On March 22, 1997, 39 members of Heaven’s Gate (21 women, 19 men) consumed phenobarbitol, some suffocating with plastic bags, and all dying by suicide. All were dressed exactly alike in black clothing, down to their black shoes with their identical white Nike check-mark logo. The 39 had packed tote bags and each had one $5 bill and 75 cents in quarters in their pockets. The deaths occurred in shifts, so those that remained could correctly arrange the bodies and place the purple triangular shrouds on the bodies. The police found the corpses at their Rancho Santa Fe, California compound on March 26, after being alerted by Richard Ford, an ex-member who has received a Federal Express package of two videotapes from [leader Marshall] Applewhite.
The specter of Jonestown filled the newspapers for years and produced a made‑for‑television movie called Guyana Tragedy: The Story of Jim Jones (1980), starring the then-new and unknown actor Powers Boothe in a highly acclaimed performance as Jones. The Jonestown event had other broad cultural outcomes besides creating a model for mass suicides. For example, despite the actual use of Flavor-aide, the media had quickly mislabeled what was used as “Kool Aid,” and worldwide sales of Kool Aid crashed. Another lasting linguistic legacy of the People’s Temple tragedy is the expression, “Don’t drink the Kool-Aid.” This has come to mean, “Don’t trust any group you find to be a little on the fanatical side.”
In 1979 Dan White was found guilty of “manslaughter by diminished capacity,” despite opening arguments by attorney Doug Schmidt that linked Jonestown to the assassinations. Many still believe that the reason White was not convicted of first degree murder was because of what most of the media reported as the “Twinkie defense” – a phrase coined by well-known satirist Paul Krassner - that junk food had made White do it. While it was in reality HoHos and Ding Dongs, White’s defense claimed that his love of junk food was the result of his depression, not the cause of it.
"America loves labels," said Dr. Alan Dundes, UC Berkeley professor of anthropology and folklore. He compares our belief in the "Twinkie defense" to the conviction that George Washington cut down the cherry tree. He didn't. Folklore trumps history.
"I don't care if the 'Twinkie defense' has any validity or not," he said. "People think it was a factor. And thinking makes it so." Source.