The fact that Mentos breath mints and Diet Coke have an explosive relationship has been common knowledge among teenaged boys for years, but it took two entertainers from Buckfield to turn a chemical prank into an award-winning career. "We just took it a little bit farther than anyone else has," observes Fritz Grobe in a masterful understatement. Grobe and his partner in fizz, Stephen Voltz, have appeared on the Late Show with David Letterman, National Public Radio, and in performances from Istanbul to Cincinnati featuring up to five hundred geysers of calorie-free soda emulating Las Vegas fountain shows and other offbeat effects.
Grobe says the pair, who are regular performers at "The Evening Show with Mike Miclon," at the Oddfellow Theater in Buckfield
, spent about six months working on their act before putting together a three-minute video. They posted it to their Web site
, where it turned into an Internet phenomenon. It has generated more than ten million views at the home site, as well as uncounted millions more at sites where admiring or simply envious fans reposted it, such as YouTube.
"Eepybird.com in all has had eighteen million hits. All the attention we've received we got through the Web site," Grobe notes. "This wouldn't have happened without the Internet.
"The fallout has been absolutely stunning," he adds. Besides invitations to network shows, the pair was nominated for one of the television industry's prestigious Emmy awards (they lost) and the Internet's version, a Webby (they won). They're in discussions with Hollywood agents and both Coca-Cola and Mentos, and they've added three part-time employees to their bubbling empire.
They've also gone through four thousand bottles of Diet Coke and twenty-four thousand Mentos mints, all provided free of charge by the two manufacturers who know a huge, free publicity bonanza when they see one. "Mentos sales went up 15 to 20 percent last year," Grobe reports, "and they're now giving away Mentos loading tubes to put on Diet Coke bottles."
The challenge is to keep the momentum going, Grobe says. "We felt like we hit the lottery last year," he offers. "We're looking toward a future where it's not just Diet Coke and Mentos, but other household items as well."
Kitchen cupboards may never be the same.This article was originally published in the September 2007 issue of Down East.