In a small town in Hastings, Nebraska, there lived a man named Edwin Perkins. From a very young age, Mr. Perkins had an entrepreneur spirit and a drive that made him succeed when others would have given up. He was one of 10 children, was raised with the belief that hard work pays off. Mr. Perkins applied that work ethic until he created a powdered drink that would be a household name, even 75 later.
In 1927, Mr. Perkins created a drink called Kool Aid. The original flavors were strawberry, cherry, lemon-lime, grape, orange and raspberry. Kool Aid was produced in a factory located at 506-508 West 1st Street, Hastings, Nebraska. It was a family affair because all his children, his wife, Kitty, and his brothers and sisters worked in the plant. Even his parents would come to work everyday to help with the production and packaging of the product.
The road to Kool Aid success was not an easy one. For many years, Edwin Perkins would try different formulas to get his powder just right. Once he completed that, packaging the powder was challenging. He tried so many different ways to seal the sugary powder into different envelopes, different sizes and different packaging designs. Finally he was able to create a package that didn’t leak, sealed properly and had a bright colored design on the outside. Now his challenge became marketing his product to consumers.
Mr. Perkins sold the product by walking into retail grocery stores in Hastings, Nebraska, and surrounding towns by speaking to the owner. There were many retailers that didn’t think Kool Aid would sell and turned Mr. Perkins away. After some convincing and people started talking about the fruity drink that could be made with very little money, grocers and retailers would stock his product. Mr. Perkins needed help with marketing his product across the United States and he created a business plan for salesman that stated “for a $3.50 investment, you can sell Kool Aid and make thousands.” Mr. Perkins soon had hundreds of salesman marketing his product – one store at a time.
By the early 1950s, Kool Aid was in every household and loved by children as well as adults. Later, Mr. Perkins sold Kool Aid to General Foods and in 1970; Kool Aid was sold to Kraft Foods. In 1975, Kraft Foods created the first costume for the famous Kool Aid pitcher, turning the famous frosty pitcher into the “Kool Aid Man.” This was a brilliant idea since the Kool Aid Man could now be seen in commercials, as well as in person at events that helped promote Kool Aid. Kool Aid Man continued to evolve with the changing times by adding pants to his costume and he is still considered the most beloved and most popular mascot in history.
Every August in Hastings, Nebraska, there is a celebration where Kool Aid was born with a weekend long festival with the Kool Aid Man himself in attendance. Even though he is almost 80 years old, he can still bring a smile to all the kids and the adults in Hastings, Nebraska, as well as around the globe.
When you think of vineyards located in the United States, most people think of California. That’s not uncommon, since 90% of all US wine comes from the vineyards in California. But what about wine from a region that faces freezing winters with several feet of snow? Is it really possible to produce wine from vineyards located where the harsh winters can kill most plants? The answer is an enthusiastic yes! Nebraska is home to over 21 wineries and close to 300 vineyards.
Although most wines comes from the warmer climates, special dessert wines or “ice wines” can be harvested in the middle of winter while the grapes are still frozen and snow is piled high around every vine and branch. Nebraska has many vineyards sprinkled across Interstate 80 and well as vineyards off the beaten path. Hearty grapes are grown with specific intentions of harvesting after mother-nature has turned this beautiful landscape into a winter’s paradise. Even when the temperature fall below -20 degrees, it is now possible for wine enthusiasts living in colder states, like north Nebraska, to foster their love of winemaking the entire year.
Cuthill Vineyards is the first vineyard in Nebraska starting almost 20 years ago. Ed Swanson is the owner and has been working over the past several years developing a new hybrid grape that will stand up to the traditional grapes used in warmer climates. This will lead to flavorful wines from grapes that can be grown in the challenging climate conditions of the Midwest. He has created 60 new grape varieties and says that there are more to come. Ed Swanson is committed to producing grapes hearty enough to survive the weather in the Midwest and compete with the other vineyards on the balmy west coast.
Nebraska has seen many more vineyards open over the last decade. One of the largest vineyards in Nebraska is Feather River, located in North Platte. This vineyard is over 35 acres and produces rich, full bodied red wines like St. Croix, Marquette and Frontenac as well as crisp white wines and sweet Rieslings.
