I’m back with another review of old Kool-Aid. Just smile and nod and pretend that this is something you care about.
I said nod.
For the longest time, Surfin’ Berry Punch was my white whale. My bright red white whale. It’s one of the hardest Kool-Aid flavors to find on the collectors’ market, and not just because it’s been out of production for over 25 years.
Judging by my research, Surfin’ Berry Punch only had one strong year: 1987, which was also its debut year. The flavor quietly lasted until the early ‘90s, but only because Kool-Aid takes a while to go bad, and hell, if you already made and packaged the stuff, that money’s spent.
Since it was kinda rare even in its day, Surfin’ Berry Punch is crazy rare now. In fact, it wasn’t until 2017 that I finally saw a few packets pop up, and I’d been searching for this Kool-Aid nonstop — I mean 24/7 nonstop — since 2002.
Just smile and nod.
When Surfin’ Berry Punch (technically Surfin’Berry Punch, but that stylization is commonly ignored by us Kool-Aid folk) debuted, Kraft had not yet introduced the “character” flavors, like Purplesaurus Rex or Sharkleberry Fin.
As Surfin’ Berry Punch was one of the final flavors introduced before that paradigm shift, you can totally see Kraft yearning to push the envelope. Absent big grape purple dinosaurs, this was as crazy as Kool-Aid got.
According to the original TV commercial — which I’m hoping was misdated, otherwise I’m wrong about that supposed 1987 debut — the flavor of Surfin’ Berry Punch was “a wave of wild berries.” That’s pretty nondescript, like “bowl of brown” or “enemy bait.”
Surfin’ Berry Punch was part of the Punch Bunch, which I covered during my Mountain Berry Punch review. This was a gaggle of vaguely-defined Kool-Aid flavors that found camaraderie in the fact that all of their names ended with “Punch.” They were like a street gang, and Surfin’ Berry Punch was the one with the unrealistically great hair.
I wasn’t wild about the powder color, which to me felt too dim and purply for a beverage that was supposed to look like liquid firetrucks. Fortunately, it changed color as soon as it hit water, like a less braggy Great Bluedini.
The verdict: Ridiculously good. I’ve tasted blood and I want more.
I’d say it’s 80% cherry, 15% raspberry and 5% mystery flavor. I assume that Surfin’ Berry Punch was created to dick over Hawaiian Punch, but the competing mixes were more similar in name than flavor. This was basically second grade sangria.
I feel so privileged that I got to taste Surfin’ Berry Punch. I’m walking with increased confidence. My lips look like Joker lips. I carry the empty packet in my wallet. Everything is smooth. Nothing is.