Written on August 25, 2021.

Think about your favorite childhood beverages–odds are that a certain powdered fruit drink was one of them. That’s right, we’re talking about Kool-Aid.

The perfect summertime beverage, Kool-Aid was the drink that made us all feel like beverage scientists in our own right. More fun to make than simply pouring liquid into a glass, we could revel in the power of being able to blend the classic red mix ourselves.

Combining the powdered fruit drink with water, ice, and eyebrow-raising amounts of sugar, our tiny, sweet-addicted bodies would happily gulp it down by the pitcher, paying no mind that it left our teeth and tongues red and our little heart palpitating.

If Kool-Aid seems like one of those things that’s been around forever, well that’s because it has. Explore the origins of Kool-Aid, how it became the most recognized children’s drink brand, and how powdered fruit drinks continue to change what the world is drinking.

Before There Was Kool-Aid, There Was FruitSmack

We can’t tell the story of Kool-Aid without first introducing its inventor, Edwin Perkins. In the 1920s, he launched Perkins Products in Hastings, Nebraska, where he made his start by selling smoking cessation products and other inventions door-to-door. Over the course of the next few years, he would rapidly expand his business into a thriving mail-order enterprise with over a hundred household goods–one of which was FruitSmack.

The tasty soft drink concentrate came in six flavors which we recognize now as the first version of our modern-day Kool-Aid. An instant success, the 4-oz syrup allowed families to make pitchers of the fruit-flavored beverage for a fraction of the cost of a single Coca-Cola. There was just one problem: getting the drink safely to customers.

The liquid concentrate was packaged in heavy glass bottles that broke easily and leaked during shipping. Determined to find a solution, Perkins began to experiment with a reformulation of his signature product.

Of all places, he drew inspiration from Jell-O.


From Liquid To Powder–And Back Again!

As a boy, Perkins had grown up working at his family’s general store in Hendley, Nebraska. He was fascinated with the business and especially prepackaged products that utilized kitchen chemistry. It was like magic.

During high school, Perkins met classmate Kitty Shoemaker, the girl who would eventually become his wife. She introduced him to an innovative, new dessert made with a flavored powder–yep, you guessed it: Jell-O. He was so impressed with the product, that he eventually convinced his father to add it to the store’s catalog.

Fast forward to the late 1920s and Jell-O stood out to Perkins as much more than a fondly remembered date-night treat–it provided an answer. His mission was clear: he needed to find a way to dehydrate his fruit concentrate–so he did. By adjusting the original recipe’s levels of dextrose, citric and tartaric acids, flavoring, and food coloring, Perkins was successful.

Now in powdered form, the drink (yes, in all six of its original flavors) could be packaged in light, brightly colored envelopes and shipped anywhere in the US. But before unveiling his latest invention to the world, Perkins paid homage to his source of inspiration. He rebranded the drink as “Kool-Ade” in 1927 and business exploded.


An “Affordable Luxury” Becomes A Household Name

In 1929, Kool-Ade had started to make its way into stores nationwide–and then The Great Depression hit.

Despite the financial woe of the time, families continued to buy the drink over other brands, thanks to the “affordable luxury” of being able to make more of the beverage for less. The secret?

Dramatic price cuts.

Seeing an opportunity, Perkins made the risky decision to slash the cost of the 10-cent packages by half. This made it even easier for consumers to live with the frivolous expense of adding a powdered fruit drink to their already tight grocery budgets–and for Perkins, it paid off.

By 1931, Kool-Ade had discontinued the mail-order line. Instead, they focused wholly on retail distribution from their new Chicago-based operation. Distribution was finally expanded overseas in 1934. “Kool-Ade” became “Kool-Aid,” forever cementing it as a household name.


How Kool-Aid Continues To Change What The World Is Drinking

In 1953, Perkins retired and sold the company to General Foods, which later merged with Kraft Foods. It’s only fitting that the same manufacturer that continues to churn out Perkins’ favorite treat (Jell-O) is now also responsible for the care of his coveted beverage invention.

Under this new management, Kool-Aid has continued to innovate in the form of pre-sweetened formulations and new flavors, and paved the way for the emergence of other powdered drink brands like Tang, Country Time, and more.

