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 … “