And the hits just keep on comin’!
Last November, my ears perked up during the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade broadcast. As a giant Kool-Aid Man rolled down 34th Street, one of the hosts casually announced some of upcoming flavors for 2014. Among them was SHARKLEBERRY FIN.
The host didn’t know this, but Sharkleberry Fin wasn’t a “new” flavor. It existed many years ago, delighting Kool-Aid lovers with its adorable mascot: A pink shark wearing sunglasses. It was just one of several “character-based” Kool-Aid flavors that I’ve been gushing about for my entire goddamned internet history.
Well, as most of you know, Sharkleberry Fin did come back. That shark is out there and ready to recapture the hearts of untold millions.
But brother, he didn’t come alone!
I’ve been trying to cut down on my textual expletives, but HOLY FUCKING SHIT. Sharkleberry Fin! Purplesaurs Rex! The Great Bluedini! Rock-A-Dile Red! Pink Swimmingo! That’s EVERY character-based Kool-Aid flavor in HISTORY, brought back at the same time!
Having collectively run their course by the end of the ‘90s, it seemed that these flavors would only live on in our memories. (Unless you’re like me, and dedicated too many nights and far too much money to tracking down the original packets.) The combination of great flavors and wild mascots made them some of the most beloved Kool-Aid flavors ever. With my long history of Kool-Aid reviews, I can’t tell you how many times people have emailed begging for packets of Purplesaurus Rex or Rock-A-Dile Red. My answer was always “SORRY MINE.”
Many openly pined for them, but few expected Kool-Aid to actually bring them back, and nobody expected them to bring back ALL FIVE AT ONE TIME.
The above photo compares the old packet designs to the new ones, and yeah, there were a few modifications.
Purplesaurus Rex, Great Bluedini and Pink Swimmingo are largely the same, but Sharkleberry Fin traded his pink flesh for a more natural skin color — not to mention his sunglasses for a pair of underwater goggles. I can live with that, but only barely.
The biggest change was to Rock-A-Dile Red. Formerly a humanoid crocodile with ruby skin, he’s now a more literal croc. For some reason, he also ditched the saxophone for a guitar. I guess Kool-Aid wanted the flavors to employ “natural” animals as mascots, but jeez, there’s an octopus in a top hat, and a living pitcher of Kool-Aid riding a shark. It was gonna be science fiction no matter how green they made the crocodile.
Of course, these aesthetic changes do little to sully this event’s status as THE BEST NEWS IN THE HISTORY OF THINGS. Even without the same level of fanfare, this is just as incredible as the return of Frute Brute and Fruity Yummy Mummy.
Here they are, one by one!
Sharkleberry Fin is my sentimental favorite, even if it does lose a little something when the shark ain’t pink. A blend of everyday fruits, I’m happy to report that even though disgusting bananas are pictured, they’re virtually undetectable when you drink it. It’s more sweet than tart — a rarity for Kool-Aid — and its color lets me pretend that I’m downing expensive Mai-Tais. A+.
Purplesaurus Rex is probably the leader of the pack, and if I recall correctly, the oldest of the five. This is the one people go crazy for, and by far the flavor that I’ve been asked about most. “Grape lemonade” might not sound like a home run, but believe me, it’s astonishingly good. The fact that it’s fronted by an obliviously gleeful purple dinosaur is just the gravy, but man, what gravy that is! A+.
The return of Great Bluedini is going to blow some minds for sure. Despite its cult following, it never achieved the reach of the previous flavors. Even if some of us believed that Kool-Aid might someday bring back Purplesaurus or Sharkleberry, it was much harder to imagine THE GREAT F’N BLUEDINI nailing an encore. Well, lo and behold! The folks at Kool-Aid even remembered its best feature — the color-changing powder! It’s green while dry, but once you add water, BAM, you got windshield wiper fluid. A+.
Seeing Pink Swimmingo again was a shock. I’m elated of course, but I didn’t think it had enough name value to pass muster. Mixing watermelon and cherries but tasting more like Generically Awesome Pink Lemonade, I actually tested an ancient packet several months ago. It’s even better fresh! I also enjoy the notion of a shark and a flamingo arguing over who represents the pinker Kool-Aid. A+.
Rock-A-Dile Red blends cherries, strawberries and what are either grapes or hideous alien eggs, but from color to flavor, it’s as close as these flavors get to “classic red Kool-Aid.” The newly-normal croc mascot is growing on me, if only because there’s something unmistakably Hobbes-like about him. I refuse to compare these flavors, but if you put a gun to my head, I might admit that Rock-A-Dile Red is a strong candidate for best-tasting. A+.
I still can’t believe that Kool-Aid brought them back at the same time. That’s great for us, but I think they could’ve gotten more mileage out of staggering the returns. Start with Rock-A-Dile Red and work your way up. Build momentum. Get your Facebook page stuffed with angry “WHEN WILL WE SEE PURPLE SAUR” posts.
On the bright side, so long as we don’t get too technical about it, there’s still one character-based Kool-Aid left to recover. Incrediberry is even older than the rest of them, and probably ten times more obscure. The mascot was an amorphous blob of berry guts, purportedly capable of flight.
Hey, Kool-Aid! You still have one left!
Be on the lookout for these flavors, but I should warn you — I only had an easy time finding Sharkleberry Fin. After trips to umpteen stores and dark sacrifices to unspeakable gods, I finally caved and ordered the rest online. Paid ten times their MSRP, plus shipping.
IT WAS WORTH IT.