What DID Jim Jones Put the Cyanide In?

Just read a New Yorker piece mentioning the “Kool-Aid” that the Peoples’ Temple folks laced with cyanide. But I remember reading years ago it was not Kool-Aid, but some cheap knock-off. I googled, and found everything from “grape juice” to “orange juice,” but no real answer.


As I recall from pictures I saw at the time, there were packet of Flav-R-Aid. Not as many people know about this, and it sounds like “Kool Aid”, so it got the rap.

I’m pretty sure they’re still in business, but I’ll bet they wouldn’t be if their name hadn’t been so similar to the big K’s.

I was working in news back then, and I saw a lot of reports about the Peoples’ Temple suicides.

If I recall, the stories said that the adults had had taken their cyanide straight, and had given the children “grape drink” with cyanide in it. (Presumably some adults also drank the grape drink rather than swallowing pills or powder – I don’t recall ever reading what form the cyanide was in.)

Within days, the term “Kool-Aid” was being informally used, but I don’t ever recall seeing an actual brand name in any of the accounts.

I almost always see “Kool-Aid,” though I am pretty sure, as CalMeacham says, it wasn’t. The New Yorker is so noted for its obsessive fact-checking, I’m surprised that got by!

I’ll bet the Kool-Aid people have a bone to pick with someone!

CalMeacham is correct, it was Flav-R-Aid, not Kool-Aid. Some photos of the scene showed empty containers of Flav-R-Aid.

Oh yeah!


Sheesh. What some companies won’t do for a little gratuitous product placement.

I have always been disappointed in the Kool-Aid people for not marketing “Gyana Grape”

One thing I’ve always wondered: Did any attendees NOT engage in the mass suicide?

Perhaps I’ll ask this in a seperate thread.

IIRC, they didn’t have much choice in the matter. If they didn’t drink the Flav-R-Aid, they got shot.

Were they? Admittedly its not something I’ve read about extensively, but I’ve never heard of “non-conformists” getting shot.

Who did the shooting? Did they get away scott free?

If I recall, maybe half-a-dozen people managed to escape by hiding in the woods. Everyone else either drank the poison willingly or were forced to.

What an interesting thread. Let me see if I can rememberize the circumstances surrounding this event. IIRC, the mass suicide came on the heels of the shooting of some politicians that went to the scene to check on the well-being of some of Jones’ followers. I also seem to remember that a few of the group actually escaped from the fiasco of the poison cocktail. The most memorable image I have of this horrific chapter in history is an aerial view of the camp that was aired on national news. For a chilling account of the entire thing, check out the movie, The Guyana Tragedy, starring Powers Boothe.

Looks like we’ve been misspelling the brand name: it was Fla-Vor-Aid (now Flavor Aid since 1997).

Court TV says, “Of the estimated 1100 people believed to have been present at ‘Jonestown’ at the time, 913 died, including Jim Jones, the rest somehow escaped into the jungle.”

The oldest and youngest survivors of the Jonestown massacre.

Jones had his hoods set up an armed perimeter to make sure everyone stayed for the big event. Most of the ones who got away slid in between the roving patrols.

That link has some spelling errors (which as by Gaudere’s Law I’m destined to have as well) but I think the description of the event is brief and fairly accurate.