drink the Kool-Aid

This is a rather common American slang phrase. Those who drink the Kool-Aid exhibit unswerving loyalty to and belief in their leaders. This figurative use has been around since the mid-1980s.

Kool-Aid is a brand name for a soft drink mix that is popular among American children, but the allusion is actually a much grimmer one. In 1978, Jim Jones, the leader of the People’s Temple, a San Francisco cult that had recently moved to the jungles of Guyana, ordered his people to commit suicide. 914 cult members died, including 276 children and Jones himself. Most killed themselves by drinking a grape drink laced with cyanide and sedatives. (It may not have actually been Kool-Aid brand that was used, but as the most popular brand that was the name that stuck in the public consciousness.) Most of those who refused to commit suicide were executed, either shot or killed with lethal injection.

Hence, to drink the Kool-Aid is to show cult-like devotion to one’s leaders.

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