welcoming baritone. He’s been one of the better memes on Family Guy. He had a video game. And by God, he had his own comic book — published by the Archie Comics Group, in saccharine synergy — which was provided gratis to unsuspecting children to suck them into the Kool-Aid universe, from whence they would never escape.

I’m tempted at this point to equate Kool-Aid Man with Joe Camel. A bit of a stretch, as sugar isn’t nicotine. But Joe Camel, to my knowledge, never delved into comics.

Kool-Aid Man’s title functioned as a long-form advertisement for Kool-Aid and its assorted flavors. Surprise. And he had pants in it. Repeat: Kool-Aid Man had pants. A cursory examination of Kool-Aid Man images over the years indicates that he’s covered his lower body on a number of occasions (like Arnim Zola, his upper must go uncovered or else he’s in a burqa), so this isn’t unique to the comic. But it has to be noted that, like things once seen that can never be unseen, once you put pants on something, its pantsless state, no matter how accustomed, then carries the taint of nudity. You suddenly realize that even giant pitcher mascots have things to be modest about, and that they have need of a fig leaf. Ever seen a diaper on a chimp? Isn’t that off-putting? This is a lot like that. It takes your mind places you don’t want it to go.

Conclusion: Most of the time when you see Kool-Aid Man, he’s starkers. And now that’s obvious. Inescapable. Know that going forward. Thank you, shorts.

Now, for our exemplar of the day.

You can see the Archie influences on the cover, provided by one of that character’s signature artists, Dan DeCarlo. Things are a tad more understated on the inside (and there’s no Punisher traipsing through to liven things up), but Kool-Aid Man’s environs still have a Riverdale feel. Mike Pellowski plugged the script into this (A step up or down from the New Archies? YOU DECIDE.), while James DeCarlo contributed inks. The story centers around Kool-Aid Man’s creation of a new intoxicating flavor, one that, as we shall see, is eventually named Purplesaurus Rex (combining kids’ love of both sugar and dinosaurs into an irresistible marketing machine). It sounds utterly carcinogenic, but it was apparently so good its discontinuation could trigger lengthy homilies at a distant remove.

And. Now. That. Story.

It starts with Kool-Aid Man in his lab with his most devoted disciples. He’s added a lab coat to his attire, though that can’t really paper over his dubious scientific qualifications. Like any good drug dealer, he’s eager to give a sample of his new product to those most susceptible to its charms:

The formula is immediately pilfered by Kool-Aid Man’s arch-nemesis, Scorch, the embodiment of the summertime heat which Kool-Aid is supposed to blunt. He leads the gang on a chase through Kool-Aid Man’s Wacky Warehouse, which looks to have roughly the same amount of subdivided square footage as the Mall of America, and includes a food court:

The “DANGER DO NOT ENTER” door leads to a time machine. Yes, a time machine, but one that Kool-Aid Man can’t be bothered to secure. Not a lock. Not even a twist tie. Everyone is sucked into the past, and somehow Kool-Aid Man is barfed out with his shorts replaced by khakis and a pith helmet:

They’re back in dinosaur times, and, all worries about mucking up the time continuum blithely cast aside, they soon come across a Purplesaurus:

They help him out of his predicament, and he in turn helps them locate and subdue Scorch (He can speak English. Why? Just because!). And they all return to the present so Kool-Aid Man can show what a douche he is and the inevitable naming of the grapey lemonadish drink can happen:

Huzzah.

After this there are some gratuitous games — a maze, connect the dots — to help further drive the YOU MUST DRINK PURPLESAURUS REX into the minds of children. And then there’s also a page of horrid Kool-Aid merchandise if throwing cash into a fireplace is too direct a means of income disposal:

I think it’s safe to say that if you’ve EVER in your life worn a Kool-Aid fanny pack, your chances of passing through existence a virgin increase tenfold. AT LEAST.

There you are. A little direct sequential marketing from the fine folks at Kool-Aid and Archie. It is what it is. I’ve had enough, and I’ve said enough. And don’t blame me if you have a sudden craving for a grapey lemonadish beverage.

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2 Comments leave one →
  1. Thelonious_Nick permalink
    August 21, 2012 12:31 pm

    I’m guessing you also don’t like watermelon, as that’s essentially kool-aid in a rind.

    • August 22, 2012 3:58 am

      The Watermelon Anti-Defamation League will be contacting you shortly, pointing out that you can’t consume Kool-Aid and then spit out seeds like a machine gun.

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