Okay, friends, you asked for it, you got it.
The single most requested item that I cover over the time that I Remember JFK has been in existence is Fizzies.
Unfortunately, I, for some bizarre reason, have no recollection of Fizzies. That has been what has held me back from writing about them. However, a recent traffic blast (thanks, wired.com) has brought in a host of new visitors, and I received another handful of Fizzies requests.
You have to keep the customer happy, right? So, without further ado, here is I Remember JFK’s article on Fizzies.
It all started sometime in the 1950’s. Nobody seems to know exactly when. But the who is indisputable: the Emerson Drug Company.
Emerson had an extremely successful product on their hands: Bromo-Seltzer. It was (and still is) a wonderful antacid powder that fizzes like crazy when added to water. Bromo had been around forever, but the developers at Emerson wanted to push it to new heights by giving it fruity flavor.
The results were less than spectacular, but all that research and development didn’t go to waste. Enter Fizzies.
There is something very mystical about watching a dry substance dropped into water and seeing it begin to fizz. It touches us deeply in the soul, in places that itch that we are not even aware need to be scratched. Ergo, the success of Bromo, Alka-Seltzer, and a host of other products that provide us with the soul-satisfying fizz.
The R&D gang at Emerson saw a potential outlet for their fruity flavors: kids.
With that, Fizzies, compressed into easier-to-package tablet form, hit the shelves in 1957.
They did well, but sales exploded in the 60’s. Soon, they were on the shelves of candy stores in two forms: a pack of eight, and individual tablets in the penny candy section.
Man, why don’t I remember these? my guess is that Moonwink Grocery must not have seen fit to carry them. Perhaps they weren’t available in northeast Oklahoma.
But the rest of the USA went nuts over them. Kids would mix them in water (sometimes two different flavors at once), or, on a dare, might pop the tablet into their mouth to create a human volcano of fizz.
Parents were aghast of such doings, warning their children that swallowing a Fizzy may well cause a stomach explosion.
Indeed, parents were the target of Fizzy magazine ads as well. Fizzies used cyclamate as a sweetener, therefore making for a guilt-free sweet treat for weight-conscious adults.
By 1969, Fizzies’ popularity was at its peak. Enter the federal government.
The cyclamate ban of 1969 put many of the brand names that we grew up with out of business, including Fizzies. Emerson held on as long as they could, trying in vain to market a version that required sugar and ice, but Fizzies were done.
Nutrasweet’s introduction made for a short-lived resurrection of the Fizzies brand in the early 1990’s. But the magic was gone.
Nowadays, Fizzies have been brought back yet again with Sucralose sweetener.
But, if you don’t mind, I would prefer a time capsule, so that I could march into Moonwink Grocery in 1968 and ask Mark, the owner, “Where are the Fizzies that kids all over the country are going nuts over?”