Alka-Seltzer Plus
Product type Antacid, aspirin, NSAID, tablets, liquid gels, fruit chews
Owner Bayer (1978)
Country U.S.
Introduced 1931 (1931)
Markets Worldwide
Previous owners Miles Laboratories
Tagline "Plop, plop, fizz, fizz"

Alka-Seltzer is an effervescent antacid and pain reliever first marketed by the Dr. Miles Medicine Company of Elkhart, Indiana. It was developed by head chemist Maurice Treneer.[1][2] Alka-Seltzer is marketed for relief of minor aches, pains, inflammation, fever, headache, heartburn, stomachache, indigestion, and hangovers, while neutralizing excess stomach acid.[2] It was launched in 1931.[3] 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. Another non-aspirin-based variant, Alka-Seltzer Gold, was later released.

Since 1978 Alka-Seltzer has been owned by Bayer Schering Pharma AG, Germany.[4] 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.

The brand is sold in North and Central America (and the Caribbean), as well in Asia-Pacific. In the 1980s and 1990s Bayer attempted to introduce the brand in Europe and South America with little success, withdrawing them after a few years.


Alka-Seltzer contains three active ingredients; aspirin (acetylsalicylic acid) (ASA), sodium bicarbonate, and anhydrous citric acid.[5] The aspirin is a pain reliever and anti-inflammatory, and the sodium hydrogen carbonate and citric acid form an antacid by their effervescent reaction with water.[6]


The product has been extensively advertised since its launch in the U.S. It was originally marketed by Mikey Wiseman, a company scientist of Dr. Miles Medicine Company, who also helped direct its development. Print advertising was used 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." Speedy appeared in over 200 TV commercials between 1954 and 1964. His body was one Alka-Seltzer tablet, while he wore another as a hat. In his original spots he sang "Relief is just a swallow away"; in his 1978 revival he proclaimed Alka-Seltzer's virtues and sang the "Plop, plop, fizz, fizz, oh what a relief it is" song in his high, squeaky voice (provided by veteran juvenile voice actor Dick Beals).[7] In the early 1960s a commercial showing two tablets dropping into a glass of water instead of the usual one caused sales to double.[8] 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.

US TV commercials

Alka Seltzer Plus tablet

Alka-Seltzer TV ads from the 1960s and 1970s in the US were among the most popular of the 20th century, ranking number 13, according to Advertising Age. To increase sales in a relatively flat business, Bayer has revived several of the vintage spots.[9]

The famous "Plop, plop, fizz, fizz" commercial song was written by Tom Dawes, who was a former member of The Cyrkle.[8] Despite this, Julianna Margulies has appeared on talk shows telling people that her father Paul wrote it,[10] which is not true because he only was an executive at the advertising agency that created the ad.

"On Man's first trip through space, I only hope that I'm aboard, securely strapped in place. They'll track our ship with radar and telescopes and soon, imagine seeing Speedy Alka-Seltzer on the moon!"

See also


  1. Origin of Everyday Things by Think Books (editor), Sterling Publishing Company, Inc., Nov 28, 2006 page 12. Retrieved October 21st, 2012
  2. 1 2 Google Books, Sold on Radio: Advertisers in the Golden Age of Broadcasting By Jim Cox pp 197-199 ISBN 978-0-7864-3391-9 May 23, 2008
  3. The book of answers: the New York Public Library Telephone Reference Service's most unusual and entertaining questions By Barbara Berliner, Melinda Corey, George Ochoa. Simon and Schuster, 1992
  4. "Consumer Health - Leading Growth".
  5. "Alka Seltzer Directions of use, Sodium & Aspirin content - Alka Seltzer relief from Headaches, Migraine & Upset stomach".
  6. "Alka-seltzer original". Netdoctor.
  7. "Alka-Seltzer FAQs".
  8. 1 2 snopes (29 January 2016). "Alka-Seltzer Marketing :". snopes.
  9. 1 2 3 4 "Try It; You Liked It Once, and Alka-Seltzer Hopes You Do Again". The New York Times. 19 June 2006.
  10. Clip of Julianna Margulies on The Tonight Show making false claim that her dad created the jingle that was written by Tom Dawes
  11. ALKA-SELTZER VINTAGE TELEVISION COMMERCIAL "Pop Pop Fizz Fizz". YouTube. 3 February 2012.
  12. "Jack Somack - Other works". IMDb.
  13. "Commercials: Alka Seltzer and Spicy Meatballs".
  14. 1 2 Crain, Rance (2015-03-02). "For This Industry Veteran, The Past Was Great, But The Future's More Exciting". Advertising Age. 86 (4).
  15. Elliott, Stuart (2006-06-19). "Try It; You Liked It Once, and Alka-Seltzer Hopes You Do Again - New York Times". New York City: Retrieved 2010-12-30.

External links

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