What are Fizzies?

Michael Pollick

Imagine if you could drop an effervescent tablet into a glass of water and turn it into an instant soda. For the generation growing up during the late 1950s and 1960s, that notion was a reality called Fizzies. They were small candy tablets that effervesced when dropped into a glass of cold water. Although marketed primarily to children, the tablets were also popular among adults as sugar-free alternatives to traditional soft drinks.

Original Fizzies came in traditional soda flavors like root beer.
Original Fizzies came in traditional soda flavors like root beer.

During the 1950s, the Emerson Drug Company held a significant portion of the effervescent pain reliever market with a product called Bromo-Seltzer. Chemists working for Emerson experimented with adding fruit flavors to the tablets, and in 1957, released the first line of Fizzies. Original tablets came in several different fruit flavors, such as orange and grape, along with traditional soda flavors such as root beer. Fizzies were usually sold in packs of eight, although some retailers sold them individually as penny candies.

Fizzies were effervescent tablets that basically turned a glass of water into soda.
Fizzies were effervescent tablets that basically turned a glass of water into soda.

Fizzies became extremely popular during the 1960s, due in part to a popular marketing campaign and premiums such as paper hats. Parents enjoyed the sugar-free aspect of the candy, and children enjoyed watching the process as the tablets dissolved in water. Some adventurous customers even bypassed the water altogether and placed the tablets directly on their tongues, foreshadowing the days of other carbonated candies.

Unfortunately for millions of Fizzies fans, the last pack rolled off the line in 1969. The chemists at Emerson Drug Company had used a form of artificial sweetener called cyclamates. Cyclamates were the only sweeteners capable of forming a stable bond with the other chemicals used to create Fizzies. Tests performed on animals during the 1960s established a link between cyclamates and certain cancers, which led to a permanent ban in the United States in 1969. Retailers were allowed to sell their remaining stock through 1970.

Fizzies seemed destined to become just another food fad, but public interest did not completely die out. The Emerson Drug Company could not find a substitute sweetener, but at one point, the new owners of the formula, Warner-Lambert Pharmaceuticals, offered an unsweetened version. Consumers were asked to add sugar and ice. In the 1990s, an attempt was made to resurrect the original Fizzies using the artificial sweetener aspartame. The product was clearly not the same as the original, causing the manufacturers to cease production after a few years.

Recently, online vintage candy stores have been promoting a reformulated version of Fizzies sweetened with sucralose. Seven flavors are currently offered in this new formulation, along with the original amount of additional vitamin C. The originals may never return in their vintage form, but at least a new generation can experience the wonders of watching water turn into soda pop.

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Discussion Comments


Jones Soda Candy is not the same. Fizzies dissolve in water or in your mouth via effervescence. They taste really good now. Just got Blue Razz at a candy store in California. Looking at the fizzies web site they now have five flavors and are available all over the internet candy retailers.


Jones Soda Co. has this out right now, I bought some at Target the other day...back of the tin reads, "Check out new Jones Soda Candy. These little babies deliver a blast of you favorite Jones Soda flavors, along w/ an oddly enjoyable tongue tingling sensation. Drop 'em in your Jones Soda beverages as flavor boosters too!" I've heard they're really popular overseas; 3 yum flavs, my personal fav is the Fufu Berry, plus you get a cute little tin good for reusing:)

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