Today, Kool-Aid comes in 20+ flavors that hit the spot all these years later–though the most popular flavor will likely always be “red.” As beverage trends continue to support innovative twists on nostalgic flavors, there is an opportunity for powdered beverages to experience continued revival, especially in the functional space.

It just goes to show how a great idea, a little innovation, and a dream can change what the world is drinking.

When you’re ready talk about your idea for a powdered drink, give us a call at (502) 273-5214 or get started with this web form.


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Written on July 28, 2021.

From kickstarting the day to pushing through a tough workout, caffeine is a regular part of our diets; in fact, we consume over 100,000 metric tons of it worldwide each year! While it might seem obvious, most of that caffeine comes from drinks–and we are lucky to enjoy more caffeinated beverage options than ever before.

Despite being around for generations, one caffeinated drink in particular has recently been making its way into the spotlight. If you aren’t already familiar with yerba mate, then you’re sure to be hearing more about it soon. Discover the origins behind this ancient superfood, why it’s so unique, and how innovative beverage brands are using it to change what the world is drinking:

Yerba Mate’s Origins

Yerba mate is made from the leaves and twigs of the Ilex paraguariensis plant, a member of the holly family. Native to the subtropical regions of South America, this herbal remedy has been enjoyed by indigenous cultures like the Guaraní for over a millennium.

With the discovery of the New World in 1492, Spanish colonizers in the Parana-Paraguay system learned of the plant and the native’s practice of consuming it. Unlike cacao and coffee, yerba mate was not a domestic plant when first encountered by Europeans; instead, it was harvested traditionally from wild stands.

In an attempt to cultivate the resource, Jesuit missionaries built up plantations in the 1650s-70s. Agricultural efforts were difficult, though they helped to establish a commercial market for yerba mate throughout the rest of the Spanish Americas. Of course, yerba mate wouldn’t make it to Europe until much later, as the continent was already too focused on crops like tea, cacao, and coffee.

By the 1770s, the drink had become largely a niche product and staple of South America where it eventually became a chief export of Paraguay and surrounding countries like Brazil, Argentina, and Chile. It remained the preferred caffeinated beverage of the region even after coffee and tea were introduced.


Drinking Yerba Mate

Consumed at all hours of the day, yerba mate continues its reign as a South American favorite prepared and enjoyed the traditional way–among friends and family.

Yerba mate is drunk from a single hollowed out gourd called a “calabash” or “mate.” This vessel comes in all kinds of shapes and styles, and utilizes another instrument called a “bombilla”–essentially a thick, curved straw with a filter at one end. Any authentic yerba mate requires these tools for proper preparation.

First, a kettle of water is heated–but not boiled! While the water is being arranged, the mate or calabash is filled about two-thirds of the way with “yerba” (the herb). Covering the opening of the gourd, it is shaken gently to bring all the larger leaves and stems to the bottom of the container so as not to clog the bombilla later.

The vessel remains tilted to keep all the herbs to one side, then the bombilla is inserted into the mate, still held at an angle. A little cold water should be added to prevent dust from gathering in the bombilla and prepare the yerba for the infusion, preserving any nutrients that might be neutralized by the addition of hot water.

Finally, hot water (less than 150-degrees Fahrenheit) can be added–but not filled to the top! Now it is ready to drink. This is where the ritual part of this process comes in. The same vessel can be refilled nearly 20 times and is meant to be shared. Here are some best practices to follow, courtesy of Francisco Huanaco of Buenos Aires, Argentina:

  • The person preparing the yerba mate is known as the “cebador/a” and should be the only person who pours fresh water between tastings.
  • The cebador/a should drink the first yerba mate poured.
  • The cebador/a should try to avoid dampening all of the leaves with each pour or the drink will lose its flavor too quickly–this is called “lavado.” It is considered disrespectful to pass someone a “mate lavado.” Always pour near the bombilla for the best result.
  • If you are offered the yerba mate, you must drink all of the liquid inside and then pass the vessel once again to the cebador/a. Always return the mate to the cebador/a!
  • It is okay to add sugar for some extra flavor, but gauge the preferences of your group before doing so. A yerba mate without sugar added is called “amargo,” meaning bitter.
  • When you are finished, rinse out the calabash and bombilla with water only, dry with a cloth, and let rest upside down to ensure no water is left inside to mold.


