Kraft Foods is set to unveil a new personality for Kool-Aid, its 93-year-old drink mix that has permeated American culture like a soluble powder dissolving in water. The marketing campaign will refashion Kool-Aid Man—the anthropomorphic pitcher best known for breaking down walls and shouting, “Oh yeah!”—as a more personable and relatable character.
To that end, Kool-Aid Man will be transformed from a guy in a foam suit to a computer-generated image, assuming the personality of a celebrity who just wants to be seen as normal. ”I put my pants on one leg at a time,” he says in one commercial. “Except my pants are 22 different flavors. I’ve got grape pants, I’ve got watermelon pants.”
Kool-Aid man was introduced in 1954. He is a beloved character, in some ways, but his mannerisms can come off as creepy, and his penchant for entering rooms without using the door is sometimes unwelcome, the subject of a running gag on the TV show Family Guy. “He really didn’t have a developed personality,” Erica Rendell, senior brand manager at Kraft Foods, acknowledged to the Associated Press.
Drink mixes, including Kool-Aid, have seen declining sales lately, but they remain popular among African-Americans and Hispanics. New competitors include Krafts Foods’s own MiO and Coca-Cola’s Dasani Drops, which are liquid flavorings. Kool-Aid, which itself began as a syrup called Fruit Smack in 1920, shows its age next to those brands. It also can’t help that “drinking the Kool-Aid” has come to mean, in American parlance, mindlessly following a dogma, after followers of a cult in Guyana killed themselves with cyanide mixed in a powdered fruit drink.
The new Kool-Aid Man may be more like someone you’d enjoy having a beer with, but his rebranding may just leave Americans nostalgic for the pitcher of fruit juice they knew as children, whom you can fondly remember in the ads below.
More from Quartz