The Truman High School graduates who founded the Atomic Fizz Soda Pop company wanted to do something special on the year anniversary of their citrus flavored beverage that can be found on the shelves of grocery stores and restaurants in Eastern Jackson County.
So they decided to hold a contest at their one-year celebration at the Blue Springs Chamber of Commerce.
“We wanted to offer people attending our anniversary the chance to create a new soda for our company,” said Mark Driscoll, Atomic Fizz’s director of marketing. “We weren’t really sure what would happen. What if none of the soft drink entries were that good? We weren’t going to market a new flavor we didn’t like or believe in.”
That was no problem, thanks to Brittany Hill Middle School eighth grader Sophia Zarrillo.
When the 13-year-old heard about the contest, she went to work in her family’s Blue Springs kitchen.
“She is very creative,” said Sophia’s mom, Michael, “she just has that type of a brain. If she puts her mind to something, she gets it done. She is very creative musically and artistically, too.”
Sophia attended the anniversary celebration decked out in head to toe red-white-and-blue clothes, which happen to be the colors of Atomic Fizz soda.
“My wife and I were going to the Chamber of Commerce event and Sophia was really excited about going,” said Joey, her father. “She was all decked out in red, white and blue and was ready for the contest.”
She went to work concocting her “secret flavors” and they immediately won over the members of the Atomic Fizz staff.
“We knew we had a winner,” said a relieved Driscoll.
“It’s a fruit flavor that is really refreshing. If you're used to fruit sodas, they usually coat your mouth and they're really syrupy and sweet. But this one was really refreshing and flavorful. It was head and shoulders above the other entries. And it has a great flavor.”
Driscoll admits that some of the members of Atomic Fizz’s braintrust – Vice President Sam Heacock, CFO Mitchell Pritchard, head of inventory Antonio Johnson and partner Shawn Armour – enjoy it as much as the original citrus Atomic Fizz flavor.
“She did a great job,” Driscoll said. “It was really flavorful when it was warm and syrupy. Now that it’s an actual soda, it’s really great.”
Driscoll came up with a special way to honor Sophia’s special drink.
He arranged with her parents to fill their refrigerator with Rainbow Drizzle, and let Sophia discover it after a recent shopping trip.
“We went grocery shopping and I opened the refrigerator door to put some spinach away and there were all my bottles of Rainbow Drizzle,” Sophia said, grinning from ear to ear. “I was really surprised.”
The original hand-drawn Rainbow Drizzle bottle that Sophia used at the contest still sits on a kitchen counter, along with a professional bottle that states “Sophia’s Fan Flavor Soda Pop.”
And inside the fridge is enough Rainbow Drizzle to quench the thirst of everyone in her neighborhood.
Sophia has used social media to let all her friends know about what she hopes will soon be their favorite soda.
“It’s just fun and exciting,” said Sophia, who is manning a lemonade stand to raise money for a future trip to Spain, where she will help teach English to young Spanish students.
Upon hearing that news, Driscoll pleaded, “Please don’t do anything to compete with Atomic Fizz.”
That comment brought laughter from the entire Zarrillo family.
Driscoll said Atomic Fizz is making sure that the latest member of their family receives more than name recognition for her Rainbow Drizzle soda.
“We’re giving Sophia 10 percent of the sales of Rainbow Drizzle, that will go into a college fund,” Driscoll said. “She earned it. We’re all excited to see how it sells once it’s on the market.”
Atomic Fizz can be found at All Things Independence, a student-run store on The Independence Square, Brewers in Blue Springs, Sebella’s Fire: Wood Fired Pizza and Ambrosi Bros. Cutlery.
Driscoll has always said, “We believe in the American Dream, so why not dream big?”
That’s certainly what an eighth grade student from Blue Springs did, and she has the proof – in her refrigerator – that dreams do come true.