In 1900 at age 11, Edwin was working at his father’s store in the village of Hendley, Nebraska when his childhood friend and future wife, Kathryn Melda "Kitty" Shoemaker, introduced him to a powder product called "Jell-O". This later inspired him at age 38 to make his own pre-packaged food, expanding his by-then already successful career.
On February 12, 1909, he also put the printing press to another good use by publishing the local weekly newspaper, the Hendley Delphic. He continued that "business" for four years after he graduated high school.
In 1921, the Perkins Product Company started the "Onor-Maid" (sounds like Honor Maid) line of products. Perkins was manufacturing and selling more than a 125 different items, ranging from lotions, medicines, soaps, food flavorings, jelly-making products, and fruit drink concentrates.
A powdered drink was more appealing to consumers, and in 1927 Perkins’ company created Kool-Ade, later renamed Kool-Aid. Perkins first produced Kool-Aid in this building on West First Street in Hastings, Nebraska.
For more information please see the Hastings Museum website.
These sales representatives or "jobbers" also did the distributing. They made use of the self-selling "silent salesman" to help them do their work. The silent salesman was a small, simple, cardboard case in which Kool-Aid packages were displayed in popular areas of the store.
Kool-Aid even reached the men and women on the front lines during World War II with Kool-Aid lemonade mix included in their ration kits.
In 1953 when Perkins was 64 years old, he sold his company to the General Foods Corporation. After their retirement, Edwin and Kitty Perkins still considered Hastings their home and were buried there, Edwin in 1961 and Kitty in 1977. They gave a great deal back to the community through donations to Hastings College, Lanning Hospital, and other favorite institutions.