From Ancient Drinking Ritual To Trendy Beverage Ingredient

With a bitter, smokey, and woody flavor, yerba mate has a very distinctive taste that, like coffee, can require adjusting to–but the real draw for consumers is the caffeine. That’s right, there’s a reason why some have referred to the drink as a “productivity hack.”

Boasting an allegedly jitter-free buzz, yerba mate contains about 80mg of caffeine per cup. This amount has been described as a happy medium for consumers looking for a boost, as it contains twice as much caffeine as in black tea, but less than half that of a cup of coffee. You could even call it the Goldilocks of caffeinated beverages!

As a bonus, the beverage is also rich in vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants, as well as beneficial plant compounds like quercetin, theobromine and theophylline. Components of this superfood have been known to reduce risk of cancer and heart disease, decrease the accumulation of fat in the body, and improve blood flow. The health benefits abound.

It helps that the qualities of yerba mate are supported by trends favoring experiential, naturally positioned beverages that deliver on both functionality and flavor. This is a driving force behind why yerba mate has become a beverage favorite in recent months–and beverage developers are finding creative ways to innovate with it. As an energy booster, weight loss supplement, focus aid, and source of digestive support, there are many reasons why beverage developers are exploring the utility of yerba mate as a beverage ingredient.

Dozens of brands have popped up on the shelf and some US consumers have even taken to brewing it up the traditional way at home, as yerba mate leaves are made available at grocery stores across the nation. In recent years, yerba mate has made its way into everything from health elixirs to “clean and natural” energy drinks, even alcoholic seltzer. In May 2021, Coca-Cola’s Honest Tea portfolio rolled out a line of organic yerba mate beverages in three flavors–lemon ginger black tea, strawberry pomegranate matcha, and peach mango green tea.

It’s clear that what was once a niche beverage has officially entered the mainstream. As consumers become more educated about yerba mate, new products containing this special ingredient are sure to emerge. Yours could be next.

Do you have an idea for the next tasty, caffeinated drink? Flavorman can help you make it a reality! Get started by filling out this form or giving us a call at (502) 273-5214.


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Written on July 21, 2021.

If you were asked to name a soft drink, odds are a Coke or Pepsi might come the most readily to mind–but what about orange soda brands? As the soft drinks category innovates and gains traction, we’re exploring the origins of this zesty beverage, the world’s top brands, and how orange soda continues to change what the world is drinking.

The World’s First Orange Soda

The “original orange soda”–Orange Crush–was created in 1906 by Chicago’s J.M. Thompson; however, the commercial formula wouldn’t take off until 1911, when California-born beverage chemist Neil C. Ward perfected the blending process. It was this innovation that would ultimately bring the “zesty, all-natural orange flavor” of Orange Crush to the masses.

Soon after upgrading the initial formula, Ward joined forces with Clayton J. Howel and founded the Orange Crush Company in 1916. A beverage innovator himself, Howel brought his expertise from developing “Howel’s Orange Julep” (an orange syrup) to the partnership. As the inventor of the improved Orange Crush, Ward received the honor of having his name featured on the bottle–a common practice for early soft drink brands. The “crush” part of “Ward’s Orange Crush” was kept in the name to refer to the process of extracting oils from orange skins to achieve the drink’s signature flavor.

At the time, orange pulp–without the juice–was added to the recipe, and in 1921, real juice was finally introduced. Nearly a decade later, the decision was made to remove the real orange juice and pulp and instead utilize more shelf-stable flavor compounds to achieve the same great taste.

Within only a few years, Crush became so successful in the US market that the company expanded distribution to Canada. Two new flavors, lemon and lime, were introduced to the brand in 1919 and 1920, respectively, paving the way for a flood of additional flavors to emerge in the coming years.

Flavors like chocolate, blue raspberry, banana, and even red licorice have all been a part of the Crush portfolio; however, Crush now focuses on promoting staple flavors like grape, strawberry, and cherry alongside its signature orange. While still popular in Canada and other parts of the world, Crush, owned by Keurig Dr Pepper has become a smaller scale offering in the US market.

In general, orange soda seems to be more of a favorite abroad. But truth be told, there is another brand consumers tend to gravitate towards–and it has a much more tumultuous origin story.