Schilling Bridge Winery, located in Pawnee City, is by far the most unique of all the vineyards and wineries in Nebraska. This facility offers high quality Nebraska wine as well as hand crafted microbrews. “Bridging the gap between wine and beer enthusiasts” is their motto. This is the first and only Nebraska microbrewery. Their own label Git-R-Done Golden Lager is made from all natural ingredients grown and harvested in Nebraska for a true, authentic “local” flavor.
So when you think of wine, remember that California isn’t the only place to buy excellent wine. Nebraska wines will be a delicious alternative. Wine making in the state of Nebraska has come a long way in the last 20 years. Despite the chilling winters, your passion for owning a thriving vineyard is possible – even in a state like Nebraska.
You don’t get a name like “Cornhusks” without being one of the leading states in corn/grain production. The soil in Nebraska has been farmed since prehistoric times. During the 1800s Native Americans mostly hunted buffalo and other large animals, yet the soil was so rich, it produced an abundance of food. Farmers in the early 1900s weathered droughts and insect infestations but were able to turn things around in the mid-1900s to lead Nebraska into one of the top producing states for agriculture.
Top income producing industries for Nebraska include:
The livestock production is more than 2/3 of Nebraska farm income, which includes beef cattle and hogs. With over 2 million heads of beef cows, the state was also nicknamed the “Beef State.” During the 1950s to mid-1960s, this was printed and included on the license plates for the state of Nebraska. In fact, agriculture is Nebraska’s dominate occupational pursuit.
Since this state has the largest output of cattle, it makes sense that corn and grain is produced to feed the high number of livestock. Most of the farms found in Nebraska today include corn/grain crops. Record production for corn is higher in 2009 than in previous years. Farmers are becoming more efficient and are able to produce more crops with less water and fertilizer, which is excellent for the environment.
Omaha is home to several key financial enterprises:
- First National Bank of Omaha
- Mutual of Omaha Insurance Companies
- TD Ameritrade
First National Bank of Omaha is the largest privately owned bank with $21 billion dollars in assets. Mutual of Omaha was founded in 1909 and last year celebrated 100 years of service. TD Ameritrade is a broker service offering online trading.
Omaha is also the home to 3 of the world’s largest architectural and engineering firms, Leo A. Daly Co., HDR, Inc. and DLR Group. Several Fortune 500 companies are based in Omaha, including Berkshire Hathaway, headed by Warren Buffett who is considered to be the richest man in the world.
As for living in Nebraska, 89% of the cities are less than 3,000 people. Omaha and the capital of Nebraska, Lincoln, are the top cities with 438,000 and over 300,000 respectively. Bellevue, the third largest city in Nebraska has a population of less than 100,000, a significant decline.
It’s a safe bet to say that if someone chooses to live in Nebraska, the larger cities offer plenty of wealth, finance and people where the smaller cities offer wide open spaces with plenty of cattle to keep them company.
Tornadoes are powerful and deadly. They can wipe out an entire city in a matter of minutes. Everything in your home can be ripped apart and scattered for several miles. This is a force that should not be reckoned with. In the state of Nebraska, tornadoes are common. During the spring and summer months, they are a sobering part of daily life.
When the cooler weather from the Rocky Mountains combines with the warmer weather from the Gulf of Mexico and then becomes mixed with a storm system, this is a recipe for disaster. Tornadoes are formed when the warmer and cooler air mix and begin to circulate. This spinning is created in a storm cloud which becomes a funnel. Once the funnel touches the ground it is a tornado. Most tornadoes in Nebraska are EF2 or EF3, Enhanced Fujita Scale ranging from mild (EF1) to extreme (EF5). On Easter Sunday in 1913, seven tornadoes hit the state of Nebraska. These tornadoes killed over 130 people. Some of them were EF5, with winds up to 200 miles per hour and stretching from Nebraska to neighboring states.
