April 15, 2016

Oh, the irony! Tax Day is also a legal anniversary of “Plop, plop, fizz, fizz…”

America’s federal income tax was first created by Congress in 1861, to help fund the Union Army during the Civil War.

The original deadline set for paying the tax was June 30.

In 1895, that first Federal income tax law was declared unconstitutional and overturned by the U.S. Supreme Court.

This little legal problem was fixed in 1913 when the Sixteenth Amendment to the United States Constitution was ratified.

The tax deadline was then set as March 1.

In 1918, it was moved to March 15.

Then, in 1955, the traditional date for filing tax returns was changed to April 15, a now long-dreaded date that has come to be known as “Tax Day.”

If the process of filling out and sending your income tax return to the Internal Revenue Service gives you heartburn, then a famous advertising slogan linked to the date April 15th will strike you as appropriate.

In 1976, Miles Laboratories filed a trademark application to protect the slogan it had been using to promote Alka-Seltzer, the “effervescent analgesic alkalizing tablets” the company first began selling in 1931.

The slogan was used in Alka Seltzer TV commercials in the 1960s. But for some reason unknown to me the legal anniversary of it’s use as a “Word Mark” for trademark purposes came later.

The company's official trademark filing in 1976 said this advertising “Word Mark” was “First used in commerce on April 15, 1976.”

I can’t explain why that date was used for legal reasons. But it does strike me as ironic that it’s the same as the legal date for “Tax Day.”

Unless you’re too young, you probably know the words in this “Word Mark.”

They were initially used in a jingle sung by Speedy, the animated star of Alka Seltzer’s TV commercials, and continued to be sung, spoken and printed in Alka Seltzer ads for years:

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

As some aficionados of obscure rock trivia know, the music for the famed Alka Seltzer jingle was written by Thomas W. Dawes, a founding member of The Cyrkle.

The Cyrkle was the Sixties rock music group best known for their hits “Red Rubber Ball” (written by Paul Simon and Bruce Woodley) and “Turn Down Day.”

Dawes later wrote many other jingles used in ads for other products, including 7-Up (“7Up, the Uncola”), L’Eggs (“Our L’eggs fit your legs), McDonald’s (“You, You’re the One”) and Vidal Sassoon’s hair care line (“If You Don’t Look Good, We Don’t Look Good”).

Anyway, next time you get heartburn as you fill out your federal income taxes, queue up a vintage Alka-Seltzer TV ad on YouTube, pop a couple tablets, and sing along with Speedy.

You could also rewatch one of the later Alka Seltzer ads with equally famous catchphrases, like “Mama mia! That’s a spicy meatball!” (first used in 1969) or “I can't believe I ate that whole thing” (first used in 1972).

It won’t relieve the financial pain.

But at least watching some hokey old Alka Seltzer ad might make you smile.

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