“Another Man’s Trash” Becomes… A German Soft Drink?

We can’t talk about orange soda without also talking about Fanta. While Crush may have been the first, Fanta holds the title as the world’s favorite–and it owes it all to Max Keith.

If “necessity is the mother of invention” then Max Keith must be the father. As the head of Coca-Cola’s German operation in the 1930s, Keith brought prosperity to the formerly struggling branch; in fact, at the time, the Coca-Cola business in Germany was one of the world’s most successful, second only to the company’s sales in the US. Everything changed with the beginning of World War II.

In 1939, Coca-Cola had 43 bottling plants and over 600 local distributors across Germany–but with the outbreak of the war, there was no way to get the ingredients needed from the US to make Coca-Cola products. Enter, Fanta.

Keith was determined to continue business as usual, despite not being able to have any contact with the Atlanta-based headquarters. The company needed a product to sell, so he created one–an exclusively German soft drink. Utilizing the leftovers from other food industries (like fruit pulp and cheese whey) plus saccharin for sweetness, Keith created a pale golden soft drink and called it “Fanta” after the German word “fantasie.”

The drink was a hit and quickly became a household staple; especially when food shortages prompted German families to adopt Fanta as a base for soups and stews. At the end of the war, international business could resume. Despite being a profitable enterprise in Germany, production of Fanta was stopped and replaced once again by regular Coca-Cola. That was the end of the Fanta brand–at least for a little while.


How A WWII Soft Drink Became A Global Favorite

Fast forward to the 1950’s. Competitor Pepsi had started rolling out a variety of new drink flavors, while Coca-Cola’s business remained focused on selling their single, iconic product. In an effort to better compete, Coca-Cola revisited the Fanta brand and reformulated the recipe for the European market. In 1955, the new Fanta was released in Naples, Italy, using local citrus to achieve a bright and juicy orange flavor. Modern versions of Fanta Orange have since evolved from this recipe.

The drink quickly became a hit across Europe, but executives were cautious about releasing the new product in the US. Fearing that it would cannibalize sales of their signature product, Coca-Cola eventually chose to roll out Fanta Orange to the US market in the 1960s. But with little support (and marketing dollars) the US release was less successful.

Fanta Orange continued to reap slow sales in the US until the mid-1980s when Coca-Cola made the decision to pull the plug on nationwide distribution. Finding a niche consumer group for the product, the company allowed the product to remain available in regions with large immigrant populations who would be familiar with it.

In 2001, Coca-Cola gave it another shot. Fanta Orange went national in the US again, and this time, the roll out was supported by a much more aggressive marketing campaign. Moving up from its previously negligible sales volume in the early 90s, Fanta is now among the top 10 soft drinks in the US–and the world. Over the last decade, Fanta has achieved a US market share of just under 3% in 2019 and in 2020, it became the only orange soda brand to make it onto Statista’s list of the “Most Valuable Soft Drink Brands Worldwide.”

With more than 90 flavors available worldwide, it’s evident that Fanta really shines in the international space–of course, the most popular flavor will likely always be orange. As beverage trends continue to support nostalgic flavors as well as profiles that provide freshness and perceived sweetness, there is an opportunity for orange soda to experience continued revival. Bubbly, juicy, bright, and sweet–orange soda is a beverage classic that dazzles the taste buds and continues to change what the world is drinking.

When you’re ready talk about your beverage idea, give us a call at (502) 273-5214 or get started with this web form.


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Written on June 9, 2021.

Whether you gulp it down by the glass or simply enjoy a splash of it in your breakfast cereal, milk has been a staple in homes around the globe for generations. Now, that seems to be changing. Evidenced by several decades of declining milk sales, consumers seem to be turning their backs on dairy, opting instead for trendy “alternative milk” products made from plants. The latest craze? Oat milk.


Written on May 12, 2021.

When you hear the word “brunch,” what’s the first thing that comes to mind? It’s likely a tall, fluted glass of sparkling orange liquid. That’s right, we’re talking about the Mimosa.

Ahead of National Mimosa Day this May 16, we’re exploring the origins of this boozy breakfast treat, its fast rise to fame, and how it changed what the world is drinking. Pop that cork and grab an omelet–let’s tuck in for a little cocktail history:


Written on May 5, 2021.

