This article is all about Fizzies drink tablets; a flavored effervescent tablet dropped in water to produce a sweet, fizzy soft drink.
Who invented Fizzies?
Fizzies were invented in 1957 by Ruth Millard of the Emerson Drug Company as a spin-off to the Seltzer effervescent drugs.
Lem Billings, a chemist, and vice-president of the Emerson Drug Company, also shares credit for the invention of this pop-drink sensation.
The company figured that they could add flavor to the effervescent drug concept, and eventually, Fizzies came into production in more than six different flavors.
The Fizzies product was first sold nationally in 1962 after Warner-Lambert took over the Emerson Drug Company.
Scientists working for Emerson on the Bromo-Seltzer and Alka-Seltzer effervescent concept came up with the idea of Fizzies when they figured they could market it as a candy concept to children.
This came after Ruth Millard had experimented with adding flavors to the effervescent tablets to disguise the sodium citrate’s bitter, chemical taste in the medicinal tablets.
Not long after she had achieved this wondrous feat, she discovered that children loved the flavors, so the idea for Fizzies was born.
It transpired to be the first time that a drug company had produced a product with absolutely no medicinal value whatsoever.
Scientists experimented with adding just the right combinations of sweetener of cyclamates, citric acid, fruit flavoring, and sodium bicarbonate to produce the Fizzies tablet.
This new concept was introduced in the Baltimore region in 1957.
By the time the 1960s rolled around, the product was being sold nationally, and the fizzy-drink fad exploded onto the American pop-drink scene in seven fabulous flavors: orange, cherry, grape, lemon-lime, strawberry, root beer, and cola.
Fizzies became so popular that they became a cultural icon of their time and were featured in the movie National Lampoon’s Animal House, set in 1962, and featuring as one of the sponsors for The Shari Lewis Show on NBC-TV in the 1960s.
Are Fizzies still made?
Fizzies have cycled in and out of production since their invention in the late 1950s by the Emerson Drug Company. In general, Fizzies have gone out of production either due to FDA regulations or to manufacturers going out of business.
After enjoying a successful run of production from 1962-1968 that made them nationally and internationally famous and, at one stage, more popular than Kool-Aid, the FDA banned the use of cyclamates as an artificial sweetener in 1968.
This was after it was found that they caused certain kinds of cancer in laboratory testing animals.
This meant that Fizzies had to cease production and wouldn’t be available on the market again for nearly 25 years.
The drink tablets made a resurgence onto the market in the mid-1990s when Premiere Innovations Inc. reintroduced Fizzies with NutraSweet (the trademarked name for their artificial sweetener neotame).
The company marketed Fizzies as “Instant Sparkling Drink Tablets” that were rich in Vitamin C.
The drink slowly began to shy out of popularity once more until Fizzies made another resurgence in the early 2000s, being marketed as a ‘nostalgic’ drink to baby boomers by a company called American Technologies.
This resurgence, however, did not carry enough weight to see them make a full rise to their former glory, and they slowly started to fade in popularity once more.
In 2016, the FDA banned their production once again, and, much to many baby boomers’ dismay, they have not come back into production again since.
How were Fizzies made?
The original Fizzies tablets were made by adding the artificial sweeteners cyclamates and saccharin to medicinal effervescent tablets that the Emerson Drug Company was producing in the 1960s.
After Fizzies became a product on their own, marketed as a soft-drink and a candy product, the fruit flavoring was added to give Fizzies their array of eight different fizzy flavors.
Scientists working on the effervescent drug concept in the Emerson labs discovered that artificial sweeteners could be added to the tablets in order to hide their bitter, chemical, sodium citrate taste.
Once it was discovered that children loved the artificially sweetened flavor, more artificial fruit flavoring was added, and so the concept of Fizzies was born: a fruit-flavored, effervescent soda-pop drink derived from a medicinal tablet but with no medicinal value whatsoever – just pure, fizzy, soda-pop fun!
Who were Fizzies made for?
Fizzies were originally made for children after it was discovered that children loved their taste and flavor after artificial sweeteners had been added to Seltzer type effervescent medications.
The artificial sweeteners had originally been added as a ‘sweet’ disguise to the bitter taste of the effervescent’ sodium citrate ingredient.
However, after the concept of a sweet fizzy tablet took off amongst children, the concept of the soda-pop Fizzies tablet was born and soon swept across America as a fizzy-drink product of their own in the early 1960s.
Although originally made-for and inspired by children, Fizzies soon became a family favorite and were enjoyed in eight different flavors.
Although Fizzies were meant to be consumed by placing the effervescent tablet in a glass of water and waiting for the tablet to fizz, or effervesce, and produce its full-flavored soda-pop fizziness, Fizzies were sometimes consumed by children by placing the tablet directly onto their tongues and letting the Fizzies tablet fizz in their mouths.
Fizzies were therefore consumed either as a beverage or as a candy.
Where can I buy Fizzies tablets?
Fizzies were in production from 1957-1968 and again from the mid-1990s through to 2016.
Although Fizzies have sadly ended their production due to a spate of FDA regulations clamping down on the use of artificial sweeteners, you can still buy Fizzies online at stores like Amazon and eBay.
It is fair to say that Fizzies sparked a cultural revolution in the soda-pop industry after they became more than doubly as popular as Kool-Aid in the 1960s in terms of sales.
Primarily enjoyed in their heyday by the baby-boomer generation, Fizzies are now fondly remembered by this generation as the fizzy drink that made every summer holiday!
Fizzies will go down in history as one of the great household-name drinks of its time, especially considering its popularity in comparison to the great Kool-Aid!
This alone is reason enough to give Fizzies the title of ‘soda-pop giant’ and for Fizzies to claim their place in iconic fizzy-drink history.
Fizzies may never again rise to be the great cultural icon of the soda-pop industry that they once were (although we can always hope that they do make a sparkling comeback), but they will always be remembered in the collective memories of the generations that enjoyed them for what they were: fantastic, fizzy-pop fabulousness!