AW Icon Throwback: Speedy Alka-Seltzer
 
2 May, 2016 · Heather Taylor

AW Icon Throwback: Speedy Alka-Seltzer

 
Heather Taylor

“Plop, Plop, Fizz, Fizz, Oh What a Relief It Is!”

Before he was Speedy, Alka-Seltzer’s infamous baby-faced brand mascot was named Sparky. Sketched by Bob Watkins at Chicago’s Wade Agency in 1951, Sparky became “Speedy” with his trademark Alka-Seltzer tablet body, hat, and wand, popping up on television screens and advertisements everywhere with antacid relief for anyone suffering from an upset stomach or headache.

While we might know him best for the above jingle, Speedy had a multitude of other catchy tunes throughout his commercial run from 1953-1964. Let’s revisit a few of the standout favorites.

“It's Speedy Alka-Seltzer for fast relief you know. It's Speedy Alka-Seltzer no matter where you go. If you have got a headache or your stomach is upset, get Speedy Alka-Seltzer for fast relief you’ll bet!”

In one of Speedy’s earliest ads, he marches merrily with packs of Alka-Seltzer tablets. On his walk across America, Speedy notes that Alka-Seltzer provides fast relief for everyone from politicians in D.C. debating over bills to partygoers in New Orleans experiencing, shall we say, morning after headaches.

"Down down down the stomach through, round round round the system too, with Alka-Seltzer they always say, relief is just a swallow away."

Actor Buster Keaton costars alongside Speedy in this ad, discovering the benefits of Alka-Seltzer and resolving afterwards to always keep it handy – even if that means sticking a pack under his hat.

“Plop, plop, fizz, fizz, oh what a relief it is!”

It’s the ditty we know Speedy best by and also one where the jury is still out on who to credit as the source of the 1953 tune. Some records (including the caption for this YouTube video) claim Paul Margulies, the father of actress Julianna Margulies, was behind it while others cite musician Tom Dawes as the author.

“That’s the cold truth! Oh, what a relief it is!”

Despite retiring in 1964 after a run of appearing in 212 commercials, Speedy made a significant comeback in 2008. This time, he was revived in a print, online, and commercial campaign for a younger generation of men in their 20s and 30s. As the guys went out to drink and eat, Speedy was their “wing man” with effervescent tablets ready to go for those awkward moments of overindulgence tying in nicely with the tagline: “Good times. Speedy Alka-Seltzer is there."

It’s also nice to note that Speedy’s return decades later allowed him to keep most of his early characteristics including his helpful attitude, tablet body, and hat. The wand, on the other hand, found itself starring in other campaigns instead of hanging out with the bros at the bar.

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