If you grew up anytime in the 1970s, you probably remember going down to your local candy store and trying out ZotZ candy for the first time. You know ZotZ – that hard candy that tickled your tongue with its fizzy center. They were so good and so fun, you just had to share them with your friends and show them “where the fizz izz” (one of ZotZ’s slogans).  So without further ado, let’s take a walk down memory lane and read about how the “Big Fizz Candy” got its start.

Though it didn’t make its way to America until 1970, ZotZ might have never made it here at all if it weren’t for a young man by the name of Andre Prost. In 1916, the 32-year-old New Yorker had worked his way up the ladder of Cuisinier, a producer of fine liqueurs based in New York City; however, with the start of World War I, Andre felt it his patriotic duty to serve both his country and the country of his French parents. Consequently, he left his job at Cuisinier in New York and worked as a volunteer ambulance driver and stretcher carrier for the Red Cross in France.

Upon his return, however, Prost found himself out of a job as Prohibition had started while he was away, banning all production, importation, transportation, and sale of alcoholic beverages. Nonetheless, you can’t keep a good man down, as they say, so Prost started a company called Prost & Callahan, Callahan being a childhood friend of Prost. Together they came up with the novel idea of selling non-alcoholic fruit syrups they called “New Era Beverages”. These new drinks quickly became the after-dinner drinks of Prohibition. However, in 1933, Prohibition was repealed and, after Callahan left, Prost found himself out of a job once again.

“‘Fruit drinks’ for everyone!”

Being the kind of fellow who wouldn’t stay knocked down, Prost once again got back up, dusted himself off and started a new business venture. While selling his fruit drinks, Prost also learned about honey and all of its health benefits. As a result, his new business – the Andre Prost Co. – was all about the honey. In fact, Andre imported over 500 different kinds of honey from all over the world with the slogan “Honey From Here, There, and Everywhere”.

With the sweet success of the honey business, the company was also importing gourmet food from all over Europe and distributing it throughout the northeastern United States. From Como, Italy, he brought delectable and delightful confectioneries made by G. B. Ambrosoli and from Odense, Denmark came mouthwatering marzipan as just a couple of examples.

Though his company was a success, Prost himself was in very poor health, so he decided to retire and return to France – his lifelong dream. In 1964, Mr. Prost handed the keys over to his partner since 1957 – Mr. Frank Landry – and left for France. He would die within hours of arriving.

Frank Landry (Photo: Harold Shapiro)

Nevertheless, Prost’s namesake company continued to thrive under Landry’s leadership, and would continue to do well in the future thanks to a gift of Italian candies he received in 1970 while visiting the G. B. Ambrosoli company in Como, Italy. Not thinking much about it other than the kind gesture that it was, he gave the box of candy to his children once he returned home. Soon, though, he couldn’t walk around the neighborhood without the kids asking him for more of “that funny fizzy candy!”

Landry imported more of the hard candy with a fizzy fun center to America, calling it “ZotZ” – a name taken not from the 1962 William Castle film starring Tom Poston and Jim Backus, but a name often used by Frank Landry himself. Whenever he thought someone was pulling his leg, Mr. Landry had a habit of saying, “Hey! Don’t give me the zotz!” So the name stuck.

Oh, and the secret of the fizz?  Well, it’s  actually created when the mix of malic and tartaric acids and baking soda (sodium bicarbonate) hit the saliva in your mouth and cause a chemical reaction that, in layman’s terms, is known as “fizz”.

Over fifty years later, ZotZ candy is still being made in Como, Italy, by the same family-owned company, G. B. Ambrosoli, and is still available at Stuckey’s in all of the fizzy flavors you remember: Cherry, Blue Raspberry, Grape, Apple, Watermelon, Orange, and  Strawberry. So, hey America… come on by your nearest Stuckey’s location and get your fizzy fix today!*

While you’re there picking up some of your favorite nostalgic candies, be sure to also grab a couple of our world famous Stuckey’s pecan log rolls, pecan divinity bars, or pecan pralines.

And as always, if there’s not a Stuckey’s near you, we can always deliver our pecan log rolls or other fine pecan candies and other Stuckey’s merchandise right to your home. Remember, Stuckey’s memorabilia such as our retro themed t-shirts, caps and mugs make great gifts, too, and we’re not giving you the zotz about that!

Stuckey’s – We’re Making Road Trips Fun Again!

* In an earlier rendition of this blog post, we erroneously posted that the ZotZ importer for the U.S. would no longer be importing ZotZ into America. However, Andre Prost, Inc. – the company that brings us our favorite Big Fizz Candy – let us know that we were greatly mistaken and there are no plans to stop importing and delivering ZotZ to stores throughout the country – including Stuckey’s!

We apologize to Andre Prost, Inc., ZotZ maker G. B. Ambrosoli of Como, Italy, and our Zotz-loving Stuckey’s customers for our mistake and hope to keep supplying all of you with your favorite fizzy candy for years to come.