If you have ever bought a packet of Kool-Aid1, you have probably noticed a little rectangle with a dotted line border containing the Kool-Aid Man's face, the words "PROOF-OF-PURCHASE", and "1 point". Well, friends, that is a Kool-Aid Point. And if you are a big enough Kool-Aid drinker to buy boxes of packets of Kool-Aid, or other larger quantities, you will probably have noticed that instead of saying "1 point", those containers say "2 points", or, if you have purchased a sufficient quantity of the stuff, perhaps even "5 points"!

"Fine and dandy", you may say, "but what good does it do me, knowing what those things are?" Well, these days, you just go to the Kool-Aid website, www.kool-aid.com (what else?), find the "free stuff*" link, find what you want (make sure you have the requisite number of points; at the time of this writing, a beach towel will run you 200 points, a Kool-Aid Man plush toy, 150 points, a Kool-Aid Stirring Spoon is a mere 25 points, and the highly useful magnetic Kool-Aid packet holder costs barely anything, at 20 points), print out the order form with whatever you've picked, attach your points (and a few bucks for shipping and handling), mail it all in, and in 6-8 weeks you will have your very own piece of Kool-Aid paraphernalia.

Of course, all of that positively pales in comparison to what you could get from the Kool-Aid Wacky Warehouse of yesteryear. (Looking that the website, it seems as though the last Warehouse promotion ended in 1999.) Back then, the beach towel was probably a midrange to low end item, where the really high end items were things like a glass Kool-Aid pitcher and mug set for 2000 points or so. My own personal favorite was Mario Paint for the Super Nintendo - as far as I can recall, that bad boy was the absolute premium item at the time (this was in 1993, I want to say?), and it went for an astounding 2700 points.

Now, 2700 points may seem like a lot of Kool-Aid, but by gum, my sister and I, in 1993, got ourselves a copy of Mario Paint (and a beach towel, and other assorted crap too, but I don't really remember what any of that was.) And how long did it take to accumulate all of these points? A mere five years.. "But wait!", you say, thinking to yourself after doing some calculations, "if you only get one point per packet, and you spent about three thousand points, that's .. almost two packets of Kool-Aid per day! How have you not died of cancer induced by all the artificial colors and flavors, or at least contracted diabetes from all of that sugar?"

Well yes, yes we would have, had we been collecting these points in the United States. But no, we were in fact living in Swaziland, Africa, for the duration of those years, and while they do have Kool-Aid and thus Kool-Aid points in Swaziland, they do not, in fact, have the Kool-Aid Wacky Warehouse for people to spend them at. This means then, that points there mean nothing, and thus, for some reason I can't quite grasp, Kool-Aid decided to put MORE POINTS on each packet - instead of 1 point, there were anywhere between 5 and 8 points. On a box, instead of 3-5 points, there were 15-20. WE'RE RICH! (not that we were really thinking about this at the time; it's a good thing our dad is a pack rat, or we never would have clipped and saved all of those darn things!)

"But that's cheating - why would Kool-Aid accept foreign Kool-Aid points?" And that's exactly what I thought. So I called them up, and after 30 minutes of waiting on hold, I asked someone if they accepted international Kool-Aid points. "Yes", was the response, "as long as they say 'X number of points', and have the Kool-Aid man on them", which, of course, the Swazi Kool-Aid points did! And so it came to pass, in 6-8 weeks, the joy that is Mario Paint entered into our lives, and we were forever changed.

1In this writeup, I've capitalized everything relatively sanely, I think. KRAFT, who owns trademarks on KOOL-AID, KOOL-AID POINTS, KOOL-AID KOOLPOINTS, and many other things, seems to like to capitalize things a lot, like JELL-O and MIRACLE WHIP. I don't, so I've spared you the agony of trying to read that mess.

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