Kool-Aid or Freshie? Discuss.

A recent yard-sale find, purchased because it reminded me of the popsicles that my Aunt Genevieve used to make. Now all I need is a packet of Freshie!

My cousins Nancy and Valerie have commented a few times on recent Sunday-dinner-related posts, which has got me thinking about all the good times our two families spent together when we were little kids in the Manse years. One of the absolute best things about visiting the Paynes’ farm near Lindsay, Ont., was the popsicles that Aunt Genevieve made. We never had anything so exciting at our house. A perfect midafternoon treat on a hot summer day was one of those popsicles pulled out of Aunt Genevieve’s freezer.

(Did you know that high-end homemade popsicles are quite the thing now? Here is a piece by the New York Times‘s wonderful Mark Bittman, complete with yummy-sounding recipes. Strawberry-basil pops, anyone? Tomato-cucumber? Orange cream? Mojito?)

I’m pretty sure – though Nancy or Valerie, please correct me if I’m wrong – that those popsicles were made by mixing up a batch of Kool-Aid – or, more probably, Freshie – and pouring it into the popsicle moulds. Wasn’t Freshie kind of the Canadian version of Kool-Aid? According to the ever-authoritative Wikipedia, yes: “Freshie was a Canadian drink mix that was a popular alternative to Kool-Aid in the domestic marketplace from the 1950s to the early 1980s.” (Sum total of entry.) Have any U.S readers ever heard of Freshie? I’m guessing not. Kool-Aid was certainly available in Canada in those days, but I suspect Freshie may have been cheaper, in addition to being the homegrown product.

When I think back on it, we (I’m talking kids in general in those days) consumed a lot of that stuff – in liquid as well as popsicle form. Understandable, I guess; a packet cost next to nothing, and it was easy enough for a mum to add water to that sugary, chemically powder, mix it up, and instantly make a lot of kids happy. In the back of my mind, though, I can still hear Dad grumbling, “You could always drink water!” Which would have been a lot better for us, but where’s the fun in that?

Anyway, Kool-Aid vs. Freshie: I think (probably because of the price factor) we usually had the latter, but I remember wanting Kool-Aid because of – get this – the packaging. Those colourful pitchers with the smiling face on them and the droplets of condensation looked so tantalizingly delicious! Whereas the cockatoo, or whatever that stupid bird was on the Freshie packet, was just ugly.

But that’s just me. Which side do you weigh in on in the Kool-Aid-vs.-Freshie debate?

And more to the point, can you sing the Freshie jingle? “Freshie is the treat for me, and me, and me, and me … “

41 thoughts on “Kool-Aid or Freshie? Discuss.

  1. Kool-Aid Kool-Aid tastes great
    Gotta go the bathroom can’t wait…
    Wasn’t that the way it went? I can’t actually remember the real version so obviously I was at an age when toilet humour stuck.
    It was Kool-aid all the way at our house. Probably that was what the local Dominion carried.
    Nancy still makes those popsicles which also require a packet of Jello powder. They are as good now as they were 40 years ago.

  2. I do indeed. Not a natural ingredient in sight. They come in lime, grape or red (could be cherry, could be strawberry, could be raspberry–who knows?) And yes, they are still awesome.

      • You’ll find this recipe on many a mommy blog, often described as no-drip ice pops. Which can only be true if you’re not eating them on a sweltering summer day, as we invariably were. This thread has reminded me that Ken was hit with the same blast from the past several years ago when he was here on a hot day and I offered him one of these chemical-laced, tongue-staining beauties. Enjoy! http://www.grouprecipes.com/49294/no-drip-popsicles.html

      • Thank you, Nancy! Now that I have the moulds, I am going to give this a whirl. Though I have to say that I too don’t get the “no-drip” part. Isn’t that much of the point of popsicles?

    • Just to clarify flavours they are green purple and red. To support my sisters point the closest that actual fruit comes to these is the picture on the jello box. Katherine you might just guess the secret ingredient.

  3. In my family home in the 1950s Kool-Aid was regarded as a sinister American corporate invader – owned I believe then and now by Consolidated Amagamated International, or some such juggernaut – and also a threat to proper spelling. Freshie all the way for us.

    • That is too funny, Brian! Bad spelling AND American-owned. I wonder who and where the maker of Freshie was. Having discovered that the famous Cheezies were originally made in Tweed, Ont., I now wonder what other tiny places might have harboured makers of foods and beverages of dubious nutritional value but lasting popularity.

  4. Katherine, your set won’t be complete until the sticks are chewed and the plastic at the handle turns white and threatens to break clean off every time you’re too impatient to wait for the water to properly thaw the outer bit of popsicle to finally thaw already and just come out of the mold and you put just a little too much effort into twisting it free.

    I remember being quite a Kool Aid snob when I was little and being quite let down at birthday parties where there was only Freshie.

    And I don’t recall the Freshie commercial at all, but I know the Kool Aid mom was relieved that she controlled the sugar and that it just cost pennies a glass.

  5. I could easily be persuaded to have mojito Popsicles!! I suspect that the Dental Association was thrilled to have the kiddies drinking Kool-Aid (never heard of Freshie) because of the sugar content.

