Retro candy is having a rough few years. We lost the oldest continually operating candy company in America (Necco) after a last ditch effort to save it failed. In our nostalgia for conversation hearts and Necco wafers, we wondered what other candy has been lost to the ages along the way.
One interesting treat that turned up in our sweet research is Fizzies candy, a fruit-flavored tablet that you dropped in water to create a fizzy drink. If it sounds like this candy was a fruity antacid, well, that’s exactly how it got its start.
Fizzies drink tablets were created by the Emerson Drug Company and introduced in certain areas in 1957. Emerson also made Bromo-Seltzer, a cousin to Alka-Seltzer; the company wanted to disguise the sodium citrate taste of the medicine, giving it the “spoon full of sugar” treatment by adding fruit flavor. Adding fruit and a sweet taste made it like a soft drink, which of course made the instant sparkling drink attractive to kids, and thus Fizzies candy was born.
In 1962, Warner-Lambert acquired Emerson and started selling the candy nationally. Fizzies candy was so popular as a kids’ drink that it surpassed even Kool-Aid. The original candy tablets came in seven flavors—grape, orange, cherry, lemon-lime, strawberry, root beer, and cola—all of them sugary sweet.
The sweetness turned out to be a big problem. One reason the candy took off was that it was made with artificial sweeteners, not sugar, so it seemed “healthier” than other candy (even after the company’s recommendation to add sugar and ice).
The original Fizzies candy was made with cyclamates and saccharin, also known as sweeteners that are either currently banned in the United States by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) (that would be cyclamates) or have been long studied for carcinogenic links (saccharin). In the 1970s, Warner-Lambert stopped making Fizzies candy because they couldn’t figure out a way to make it taste sweet, be fizzy, and also be safe for kids to consume.
Premiere Innovations, Inc. brought the candy back in the mid-1990s, making it with NutraSweet. The candy wasn’t around for long before the company went under and Fizzies candy went away.
The candy tablets were resurrected once again in the 2000s by Amerilab Technologies in Plymouth, Minnesota, who sold the candy in candy stores and online in lemonade, root beer, cherry, orange, blue razz, hot cocoa, hot apple cider, cherry cola, and grape flavors. The candy was marketed as being healthier than soda pop, with no calories and 100 percent of the recommended daily supply of Vitamin C.
But like other retro candy, it seems Fizzies candy may finally have ended its run. In 2016, the candy once again disappeared and if you can find it at all online, it’s with a note that there isn’t any more available.
The moral of the story is if you have fond memories of old time candy from your childhood, stock up while you still can.