In the late ’60s came the big, bad FDA to say, “Cyclamates cause cancer in exotic lab animals!”
Dear M.A.: Whatever happened to Fizzies, those little lozenges that bubbled up into a glass of flavored drinks? I must have some again. Did they disappear as a health hazard? — Brian Schmidtberger, North Park
Dear Matthew Alice: Please settle a bet by giving us the names of all the flavors of Funny Face drink mixes that were so popular. Rootin'-Tootin' Raspberry, I think, was one of them. — Grantville Girls, Grantville
The glorified Alka-Seltzer you recall so fondly, Brian, was indeed removed from the market for health reasons. Ironic, since Fizzies were made by Warner-Lambert, one of the world’s largest pharmaceutical firms. But that might explain Fizzies’ unique flavor. As I recall, they had a light and fruity chemical impertinence, with a complex petroleum-derivative aftertaste, the perfect accompaniment to almost anything made by Hostess.
Kids loved Fizzies because it was the irresistible parlay of refreshment and entertainment, watching the tablets bubble and dissolve into a beverage only a five-year-old could swallow. Moms loved Fizzies because they were sweetened with cyclamates, not sugar, so the drink was one less thing to cause those expensive cavities. For a while everybody was cheery. But then in the late ’60s came the big, bad FDA to say, “Cyclamates cause cancer in exotic lab animals!” Warner-Lambert promptly pulled Fizzies from the market, although there was no record of any exotic lab animal ever having bought the stuff. End of story.
For our wagerers in Grantville, the Funny Face manufacturer, Brady Enterprises, offers the following list: R-T Raspberry, as mentioned, plus Choo-Choo Cherry, Goofy Grape, Jolly Oily Orange, Loudmouth Punch, Freckle-Faced Strawberry, Lefty Lemonade, Rudy Tutti-Frutti, Pistol Pink Lemonade, Captain Black Cherry, and With-It Watermelon.
No doubt about it, nostalgia ain’t what it used to be. Proust was inspired by fine French cooking; we grow wistful over Fizzies. Probably no novels in that.