Lots of interesting things were invented in our home state of Nebraska. Yes, we’re the creators of vise grip locking pliers, frozen TV dinners, collapsable voting booths, and center pivot irrigation. Perhaps our biggest claim to fame, however, is the fruit-flavored, powdered soft drink that known around the world as Kool-Aid.

Our daughter, Meghan, took her turn at the Kool-Aid stand photo booth at the Hastings Museum.

Our daughter, Meghan, took her turn at the Kool-Aid stand photo booth at the Hastings Museum.

That’s right. Kool-Aid was invented by Edwin Perkins in Hastings, Nebraska. Perkins had initially created a fruit-flavored drink called Fruit Smack. But in 1927, in an effort to reduce shipping costs, he discovered a way to remove the liquid, leaving only a powder.

These Kool-Aid man costumes were are display at the Hastings Museum.

These Kool-Aid man costumes were are display at the Hastings Museum.

He named the new powder Kool-Aid and moved production to Chicago in 1931. Eventually, the brand was sold to General Foods and is now owned by Kraft. However, Hastings still celebrates Perkins and this childhood favorite with an annual summer festival called Kool-Aid Days on the second weekend in August. They also help commemorate Perkins’ achievements with an exhibit in the Hastings Museum, which we visited this summer.

It was our very first trip to the museum and we found it a delightful way to spend an hour or two on a hot summer day in Nebraska.

According to the museum’s website, the Hastings Museum was founded in 1927 and is the largest municipal museum between Chicago and Denver. The museum features a theater with a 65-foot

It was interesting to animal species in their natural habitats.

It was interesting to animal species in their natural habitats at the museum.

wide screen and large domed Planetarium. It houses taxidermy displays dozens of animal species set in their natural habitats, allowing you to get an up close look at many amazing creatures!

The museum also chronicles the history of the early inhabitants of the Nebraska plains, from paleo-Indians to euro-Americans, while providing a look back at the creatures that used to roam this area and swim in Cretaceous Sea.

Our favorite part of the museum, though, was the nod to Kool-Aid. It was fun to walk through the exhibit and read all about the history of Perkins’ invention and look back at all of the advertising and marketing campaigns that were so prominent in our childhoods. We learned that the original six Kool-Aid flavors were Cherry, Grape, Lemon-Lime, Orange, Raspberry, Strawberry — my favorite is Cherry and as I recall, it produced the best Kool-Aid mustache/smile.

Kool-Aid marketing was everywhere when I was a kid. Lunch boxes, Barbie dolls, sno-cone machines. etc.

Kool-Aid marketing was everywhere when I was a kid. Lunch boxes, Barbie dolls, sno-cone machines. etc.

I remembered the Kool-Aid lunchbox and round pitchers that everyone used to have. We were also reminded of the make-shift Kool-Aid stands we had as kids and enjoyed watching all of the old Kool-Aid commercials that feature a large, anthropomorphic pitcher filled with Kool-Aid randomly busting through fences and walls of children’s homes to make a batch of Kool-Aid.

Here’s a little trip down memory lane in case you can’t remember who awkward those commercials really were.

Maybe it’s just me, but some of these seem a little creepy to me now. But back in the day, there was nothing quite like seeing that giant pitcher of Kool-Aid burst through the wall at the most unsuspecting moment with that shout of, “Oh, yeah.” These commercials took me back.

Today, you can buy Kool-Aid as a powder, jammer, burst, or liquid. A simple search on Pinterest will give you dozens of ideas on other ways to use Kool-Aid, including everything from dying t-shirts and and making scented play-doh, to using it as a watercolor paint or a dishwasher cleaner. I even found a recipe for Kool-Aid slime!

Found this recipe for Kool-Aid slime at www.growingajeweledrose.com

Found this recipe for Kool-Aid slime at www.growingajeweledrose.com

What unique uses have you found for Kool-Aid? Let us know. We’d love to hear from you.

