Tuesday, July 7, 2009

Kool Aid is the answer

For some time now I'd been considering a question — not exactly an earth shattering one — which I've only just realized has been answered since long before I was born. The answer is Kool-Aid. You may think that any question whose answer is "Kool-Aid" would be a silly question, but it's merely a geeky question.

I am a fan of flavored water. In our house we drink filtered tap water, bottled flavored water (usually store brand), coffee, and a few juices. After going through a bout of intensive cola drinking after moving from Hungary to Britain in 1994, I simply stopped drinking the stuff in 1998 when my daughter was born. As a household we simply shifted to plain old ordinary water.

A few years ago I discovered unsweetened flavored bottled water. The flavoring (particularly any citrus-like flavoring) made the water seem more refreshing. So each time we go shopping, we pick up a dozen or so plastic bottles of flavored water. It is a regular staple of our household, and the only reason that I don't go through dozens of bottles of it a day is that I don't want to buy that many.

Now let me make it clear that I am not a particular fan of bottled water. I like water in a bottle, but the idea of buying water that gets hauled around in trucks for 1000 times the price of the built-in water delivery system that is in my house just offends my sense of efficiency. (I have neither training as an engineer nor as an economist, but I share their distaste for waste. So I like to think that I think like an engineer or economist.) You can think of this inefficiency in terms of money it costs you or in terms of environmental damage. In this, as in other cases, it works out to be the same.

So, I thought, wouldn't it be nice to just be able to purchase the distilled flavoring that is used for flavored water. It would be much cheaper/efficient to transport and store, and the water I would mix it with would be much fresher than that in a purchased bottle of water. So why doesn't someone go into the business of selling just unsweetened flavoring that I could add to the water at home? Well, Kool-Aid has been around since 1927 doing exactly that. Of course they add food coloring, which I could do with out. But I can live with a little food coloring to save on consuming stall transported water.

So on my next shopping trip, I'll be picking up a few ounces of Kool-Aid instead of a few pounds of water. It will take some experimentation to get the mixture right, and there is always the possibility that no Kool-Aid flavor does the trick, but I suspect that the flavoring that is used in Kool-Aid is pretty much the same flavoring that is used for flavored water.

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