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Alka-Seltzer is an effervescent antacid and pain reliever 1st marketed by the Dr. Miles Medicine Company. It was developed by Treneer in Elkhart Indiana. Alka-Seltzer is marketed for relief of minor aches, pains, inflammation, fever, headache, heartburn, sour stomach, indigestion, and hangovers, while neutralizing excess stomach acid. It was launched in 1931. A spin-off of Alka-Seltzer made to relieve colds and flu, Alka-Seltzer Plus, was later introduced. A short-lived antacid non-aspirin variant, Alka-Mints, was introduced in 1994 and discontinued in 1997.
Alka-Seltzer is currently owned by Bayer Schering Pharma AG, Germany. The name "Alka-Seltzer" has been extended to incorporate an entire line of medications sold over the counter and taken by means of rapidly dissolving tablets that form a carbonated solution in water.
Alka-Seltzer are in foil packets, each containing two tablets. Prior to 1984, it was also available stacked in glass tubes. It comes in various flavors.
Alka-Seltzer Gold is a combination of sodium bicarbonate, potassium bicarbonate, and anhydrous citric acid, used for the relief of heartburn, acid indigestion, and stomach aches. Unlike original blue Alka-Seltzer, Alka-Seltzer Gold does not contain aspirin or any other pain reliever.
It was once marketed as a cure-all; at one time, its ads even suggested taking it for "the blahs". Subsequent promotion has taken into consideration that aspirin is a drug that is not tolerated by everyone, and the product is no longer advertised in this fashion.
Though important to the overall effect of the medication, the aspirin (acetylsalicylic acid) is not required to produce the effervescent action of Alka-Seltzer; the effervescence is produced by the baking soda (sodium bicarbonate) and citric acid reacting to form sodium citrate and carbon dioxide gas.
|citric acid||+||sodium bicarbonate||→||water||+||carbon dioxide||+||sodium citrate|
The product has been extensively advertised since its launch in the U.S. Print advertising was utilized immediately, and in 1932 the radio show Alka-Seltzer Comedy Star of Hollywood began, with National Barn Dance following in 1933, along with many more. The radio sponsorships continued into the 1950s, ending with the Alka-Seltzer Time show.
Two years after its launch came the repeal of Prohibition in the US, and Alka-Seltzer became Miles' new flagship product, displacing Miles Nervine Tonic.
In 1951, the "Speedy" character was introduced. The character was originally conceived by Creative Director George Pal of the Wade Ad Agency and designed by illustrator Wally Wood. Originally named Sparky, the name was changed to Speedy by Sales Manager Perry L. Shupert to align with that year's promotional theme, "Speedy Relief." He appeared in over 200 TV commercials between 1954 and 1964. Speedy's body was one Alka-Seltzer tablet, while he wore another as a hat; he proclaimed Alka-Seltzer's virtues and sang the "Plop, plop, fizz, fizz" song in his high, squeaky voice (provided by veteran juvenile voice actor Dick Beals). In December 2010, Alka-Seltzer began a series of new commercials featuring Speedy, using CGI effects to recreate the stop-motion puppetry of the 1950s and 1960s, with Speedy voiced by Debi Derryberry.
Alka-Seltzer TV ads from the 1960s and 1970s were among the most popular ad campaigns of the 20th century, ranking number 13, according to Advertising Age. In an effort to increase sales in a relatively flat business, Bayer has revived several of the vintage spots.
Alka-Seltzer is referenced in the track 'Supersonic' by British band Oasis, with the lyrics "I know a girl called Elsa, she's into Alka Seltzer, she sniffs it through a cane on a supersonic train".
The theme song of the Between the Lions segment "Fun with Chicken Jane" is a parody of the jingle.
On March 28, 2006, the 75th anniversary of Alka-Seltzer was celebrated in Las Vegas by a Guinness World Record–setting buffet, which included 510 items and was hosted by actress/comedian Kathy Griffin.
On March 22, 2003, Expedition Six NASA ISS Science Officer Don Pettit performed a series of microgravity experiments with water spheres and Alka-Seltzer, which were described as "effervescent antacid tablets".
The 2011 movie Rango features a retro Alka-Seltzer packet.