If you’re craving a little nostalgia, then look no further than the Cosmopolitan. Often stereotyped as a woman’s signature bar drink, the “Cosmo” has a rich–albeit short–history in cocktail culture. Ahead of National Cosmopolitan Day this May 7, we’re exploring the origins of the pink drink, its fast rise to fame, and how it changed what the world is drinking.


Written on April 28, 2021.

There’s more to the Kentucky Derby than horse racing and floppy hats–it’s Mint Julep season! As you begin preparations for the “greatest two minutes in sports,” make sure you have what you need to make this year’s festivities a galloping success. In honor of Derby week, we’re going beyond your standard spearmint Julep. Get a little insight on different mints to try along with 5 tasty variations of the classic cocktail.


Written on April 14, 2021.

Thanks to advancements in flavor technology, the modern consumer can now enjoy thousands of unique flavors in food and beverages of all types–but that wasn’t always the case. Consumers owe a lot to the discovery of the world’s first artificial flavor, which became a necessary step toward creating the multitude of flavor experiences possible today. (more…)

Written on April 7, 2021.

In late August 1905, in the small village of Commugny, Switzerland, a man wept over three coffins containing the slain bodies of his pregnant wife and two small children. Who–or what–could have been responsible for such a horrific crime? Well, according to the grieving husband and father, “the absinthe made him do it.”

Leaping on Jean Lanfray‘s  story, the press would dub the gruesome act “The Absinthe Murders”; and while it wouldn’t be the first time the spirit had been blamed for inciting fits of madness, coverage of the unspeakable crime would reach global circles. Spurred by support from slighted winemakers and the Temperance Movement, public outcry against absinthe would eventually lead to a series of targeted bans against the spirit–pay no mind that Lanfray was a rampant, violent alcoholic.

Absinthe may have gotten a bad rap, but you might be surprised to learn that the spirit didn’t always have such a terrible reputation. Learn more about the world’s most misunderstood spirit with these 5 facts.

Written on March 24, 2021.

April 7 marks a very special beverage holiday in the US–National Beer Day! While some might use it as just another excuse to crack open a cold one, this annual celebration actually has some historic roots. National Beer Day serves to commemorate the date that the Cullen-Harrison Act was enacted after being signed into law by President Franklin D. Roosevelt on March 22, 1933. What’s the significance of this moment, you ask? Well, it ultimately led to the decision to repeal the Eighteenth Amendment on December 5 of that same year, thereby ending “The Great Experiment” of Prohibition.

Of course, drinking beer isn’t a uniquely American pastime, nor is it an American invention. In fact, cultures around the world have been brewing and drinking beer since well before the young nation got its start. So–ahead of America’s National Beer Day, we’re exploring our universal love of beer by taking a closer look at beer styles enjoyed around the globe.

Grab a cold one and let’s get started.

Lager Vs. Ale

If you don’t already know, most beer falls into two primary styles–lagers and ales–with a few exceptions with hybrid categories.

The biggest difference between the two types is the strain of yeast used in each production. In lagers, saccharomyces pastorianus yeast congregate at the bottom of the tank during a cooler, longer fermentation that gives the resulting beer a characteristically clean and crisp quality. The opposite is true for ales which are made with saccharomyces cerevisiae yeast. This strain floats toward the top of the fermentation at warmer temperatures, creating aromatic, often fruity beers.

Another significant nuance involves timing and temperature: ale ages for just a few weeks at around 40 to 55°F, while lagers can age for months between 32 and 45°F. It’s worth noting that the yeast in ales tends to have a higher tolerance for alcohol than that used in lagers.

From there, the specific styles and flavors of a beer continue to evolve–and that’s how we get all the delicious possibilities that exist today. We can’t go over all 100+ distinct beer styles, but here’s a few worth knowing:

1. English Brown Porter

As the name suggests, English Brown Porters are a style of English ale with a characteristically dark brown and red-tinted color. It is typically made using Fuggles hops and British pale ale malts enhanced by brown, crystal, and chocolate malts. Coming in at around 4.5 to 6 percent ABV, this type of beer has a mild flavor with notes of roasted grains, chocolate, toffee, coffee, and licorice.

