Fizzies was a favorite childhood drink, introduced in 1957 and sold until 2016.
Ruth Millard invented the idea for Emerson Drug Company, manufacturer of Bromo-Seltzer. She added fruit flavors to the compound to disguise the flavor of the medicine. She soon realized that children got a kick out of the flavor and the bubbles it created. Of course, Fizzies was simply a drink with no medicinal value. Lem Billings, vice-president of the Emerson Drug Company was a good friend of President John F Kennedy, shares credit for the invention of Fizzies.
The new carbonated, flavored wafers that were activated when dropped in water was named Fizzies. The new drink was introduced in the Baltimore region in 1957. In 1962, the Emerson Drug Company was purchased by Warner-Lambert which launched national marketing that year.
In the 1950s and 1960s, Fizzies were sold in grape, orange, cherry, lemon-line, strawberry, root beer and cola. By 1968, Fizzies grew nationally and internationally and more than doubled Kool-Aid sales.
Fizzies gone, back, and gone again
As some artificial sweeteners were banned by the FDA, Fizzies was discontinued until the mid-90s. The Fizzies brand reappeared in the 2000s. Previously owned and manufactured by Amerilab Technologies in Plymouth, Minnesota, Fizzies Drink Tablets were available in candy stores and through online retailers. In 2012, Fizzies were available in nine flavors: lemonade, root beer, cherry, orange, blue razz, hot cocoa, hot apple cider, cherry cola, and grape. They were marketed to Baby Boomers as a nostalgic drink to their generation. In February or March of 2016, Fizzies was again discontinued.
Fizzies advertising and movie stardom
Fizzies sponsored NBC TV’s “The Shari Lewis Show. Shari pitched the product as a part of her show.
Point of purchase displays featuring John Payne of NBC and ABC’s short-lived western series, “The Restless Gun.” (1957-1959) The displays had a message that said, “Howdy Pardner, Ride with me every Monday night on The Restless Gun.”
In 1978, Fizzies made the movies and became a cult icon in National Lampoon’s Animal House. Set in 1962, one of the movie’s scenes Dean Wormer recalled the incident when Delta House fraternity dumped a truckload if Fizzies into the pool during a swim meet.
The problem with boys, girls, and Fizzies
If you were a brother and sister, Fizzies were great. But if you were all girls or all boys, there was going to be a fight. Fizzies had pictures of a girl or a boy stamped into the Fizzies tablet. As kids do, the boys didn’t want to drink the “girl” Fizzie and the girls didn’t want to drink the “boy” Fizzies. Of course, that was all before gender neutrality.