Writer / Christy Heitger-Ewing
Rocket Fizz Soda Pop & Candy Shop is where magical memories and tasty treats meet.
“We try to stock fun memorabilia that take people back to a joyful time in their life,” says Kim Nething, who opened the Plainfield Rocket Fizz location with her husband, Jon, in 2014. “Last week a 90-year-old woman came into the shop, grabbed my hand, and began to cry when she saw that we have the candy her husband bought her on their first date. She hadn’t seen it in decades — until now.”
The Nethings opened their first Rocket Fizz location on Indy’s Monument Circle in 2012 after moving from California. Kim, who was born and raised in Avon, was eager to return to her roots and introduce Rocket Fizz to the Midwest.
“We took our life savings and a leap of faith and never looked back,” Kim says. “We work our booties off seven days a week, but it’s fun work. I love my job. I love our customers. Hey, we get to live in Candy Land every single day. I’m not complaining.”
In essence, Rocket Fizz sells nostalgia in the way of glass-bottled, pure cane sugar sodas and all kinds of candy (both old-fashioned, current-day and imported). They also carry unique gag gifts, rare concert posters, eclectic tin signs and novelty gifts that folks grew up on like the infinity drinking bird.
When customers step inside, they’re hit with a flood of childhood memories. They recall the neighborhood gathering where their parents gave them a quarter to go down to the corner candy shop. They see ice cube pieces of chocolate and remember when their grandparents bought them that at the movies.
“These items take people back in time,” Kim says. “This store is about reinventing the joy people had of coming into the candy store.”
It’s also about providing a little nugget of home for those who are visiting from another country. Someone from Ireland, Italy or Germany, for instance, might meander into the store and find a candy they haven’t seen since they were in their country. As they savor the flavor of home, it’s like reuniting with a cherished childhood blanket.
A whopping 75 percent of the store’s merchandise is not mass produced, meaning that you won’t find most of these products in another store. For instance, they sell Elvis Presley’s last concert poster from when he performed at Market Square Arena. They also have the poster for the concert he was supposed to do next in Connecticut. Plus, they sell hard-to-find seasonal items year-round such as marzipan, jelly beans and caramel apple pops.
“We hit on everybody’s childhood memories — from Betty Boop to Batman,” Kim says. “We carry anything and everything we can get our hands on that will provide a memory of love and laughter.”
What often pulls customers to the store are their taste buds as they are eager to sample one of the outlandish flavors Rocket Fizz’s soda scientists have created. They carry more than 100 flavors of soda, including scrumptious ones like cherry cola, root beer float and lemon-limeade as well as less traditional ones like mustard, kumquat, pickle juice and, one of Kim’s favorites, Indiana sweet corn.
“It’s like opening a can of corn — sweet, buttery, thick and full of flavor,” she says. They also carry barf soda (which sells well for baby showers) and dirt soda — a cola flavor that transports one back to the baseball diamond. Grass soda sells especially well on Earth Day and ranch dressing soda is a hot item for ranch dressing addicts.
The store plays oldies music primarily from the 50s, 60s, 70s and 80s. So the moment you enter Rocket Fizz, no matter your age, the sights, sounds and smells take you to your happy place. Time and again, Kim has seen people get three feet inside the door, stop dead in their tracks and begin to giggle.
“That happens all the time where someone spots a candy, soda or concert poster that they attended,” Kim says. “The depth of that moment where you have sparked a memory is delightful to witness. It’s one of the reasons I feel so lucky to do what we do.”
Open seven days a week, Rocket Fizz in Plainfield is located at 313 Marketplace Mile, Suite 160 in the Shops at Perry Crossing. For more information, visit rocketfizz.com.