2. Czech Pilsner

Also known as the Bohemian Pilsner, this style of lager was first brewed in the 1840s by “The Father of the Pilsner,” Josef Groll. Using lighter malts and spicy Saaz hops with Bavarian lager yeasts, Groll produced the world’s first Pilsner. The style is celebrated to this day, allowing beer lovers to delight in the herbal and floral flavors of this golden brew. Coming in at a low 4.5 to 5.5 percent ABV, this is one most consumers can handle more than one pour of.

3. Australian-Style Pale Ale

Australian-Style Pale Ale draws influences from its English origins, but boasts unique flavor and aroma qualities thanks to its local hop varieties. Ranging in color from straw to amber, this type of ale features distinctively fruity, tropical, and herbal notes–think mango, passionfruit, and stone fruit. It’s also a lower ABV option at 4 to 6 percent, making it easy to drink.

4. Baltic Porter

Unlike most porters, Baltic Porters are lagered and cold-fermented with lager yeast. While this style may have originated with the English, it has since been adopted by the likes of Scandinavia, Poland, and Russia. The full-bodied brew is described as malty with a silk-smooth creaminess that is balanced out with hints of smoke, bitterness, and hops. The dark ruby beer also ranges from 7 to 10 percent ABV, making it one of the highest in alcohol content on this list.

5. Scotch Ale

Also known as the Wee Heavy, Scotch Ale comes from a region less suited for highlighting hops; instead, it leans on the more readily available malt. The result is a malt-rich profile with a sweeter, caramel character. Some brews may also exhibit notes of peat smoke, another distinguishing quality of its mother country. The ale can be light red-brown to very dark, with an ABV between 3.8 and 6 percent.

6. American-Style Sour Ale

American-Style Sour Ales are made in much the same way as similar sour beer styles around the world have been made for thousands of years–by exposing unfermented beer (wort) to wild yeast and microflora. What makes them unique are the regional varieties of these organisms and how that affects the flavor of the final product. In sour ales, the result is wildly varied: brews range from pale to black in color, with profiles that feature a natural acidity and pleasant sourness at an ABV of 5 to 9 percent.

7. Ginjo Beer

Also sometimes called a Sake-Yeast Beer, the Ginjo style is classified as a hybrid brew. With roots in Japan, it is made using distinctive sake yeast or sake (koji) enzymes. The result is described as having a sake character–a mild fruitiness and earthiness with a mushroom or umami protein-like quality. In color, the brew can fluctuate from pale to dark brown with an equally varied alcohol potency.

8. Russian Imperial Stout

The Russian Imperial Stout is the style you can credit with the beer term “Imperial.” Originally brewed in England for the Russian Imperial Court in the 1800s, this type of ale boasts a complex flavor profile that combines dark roasted malty notes with fruit, chocolate, and hops for a rich sipping experience–emphasis on the word, “sip.” This beer, which varies from copper to black in color, is on the stronger side coming in at 8 to 12 percent ABV.

9. German Pilsner

Inspired by the original, the German Pilsner is a tasty lager made with Pilsner malt, plus any combination of Saaz or German Noble Hops. The pale gold brew features a stronger presence of hops than the Czech style, with sweet malt and citrusy elements for a refreshing flavor. Also coming in at a modest 4.5 to 5.5 percent ABV, this beer is one you have a little more time to enjoy.

10. Mexican Lager

Introduced by German and Austrian immigrants to the region circa the mid-1800s, Mexican Lagers are brewed with flaked corn or maize, which imparts a clean, balanced flavor that pairs well with citrus–think the popular Corona and lime. Easy to drink, these refreshingly light brews often feature colors ranging from pale yellow to deep honey. You can expect an ABV from 4 to 5.5 percent ABV.

With only 10 picks, this selection barely scratches the surface on the beer styles available to try. It just goes to show that when it comes to changing what the world is drinking, the beer world knows what it’s doing. With new innovations and experimental styles being released year after year, the flavor possibilities are truly endless–maybe you’ll be the one to create the next big hit.

Do you have an idea for a tasty flavored beer product? Flavorman can help you make it a reality! Get started by filling out this form or giving us a call at (502) 273-5214.



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