Wednesday, May 19, 2010

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Now that the weather is getting warmer, my kids are constantly in the fridge, reaching for the drinkables. We go through a gallon of milk a day, plus several pitchers of lemonade, numerous liters of soda and countless bottles of Gatorade. And, of course, water, which comes right out of the front of the fridge (unheard of back in my day).

When we were growing up, we had milk for breakfast and lunch. At dinner, my mom would bring out the sleek plastic teacups, and we would have a cup of hot tea liberally cut with milk while my parents had their evening coffee.

Of course, the real treats were the rare occasions when my parents allowed us to have chocolate milk. Remember Ovaltine? Those chocolate crystals never quite dissolved all the way, sticking to the top of the glass until we scrapped them off with our spoons. They were delicious.

When summer came, however, the four of us wanted something lighter and cooler than glasses of chocolate milk or hot milky tea. By the time school was out for summer, we were pleading for Kool-Aid, in fantastic colors and flavors. My mom reluctantly agreed....the packets of unsweetened drink were cheap enough, but we weren't the neatest kids when it came to adding sugar (and we always complained the drink wasn't sweet enough when she added it). What was your favorite Kool-Aid flavor?

In 1964, Pillsbury decided to challenge the Kool-Aid monopoly by introducing the Funny Face Drink mixes. I can remember the original line up - Goofy Grape, Injun Orange, Freckled Face Strawberry (my personal favorite), Chinese Cherry (complete with gong), Loud Mouth Lime and Rootin' Tootin' Raspberry. I remember loving their commercials, which started like this:

By 1966, the commercials were pulled due to protests from Native Americans claiming the name "Injun Orange" was racist. Pillsbury changed the name to "Jolly Olly Orange" and did some damage control by turning "Chinese Cherry" into "Choo Choo Cherry." The new commercials looked like this:

My mom preferred Funny Face to Kool-Aid because it was pre-sweetened, meaning we didn't need to be near the sugar bowl. Unfortunately, in the early years, Funny Face was sweetened with cyclamates, which were banned by the FDA in 1968 as a possible cancer risk. Goofy Grape and the gang were pulled from shelves, returning the following year sweetened with saccharine. The aftertaste was no winner, so in 1970 a new Funny Face was introduced with the tag line "just add sugar." Back to the sugar bowl!

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