Parents of a half-century ago, my own included, did their best to see that their children were well fed.
My mother could make hamburger taste like filet mignon and could feed five hungry bellies on one chicken. She was amazing and I miss her dearly.
But, while my own parents would feed three hungry children a substantial meal, they’d often top it off with such goodies as apple pie, ice cream (with a generous supply of sweet chocolate syrup on top). A favorite breakfast was cinnamon toast and hot chocolate, not a particularly healthy way to start the day.
While we were allowed more than our shares of dessert almost daily, my parents did draw the line when it came to soft drinks. Our consumption of favorite flavors of pop was limited, at least as much as possible. Oh, sure once we began earning our own spending money by working for various farmers during the summer months, doing some work at the local grocery store and helping out the implement dealer come inventory time, then we could spend a little more on bottles of pop.
For some reason, though, my mom never really put up much a fuss when “fizzies” became available. Remember them?
I don’t remember exactly when they hit the market, but I do remember having an almost daily supply of the tablets that, when dropped into a glass of water, produced a flavored drink. There were all sorts of flavors – cola, root beer, orange, grape, and many more, although those were my favorites. They were invented by the same folks who invented Bromo Seltzer and when they were dropped into a glass of water, they’d react much the same. They’d fizz for a while and, voila, a glass of root beer would result.
Well, at least we thought it was root beer. It tasted vaguely similar, I guess.
Fizzies were first introduced in 1957. I imagine I tasted one soon after that.
Like most fads, though the allure of “instant pop” didn’t stick around very long, at least in my neck of the woods. I was actually surprised to learn that fizzies stuck around until 1962 before they faded from the scene. I was even more surprised to learn they made a comeback in the 1990s and that they’re still available today.
Remember the iconic movie “Animal House?”
The movie, set in 1962, included a scene where “Dean Wormer” read a list of offenses committed by Delta House. That list included dumping a truckload of fizzies into a swimming pool during a swim meet. I watched that movie, but I didn’t remember that particular incident.
I don’t know what got me thinking about “fizzies” this week, but it also got me thinking about other fads of the 1950s. The list is long and I’m sure you’ll remember many, even if you’re from a much younger generation.
Among things we got from the 1950s are the hula hoop, Mr. Potato, ant farms, car hops, Pez, Poodle skirts and saddle shoes, and the boomerang.
Young folks also thought it was great fun to see how many of them could jam into a phone booth.
There was one more fad from the 1950s that got a young college freshman into some trouble. That fad was the “panty” raid where young college men would storm a female dormitory, burst into a room and steal the undergarments of an unsuspecting young coed.
I took part in one such raid in the early ‘60s. My buddy, Bob, and I sort of “teamed” up together when a dozen or so students, after several days’ planning, sneaked into a dorm and began bursting through doors. We noticed that everyone had gone past one particular door and we couldn’t understand why. Looking at each other, as if to give courage to the other, we nodded and burst into the room.
Standing there, arms folded and looking mean as a mother bear protecting her young, stood the college’s Dean of Women. I’d never seen such a look on Miss Bridley’s face. It filled me with fear.
We left as quickly as we’d entered, hoping (in vain it turned out) that we hadn’t loitered long enough for her to remember our faces. That was the one and only such raid in which I participated. I was very happy that there were no dire consequences given my buddy nor I – perhaps the fact that he was president of Men’s Student Government protected us both.
I had lots of time to think about the trouble I could have found, though.
There were lots of fads in the ‘50s, Fizzies, I guess were some of the less dangerous.