This building is known locally as the birthplace of Kool-Aid. More accurately, it was the home of the Perkins Products Company, the manufacturing and retail enterprise of Kool-Aid inventor, Edwin E. Perkins and his family. The company was housed here from 1923 until 1931, when the firm moved to Chicago to expand production of Kool-Aid.
The building itself is unremarkable, but the story of Edwin Perkins is extraordinary. As a young boy in Hendley, Nebraska, he was fascinated with chemistry, printing and products like Jell-O, which was sold in his father's general store.
When Mr. Perkins came to Hastings at age thirty-one in 1920, his principal interests were patent medicines and household products. With that background, he began producing a line of over 125 "Onor-Maid" items which were sold door -to-door and by mail. One of the most popular was "Fruit-Smack," a fruit flavored liquid concentrate.
By 1927, he had developed a powdered soft drink mix called Kool-Ade, which he packaged in envelopes and sold in grocery stores. Demand for this product was so great that it soon had international sales. Before long, the Perkins Products Company was focusing entirely on Kool-Ade, and in 1931 Mr. Perkins relocated to Chicago. By 1934, the name was changed to Kool-Aid. The company was sold to General Foods in 1953.
Kool-Aid went on to become a household name and made Edwin Perkins a wealthy man. But the Perkins family remembered its Nebraska roots, donating generously to philanthropies in Adams County and elsewhere in the state. Among local gifts were Perkins Recital Hall and Perkins Library at Hastings College and Perkins Pavilion at Good Samaritan Village. Edwin Perkins and wife Kitty are buried at Parkview Cemetery in Hastings.