  • On the Caribbean island of St. Kitts, there is a point where you round a bend and see this view, with the Atlantic Ocean on the left, and the Caribbean Sea on the right. ⁣
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Ann took this photo several years ago when we visited St. Kitts for a day while on a cruise in the Caribbean. ⁣
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We met our friend, Mikey Tross, on the island and with the help of a local driver and guide, we toured the entire island in a day. ⁣
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We climbed to the top of Brimstone Hills, saw the beaches, at at Fredo's (a local restaurant) and toured Caribelle  Batik at Romney Manor. ⁣
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St. Kitts is a beautiful island and the people there are incredibly generous. If you haven't already been there, add St. Kitts to your bucket list.
  • The Grinnell, Iowa, Chamber of Commerce offices are located in a former bank designed by famed architect, Louis Sullivan. The architect built a series of "Jewel Box" banks, called that because they resemble jewel boxes.⁣
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These buildings are intricate in detail and rich in their finishes. The next time you pass near Grinnell, it is definitely worth the stop to step into American architectural history.
  • In downtown Kearney, Nebraska, you'll find @mccuesnebraskataproom, home to all sorts of Nebraska libations. When you visit, you can choose from a large selection of beers, wines, and even liquors all made in Nebraska. It's a fun environment where regulars welcome visitors, and fun is had by all. We look forward to going back one day and know that a visit to McCue's will be a part of our visits to Kearney in the future. ⁣
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@visitnebraska @visitkearney
  • A rite of passage...⁣
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The Swinging Bridge in Pawhuska, Oklahoma, has thrilled residents and visitors alike for decades. When it was originally built in 1929, it was the only way to cross from one side of Bird Creek to the other. Today, there are other bridges, but the beloved swinging bridge still spans the creek and dares folks to cross.⁣
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Long-time residents will tell stories of rieding their bikes across it when they were kids--and it should be noted that back then it didn't have the chain link side guards.⁣
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No visit to Pawhuska is complete until you've tried The Pioneer Woman's chicken fried steak AND crossed the swinging bridge. Go ahead and try...we dare you!⁣
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@TravelOK @VisitTheOsage
  • While looking for a coffee shop in @visitkearney, we stumbled into a really cool store. @elevate.people is a locally owned business specializing in both leather goods and in helping people around the world build better lives for themselves. ⁣
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All of the leather goods for sale here are handmade by people in third world countries. Elevate, it turns out, is a non-profit that gives local artisans small, low interest loans to get started in the leather making business. When loans are repaid, the money is loaned out to another craftsperson so they can get started. Meanwhile, Elevate provides access to a market to sell the goods produced so the worker continues to be supported. They also have an online store.⁣
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We have purchased several items from Elevate, and have loved all of them.⁣
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@visitnebraska
  • After a day of tests and appointments at the Mayo Clinic, this was a perfect place to relax and unwind.⁣
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We were treated to a complimentary stay at the brand new Hilton in downtown @minnesotas_rochester. Located near the Mayo Clinic, it's an incredibly beautiful hotel with nothing but the best amenities and top-notch service. One of our favorite places in the hotel is the hot tub in the pool area. How can it not be? Look at this place. And yes, it's as relaxing as it looks, especially at sunset. ⁣
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The room in this new luxury hotel are just as nice. We enjoyed it so much that we changed our travel plans and booked a second night on our own dime. It's our new go-to hotel in Rochester, Minnesota.⁣
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@minnesotas_rochester @exploreminnesota @hiltonhotels
  • Our hosted food tour in @visitkansascityks began with a bar-b-que spread from several local restaurants. Needless to say, we had to sample a little bit of everything because it was for science. We enjoyed ribs, smoked sausage, brisket, pulled pork, smoked turkey, burnt ends, rice, beans, and even warm potato casserole. ⁣
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If you love bar-b-que, head to KCK. Trust us, you'll love it. Just wear your stretchy pants.
  • Steve writes: When I first set my eyes on the outside of the Sagrada Familia Cathedral in Barcelona, I was unimpressed. In fact, I thought it was plain ugly. Construction continued, and I returned several times over the years, each time finding more to like about it. Finally, on a visit with Ann, the inside of the Cathedral was open for a visit. So we went inside.⁣
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Architect Antonin Gaudi's creation is brilliant. The way he uses stained glass to bring color to the stone inside, combined with the shadows created by the shape of the stone is breathtaking. Truly, this cathedral might be the most impressive one I've seen anywhere. This place should be on your bucket list. It's worth a trip to Barcelona to see it.

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