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The cult that inspired "drink the Kool-Aid" didn’t actually drink Kool-Aid

It wasn't Kool-Aid at Jonestown.

You've probably heard someone say "drinking the Kool-Aid" — and maybe you've said it yourself. But it's not just callous — it's inaccurate, too.

It wasn't Kool-Aid. Flavor-Aid is the real culprit.

The phrase "drinking the Kool-Aid" refers to the 1978 Jonestown massacre, in which more than 900 people committed mass suicide by drinking a flavored drink mixed with Valium, chloral hydrate, cyanide, and Phenergan. Kool-Aid's association with Jonestown has turned into a common meme and saying:

An internet meme depicts the Kool-Aid man with Jonestown.

An Internet meme depicts the Kool-Aid man in relation to Jonestown.

The surprising thing is that all the sources on the massacre say the powder was the grape variety of another drink brand, Flavor Aid. Made by Jel-Sert, Flavor Aid appeared in one of the first newspaper reports on the massacre. The claim is repeated in the 1982 book Raven: The Untold Story of the Rev. Jim Jones and His People. And surviving witnesses said that Flavor Aid was the drink used, not Kool-Aid.

With the evidence so clear, why did the phrase "drinking the Kool-Aid" emerge? Mental Floss suggests Kool-Aid's role as being a genericized name for all flavored drinks, the popularity of The Electric Kool-Aid Acid Test, and other factors made it easier to remember "Kool-Aid" than "Flavor Aid."

Why it's worth correcting the Kool-Aid mistake

Many of the strongest arguments to abandon the phrase come from San Diego State University's Jonestown Institute, including:

Maybe you think enough time has passed since the massacre that sensitivity shouldn't be an issue. Even then, there's another reason to avoid saying "drinking the Kool-Aid": it's just not accurate.