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Pop Rocks

By Sheila Macias

Do you remember Pop Rocks? I do! That was the coolest candy ever! It was 1975 when the other kids were bringing them to school. I had to go to the 7-Eleven and get some. No way man! They were sold out. Every store I went to for the next two weeks was sold out. Finally I found some and spent every cent I had to buy as many flavors as I could. They made me even more POPular (sorry - I couldn't resist).

What were Pop Rocks?

The magical and mystical Pop Rocks are simply hard cooked candy with carbon dioxide gas bubbles. As they melt in your mouth, the gaseous pressure from the bubbles is released and the candy shatters. Pop! Cool man!

Let's Get Mikey!

One of our favorite Super70s urban legends involves the kid from the Life cereal commercials. Several months in to the Pop Rocks fad, a nasty story about Mikey (that's right - the Life cereal kid) surfaced. The story, which quickly became an urban legend, claimed that the other kids in the commercial had recently dared Mikey to drink a Pepsi with a mouth full of Pop Rocks ("Let's get Mikey! Yeah! He won't eat it - he hates everything."). When he took their dare, his stomach exploded. Like most urban legends, it sounds totally cool, implausible and was not true.

Were They Dangerous?

The ingredients have all been approved by the FDA and the carbonated fizz in a packet of Pop Rocks are about 1/10th as much as you would get in a mouthful of Coke or Pepsi - though I double-dare you to 'do a Mikey' and drink your cola with a mouthful of Pop Rocks! I triple-dare you to use Jolt as your cola!

How Do They Work?

Pop rocks, like other hard candy is made of sugar, corn syrup, water and flavoring. Heating the ingredients together until the water is cooked off and temperature is high enough. What you have is hard candy. Now the candy mixture is mixed with carbon dioxide gas at high pressure to form pressurized bubbles. You can actually see the bubbles if you look close. Once the candy is in your mouth it melts releasing the gas and Pop. (Ingredients: Sugar, lactose (milk sugar), corn syrup, artificial flavor, artificial color (Red #3), processed with carbon dioxide.)

Money Maker

General Foods made a fortune - each packet contained less than 2/10ths of an ounce! What a great way to make money. Like taking candy from a baby.

Where Are They Now?

Mikey (from the Life cereal commercials confirmed that rumors of his demise were premature by graduating from college in 1991. (Mikey - if you are out there, drop us a line!)

 

 

Share Your Memories!

Do you have any interesting or amusing stories to tell about ? Share your stories with the world! (We print the best stories right here!)

Your Memories Shared!

"I remember it being 7-up (not that it really matters) that the kid drank with the pop rocks. I never heard it as Mikey though. Someone would always tell you the legend right as you just ate the pop rocks just to scare the s**t out of you. I remember another Rumor that might have been local to my area of Long Island. Bubble Yum had just come out and the story was that spider eggs were found in the gum. Pretty gross but it never stopped me from buying the gum."

--JimR541

"I worked at the kool-aid plant in chicago in the Super70s and Awesome80s and worked in the Pop Rocks dept. My job was to weigh barrels full of pop rocks and take samples of them to be inspected for quality. I remember thinking how many packets of pop rocks this sample bag would make!

There was also another pop rocks product which no one remembers, I guess. It was called Space Dust and was just the pop rocks residue which still sizzled like pop rocks. I remember a ladies group protested the name "space dust" because it sounded a lot like a drug of some kind, so General Foods changed the name to "cosmic candy." I wish I had some memoribilia for you but I don't. [Editor's note: Sharing your memories is enough - thanks!] It was a lot of fun working in that department. Chunks of pop rocks would come out of the carousels that formed the candy, so we'd take them and watch them explode when we threw them against the walls."

--Kool-Aid Man

"Boy, do I REALLY remember these !! I grew up with my friend Don from the time we could walk. I lived in Rockland County at the time, a suburb outside of the NYC limits. His father worked for General Foods and worked with the gentleman who developed the original pop-rocks (known at the time as poppin-candy). Don's dad used to bring home bags full of pop-rocks "in-the-raw", and not in the nicely refined tiny pieces like you bought in the store. These were major rocks. They ranged in size from that of a shirt button, to about the size of an almond (but in the shape of a small rock. Wow.....too bad they don't make them like that for the public. It was really fun to take the big ones and place them in a glass of water. I tried to suck on a really big one once, but the big ones were too explosive and really hurt if they blew just the right way and hit a tooth."

