Sun, Jul 02, 2006 - Page 1 News List

`Mad scientists' video proves a sweet success


In a three-minute video on the Internet, two performers wearing goggles and lab coats have taught the world how to create geysers by dropping Mentos candies into 2 liter bottles of Diet Coke.

The 6m blasts have captured the imagination of millions of people who've visited the pair's Web site.

"We told friends we thought it would take a few weeks to catch on," said Fritz Grobe, who appears on the video with Stephen Voltz. "Literally, within hours we were seeing thousands of hits, and it has just ballooned from there."

The two began experimenting eight weeks ago after Voltz learned that cola plus candy equals a frothy mess. It's an old trick, but the pair took it to new extremes. The result is their video, which features 523 Mentos causing 101 bottles of Diet Coke to erupt.

The video, set to toe-tapping techno music, has had 4 million hits on the Web to date. That, in turn, led to media exposure including the Late Show with David Letterman on CBS on Thursday night and NBC's Today show on Friday.

Grobe, a juggler, and Voltz, a trial lawyer, met in Maine and perform at the Oddfellows Theater in Buckfield. For their video, they enlisted the theater's owner, Mike Miclon, to operate the camera and a friend to create the soundtrack.

"What a crazy thing!" Miclon said. "My wife held an umbrella next to the camera -- just in case -- so it worked out pretty good."

The pair posted the video on June 3. By 10pm, it had generated 10,000 hits, and they knew they were on to something, Miclon said.

The dancing geysers created by Voltz and Grobe have been compared to the dancing fountain at the Bellagio Hotel in Las Vegas.

The two have done plenty of experiments, and they all end the same -- with the pair covered in soda. Any kind of soft drink will work, Grobe said, but using diet soda means you don't end up sticky.

"We get completely soaked from head to toe," Grobe said. "So it's important not to have it gum up the works."

Both Coke and Mentos have embraced the phenomenon.

"We're happy people are having fun with this," said Susan McDermott, spokeswoman for the Coca-Cola Co in Atlanta. "You never can tell what's going to capture people's imagination. This one certainly did."

For the record, she noted, people won't suffer harm from chomping Mentos and washing it down with Diet Coke.

Mentos, a subsidiary of Italy's Perfetti Van Melle, is featuring the video on its home page.

Grobe says he and Voltz see a bright future in being madcap scientists: "The next crazy project is bigger and better and will pack a lot of surprise."

The two have generated more than US$25,000 through their Internet efforts thus far. But they're not quitting their day jobs.

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