… and the toy doesn’t matter to me. Who would have thought the secret to time travel lies in sugar, citric acid, natural & artificial flavoring, artificial colors, and Vitamin C? Unlikely, but I believe the trick is in there somewhere.
How else to explain why making a pitcher of Kool-Aid at midnight seems to shave 30+ years off my age, at least for a few moments.
A few of you may have seen me mention how, on a whim really, I bought one little envelope of grape Kool-Aid a couple of months ago & how much I’ve been enjoying all the packs that I’ve bought since then. But aside from the refreshment & change of pace from my usual coffee or Coke routine, I’ve come to realize that there’s something more I’m enjoying about it: the sudden leap back in time to a lot simpler life, specifically life before I became the grown-up.
I’ve finally decided that the key is the smell, although I really ought to say scent or even aroma, smell just isn’t nearly elegant enough a word for it. Whether I’m mixing a pitcher or just drinking a glass, the bouquet seems to bring about a feeling that I had almost entirely forgotten, the relatively carefree way you feel at around 10 years old. I know about scent being a powerful trigger for memories and all that, but this is a pretty specific feeling that I honestly can’t attach to anything concrete. As far as I can remember, I didn’t really drink all that much Kool-Aid back in the day. I mean, we had it from time to time but it’s not like it was a staple or anything, so why it seems to have such a powerful & pleasant impact on me now is something that I really can’t explain to any degree of satisfaction. That being said, I’m fairly content to just take it for what it is, but it did start me thinking about what else does the same sort of thing for me.
Like orange popsicles, the old-fashioned simple kind with no nutritional value whatsoever, although that’s almost a duplicate of the Kool-Aid sensation and formula. I’ve got an extremely specific one involving Burger King too, although it’s another copycat.
See, when & where I grew up, there weren’t too many Burger King’s nearby that I can recall. There were a couple in Rome though, laid out just like the one in this old commercial and that’s how I got a chance to try something I was dying for sometime in the 70’s: The Ice Brr-Grr. I have to admit that I couldn’t have told you the name today without some successful Googling but I can describe it from memory. Think miniature popsicle, kind of triangle shaped, in that waxy paper packaging sort of like what Wendy’s puts their sour cream in today. Tear off the top, push up the mini-sicle from the bottom & enjoy the icy goodness. I can’t seem to put an exact year to it, neither can the internet as far as I can find this morning, but figure I was somewhere between 8-11 so make that ’75-’78. Finally getting one was a bit of a letdown in terms of taste but I can still remember the excitement of just getting it after some serious anticipation, the disappointment wasn’t too traumatic apparently since I still remember the experience in a lot of detail & it’s a happy memory.
Same letdown as I recall with going to an Arthur Treacher’s Original Fish and Chips somewhere in Marietta in the early 70’s. I don’t think it lived up to the hype in my mind but it was still a kick to try it. Then there were those blasted Dick Clark “Tak-Hom-A-Sak” commercials on TV but no Steak-n-Shake anywhere around us … but I digress.
There’s other food from the past that I associate with good memories of course — Mama’s dressing, Granny’s potato salad, pretty much anything my (great)uncle Reid cooked, even if I didn’t normally like it he made it smell & look good — you know, home-cooked things that you’d expect to have as happy childhood memories. But for me none of those things seem to be so completely associated with that same feeling, that kid-state-of-mind, like something as simple as Orange Kool-Aid.
It’s gotta be the citric acid & food coloring.