Nebraska is most prone to tornadoes from April thru June. During this time, tornadoes are most likely to form in Tornado Alley, a group of stated in the middle of the U.S. ranging from north Texas thru Nebraska to the lower part of South Dakota. Although tornadoes can occur anywhere in the U.S., this particular area of the country experiences hundreds of tornadoes during this time period. Nebraska alone weathers dozens of violent storms during this time frame.
The top 3 deadliest tornadoes in Nebraska were on March 23, 1913, sticking in the following cities:
- Omaha – 101 dead
- Yutan – 20 dead
- Berlin – 13 dead
From these storms listed above, the largest stretched ¼ mile wide, traveling 40 miles, clearing away and leveling any structure that was in its path.
Tornadoes are so unpredictable it is impossible to know when or where they will strike. Storm Chasers in Nebraska can follow the storms and see when a storm will begin to turn into a tornado but it is impossible to know which direction it will travel. This makes it difficult to determine which area of Nebraska will be less likely to become affected by tornadoes.
So what does this mean for anyone traveling to or living in Nebraska? Learning to protect yourself during a tornado is crucial. When the weather starts to turn stormy, a tornado watch goes into effect. When a tornado warning is issued, that means a tornado has been spotted and you need to take cover. The safest place to be during a tornado is underground, or in the basement. If you can’t go underground, a room in your house that has no windows, such as a closet, is best. You want to stay away from any windows to avoid broken glass. Then stay put until the storm passes.
In 1927, in Hastings, Nebraska, Edwin Perkins developed a powdered substance that when mixed with sugar and water, would create a fruity tasty drink loved by children and adults. Nearly 500 million gallons are consumed every year worldwide. This drink is a household name and continues to be in nearly every pantry across the globe. It’s called Kool Aid.
Now, Edwin Perkins not only created this drink, he did something remarkable at the same time. He created several marketing techniques that are still used today with great success. Once Kool Aid was ready to be marketed to local retail stores in Hastings, Nebraska, and surrounding towns, Mr. Perkins developed several key ways to sell and display his product.
First he sent a mailing to 500 brokers soliciting salesmen that could “Earn $10 per day.” He had secured many district managers who were given the authority to hire salespeople. He would send out postcards stating that any hard worker could succeed as a Perkins Agent when they invested $3.50 for a sales kit. These salespeople would go door to door selling their product and they would also walk into candy and retail stores with their kit and sell directly to the owner of the establishment. This was done across the nation and soon Kool Aid was on its way to being inside every home.
The most famous marketing technique Mr. Perkins developed was the display stand. At the time, Kool Aid was considered a ‘seasonal’ product. It was a drink enjoyed on hot summer days. Mr. Perkins was very sharp with marketing concepts and needed to develop something that allowed this consumable product to be purchased in the off season. He had designed a vibrantly colored cardboard display box which would showcase all the convenient packages in a colorful way. This display box was put on the counters and people noticed it immediately. The attraction was so cheerful it was easy to see how it drew customers to its display and made it easy to buy. This technique was dubbed as the “Silent Salesman” and worked perfectly. This idea alone helped put Kool Aid on the map with very little capital.
In 1929, just a few years after developing the Kool Aid formula, Mr. Perkins sent a sample packet with a brochure to 500 brokers. This brochure explained the cash bonus compensation of 5% for every grocery store distribution. By the end of the year, over 90 distributers were on board to with this amazing compensation package.
During the Great Depression, sugar became a rationed item and was not used as freely as before. Mr. Hastings had done something radical – he lowered the price of Kool Aid by 50%. At the time, Kool Aid was pretty cheap at 10 cents per packet. Now it was sold at 5 cents per packet and even during the Great Depression, families still could afford a nickel for the “luxury” of Kool Aid. According to a 1956 article in Advertising Age the price cut was “a daring gamble that made the company.” The demand for Kool Aid increased during this time and forced Edwin to move his company from Hastings, Nebraska to Chicago.
Mr. Perkins was not only a great inventor but a marketing genius. He personally took Kool Aid from a formula he created in his mother’s kitchen in Hastings, Nebraska, to a worldwide phenomenon.