Although long-eclipsed by its competitors, Elliptine was at one time a formidable contender in the childrens’ beverage market in the thirties and forties. The company scored a coup by capturing the endorsement of the Captain Kinetic character, who would frequently take time out from the action to remind the readers how rich and tasty the malted milk beverage was.
Through their sponsorship, Captain Kinetic was able to make the leap from the printed page to the airwaves; the Elliptine Radio Hour was how millions of young people were introduced to Cap in the forties. That widespread exposure led to a slew of Captain Kinetic-themed giveaways and special offers, though no mass-marketed retail toys.
I’ve found someone who may have tapes of some of the old serials, which I’ll review here once I hear them. (To be honest, I’ve hear they aren’t very good, but I’m going to try and reserve my judgement until after I listen to them.)
You’re unlikely to find Elliptine on store shelves unless you live in the small town of Armor Stream, Michigan where the company got its start. The Armor Stream Elliptine Museum has history exhibits on the drink itself, the styles of the forties and fifties, and a few nods to their spokesman of old. The Armor Stream Elementary School is still provided with free Elliptine with hot lunch, as it has been since the thirties. (Since the company is no longer actively marketing its beverage, I wonder how old their stock is.)
If you’re in your local supermarket, you’re much more likely to score a jar of Elliptine’s main competitor of the day, Ovaltine. While Elliptine featured the superpowered Captain Kinetic as its spokesman to the kids, Ovaltine went a different route, securing the right to that white-eyed scamp Little Orphan Annie to shill their product. Similarities in business practice, product, and (of course) name led to a messy squabble over copyright infringement (instigated by Elliptine, Inc.), but since neither could provide substantial proof that it was in business first, the matter was never resolved. Mounting legal costs contributed to Elliptine’s fading from the market.