--Anonymous

"The first time I tried them I did not know they poped. A friend gave me the open pack and I assumed they were like a pixie-stick. I dumped the whole thing in my mouth (mostly sticking to the back of my Uvuala (the dangly bit in the back of your mouth). SUPRISE!"

--Dr. Dan

"I don't remember seeing Poprocks until summer of 1978. I was in England for the first time and they got all kinds of cool stuff there ya can't get in the states. Some kid told me they were about to be banned in the states so I got a bunch and took them back with me. I got REAL scarred going though customs at Kennedy airport - felt like a real smuggling criminal. I saw my self doing heavy time at Warwick along with other hardened pop rock runners!

To my dismay the candy stayed in the stores and was never banned and I emerged a humbler yet wiser man."

--RWRYAN

"I remember seeing Pop Rocks as Cosmic Candy when I was a young'un. I think the candy first came out under the anem of Cosmic Candy and then the name was changed to Pop Rocks. [Editor's note: As a former GF employee has since pointed out, Cosmic Candy was a derivative of Pop Rocks - one that I had completely forgot about.]"

--TrentT

"I am not remembering poprocks, but enjoying them in today's generation! Recently they have come out with a new variety of Poprocks, Xtreme Poprocks (they just HAD to put that X in there, since it is the new Fad and all, stop spelling correctly and abbriviate) [Editor's note: At least they didn't call them E-Pop Rocks.] but anyway, they are really super sour, but not at first. All of the sour powder falls to the bottom of the tube thing, so it gets gradually sourer as you eat more. The last half inch is killer but it is so fun! They are still making them popperiffic... one even exploded right out my mouth! Cool! Well, love for poprocks!"

--beku87

"I used to love them so much! 1975-76 is when I seem to remember when they first came out here in Denver. I was 11/12 yrs. old. What a weird kind of Candy! I was glad to see that they are once again being manufactured! I can't believe that someone actually though you could die from eating them with a Pepsi!
Geesh!"

--stalzz

"I want to give you an update on your Pop Rocks information. Pop Rocks is very much alive and well and in fact is still one of the best selling novelty candies! I know because I work for Pop Rocks, Inc. The brand is owned by Zeta Espacial in Spain. That also is where the production facilities are.

We just recently released Sugar Free Pop Rocks and the new Bubble Gum Pop Rocks will be out in the spring."

--W.M. Winkler

"My fondest memory of Pop Rocks was in my ninth grade english class in 1975. I put some in my mouth and thought the teacher wouldn't know, as Pop Rocks in class were illegal. Unfortunately for me it was a really good package (I remember some packs popped better than others) anyhow they popped so loud I was found out and made to sit in the hall the rest of class. It was the first ever pop rock suspension in the class.

They were also loads of fun at the SAT tests!"

--Class flirt of 1978

"Hi! I love your site! So many great memories! I just have one little comment, you have Pop Rocks listed as a 70s candy, when actually Pop Rocks came out in the 80s, the popping, fizzing candy that was out in the 70s was called Cosmic Candy, it was taken off of the market, some people say because of the rumors that it was dangerous. It came back in the 80s as Pop Rocks, and it didn't pop as strongly as the Cosmic Candy did. So, I just thought I'd bring that to your attention in case you didn't know. [Editor's note: I appreciate your first comment, but you are simply wrong about the rest as everyone else here can tell you. I had them when I lived in Colorado and we left that wonderful state in 1977.]"

--Velvet Cyberpunk

"I remember the urban legend, except your stomach was supposed to blow right out of your body. I got put on punishment for a week trying to see if it was true. There was a little girl in our building that no one liked but our mothers always made us play with her. She hadn't heard the story so we all went to The Plaid Pantry bought a Coke and two bags of cherry Pop Rocks (only the cherry ones will kill you). We told her if she wanted to play with us she had to put a bag of Rocks in her mouth, take a big swallow of Coke and then follow it with another bag of rocks. Well, my mother found us on the fire escape yelling at her to hurry up and this poor child sitting there crying with reddish brown foam coming out of her mouth. It goes without saying that the girl did not explode but, my mother did. P.S. The girl and I ended up best friends in highschool"

--queen of rocks

"I was 11 years old in the summer of 1976. We (my sister and I) heard about the new candy, "pop rocks" and had to have it. Went down to the corner store. Don't remember and didn't care about the cost. Put a whole bag my mouth (don't try this at home). It's very difficult to breathe through your nose with all that action going on in your mouth. That was the coolest and neetest experience of my life, at that time. All it did was make you want more."

--'xplodin' head


 

FOOD FACTS

A vintage pack of cherry-flavored Pop Rocks!

Image courtesy of Larry Niven


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