  6. I’d much prefer Jose Cuervo Margarita popsicles…my favorite is a mixture of the classic lime flavor with a bit of the watermelon flavor mixed in. There will be margaritas flowing at Goose Rocks this summer (I’m hooked on them lately), so bring along the popsicle makers if you wish!!

  7. I was always a Freshie connoisseur. It tasted fruitier, and less like chemicals! (of course, we didn’t have cable, and so I was unaffected by the influence of the Kool-aid commercials!)
    Funny that you thought the Kool-aid packages were more attractive… my friends thought the metallic colours of the Freshie toucan were trippy, and thought that Kool-aid looked boring by comparison!

    • Zoe, that is a seriously incisive analysis of the relative merits of Kool-Aid and Freshie – thank you! You know, I can kind of see the “trippy” aspect of those metallic Freshie packages, now that you mention it. But the metallic business also makes me remember how they would make my fillings jangle (the way aluminum foil does) if I made the mistake of trying to open a package of Freshie with my teeth. Yipes!

      • I don’t remember that ad, but I have a hunch that it didn’t make its way onto CBC. And as you well know, we had our pick of CKWS and CHEX, and they both played the same things! The ads on the American stations in Rochester or Watertown were much different and I do recall seeing ads that looked so fun. For example, I remember seeing Ethel Merman doing an ad for Canada Dry, on the Watertown station (only time I ever saw that ad). But as for this particular ad with the Monkees and Bugs Bunny, I don’t remember it.

      • The best thing (for a little kid like me) about the ads on WWNY Watertown were the ones for candy that we couldn’t get here – Baby Ruth and Three Musketeers and Mounds chocolate bars, for instance. I can still remember how thrilling it was on my first visit Stateside, in my late teens, when I was able to actually buy and taste them!

    • Paul, it’s not my image – just one of the very scarce ones I found online. Go for it. And – tell me more about this memoir! Sounds intriguing, especially if Freshie has a part in it!

      • Katherine, it’s by Dr. Ted Vandevis. It will be called The Marsh and the Pyramids. I’ll try to remember to post a link here to the Amazon page when it get’s published. It’s about growing up North of Toronto in a community of Dutch ex-pats in the drained marshes of Holland Marsh during the 1950’s and 60’s see: http://www.wikiwand.com/en/Holland_Marsh. It’s pretty well written. THanks for your interest!

      • I am very interested, Paul! That part of Ontario’s history has always intrigued me. I spent many years in Port Hope, which is next to Durham Region, where there were also an extraordinary number of Dutch immigrants who worked as farmers, landscapers, etc. Please do let me know when the book is published!

  8. I was fishing in Ontario last summer and what they were serving us at the lodge they called “Freshie.” The wiki entry indicates that they stopped making this in the 1980’s. What’s the story…is it still made…and what were we drinking??

    • Great question, Craig! For sure Freshie has not been in existence since the 1980s, as Wikipedia says; but my theory is that its memory is so deeply ingrained in the Canadian consciousness that your hosts at the fishing lodge just couldn’t help themselves as they (erroneously) referred to that American-invader product Kool-Aid as “Freshie.” Old memories die hard!

  9. Great thread of forgotten memories.

    I was just doing a search on ‘Freshie’ after reminiscing with my sister on ‘fun stuff’ from childhood. We lived one year (1965) in the Kingston area and also watched the tantalizing ads from Watertown, NY. I spent many hours daydreaming on the scrumptiousness of Tootsie Rolls…until I tried one a few decades later.

    We were a unsweetened Kool-aid household. The sugar mom added never completely dissolved so I would scoop the remainder with my finger from the bottom of the glass. The years prior we lived in Calgary…more of a Freshie town. I would collect pop bottles and trade them in to buy packs of Freshie, Jello, etc. and I stored them away in case the ‘Atom Bomb’ was dropped. I imagined myself surviving in the post apocalyptic wilderness (no school or girls) having adventures after befriending Joe from the Forest Rangers.

    • Tom, your comment is delightful! I too recall how disappointed I was when I finally got to try a Tootsie Roll – man, they so did not live up to the Saturday-morning-cartoon-commercial hype! And I must thank you for reminding me about sweetened vs. unsweetened Kool-Aid – I’d quite forgotten that. I shudder to think how much sugar the packages of the unsweetened kind called for – and how much dodgy chemical crap was probably in the sweetened version. I am happy you never had to use your nuclear-holocaust store of Jell-O! (Because really, what could make you feel better after a nuclear holocaust than some Jell-O powder?) Finally: how have I managed to be the only middle-aged Canadian kid ever not to have seen the Forest Rangers? (I made up for it by viewing Adventures in Rainbow Country.)

      • As I recall, Freshie was much cheaper because you had to add a ton of sugar to make it. It was super sour when tasted in its dry form. Luckily my parents didn’t do the math for the sugar addition so Freshie it was. Sidebar…nice Forest Rangers reference. My uncle is Gordon Pinsent who played the RCMP officer. Good times!

  10. Where’s the kool-aid said my brother, where’s the kool-aid said my sis, here in the ice box said my father and he gave my mother a great big kiss. It was Freshie at our house in Wpg. except for the times when Mom made the drink with the syrup that she bought at the door from the Watkins man. My Mom is 92 now and still says Freshie when talking about Kool-aid type drinks. Thanks for the memories.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s