It’s one of those medicines that was ubiquitous one decade and irrelevant the next. Whatever it did, a dozen others have come along and shouldered it aside.

But are they better than Alka-Seltzer? Don’t know; I’m unsure of any malady I had that was ever cured by Alka-Seltzer. You had a headache, you took an aspirin. You had a cold, you took Nyquil. Alka-Seltzer was useful for bringing up wind, or for giving you something to throw up, I suppose.

It was introduced in 1931. The Alka part may have been new, but people have been chugging down headache remedies named“-seltzer” for decades, in the form of Bromo-Seltzer. The success of Alka-Seltzer can be measured thus: never read a story or saw a movie where a guy sat down at a New York lunch counter and asked for an Alka. It’s always “gimme a Bromo.”

The yellow line refers to the citric acid flavor, perhaps. The blues were considered medicinal hues, I think. Alka may have been engaged in trademark piggybacking here, since Bromo-Seltzer was also known for its blue bottles. A replica of one such bottle sat atop the Bromo Tower in Baltimore for years. Needless to say, it revolved. I love America.

Some Alka ads here and here. Again, it’s a rather nonspecific pitch, other than “feel like crap? Here. Drink this.”