Pop Rocks®, called Space Dust in the United Kingdom, is a very unique carbonated candy. The popularity of Pop Rocks® has gone through highs and lows, depending on popular opinion, marketing, and urban legends.
In 1956, William A. Mitchell, a chemist with General Foods, patented the idea of a carbonated candy. However, the candy was not available to the public until 1975. Pop Rocks® were created with sugar, corn syrup, flavoring, and lactose, among other ingredients. The ingredients are mixed and heated, causing the mixture to melt. The melted mixture is then exposed to carbon dioxide gas under 600 pounds per square inch of pressure, and cooled. Bubbles have then been trapped inside the candy under high pressure, and can be seen under a magnifying glass.
When the candy touches the saliva in the mouth, it melts and releases carbon dioxide from the tiny pressurized bubbles, causing a tingling feeling and a popping sound. The novelty of this experience appeals to many Pop Rocks® consumers, although it could be surprising and disturbing if you were not prepared for what will happen in your mouth!
In 1983, the candy was pulled by General Foods. This may have been due to the urban legend that many readers of a certain generation will remember. The rumor that was passed around and quickly became widespread involved the supposed death of "Mikey," from a popular cereal commercial. Mikey was said to have eaten Pop Rocks® while drinking a soda, causing his stomach to explode. Although General Foods spared no expense to prove the rumor wrong, and the actor is still alive and well, Pop Rocks® did disappear from the shelves for a couple of years.
Fortunately for fans of carbonated candy, the rights to the candy were bought by Kraft Foods, which put it back in the stores. Sold by Kraft as Action Candy®, Pop Rocks® are once again available under their original name. A Pop Rocks® chewing gum is now available, as is a Pop Rocks® chocolate bar.
Dr. Marvin Rudolph, one of the people involved in the first years of Pop Rocks® manufacturing, wrote a book in 2006, entitled Pop Rocks®: The Inside Story of America's Revolutionary Candy. The book chronicles the story of Pop Rocks®, along with providing interviews with many of those who created and produced the famous carbonated candy.