Pop Rocks were accidentally invented in 1975 by William Mitchell, a food scientist at General Foods. He made the discovery while trying to design an instant soft drink, when he put some sugar flavoring mixed with carbon dioxide in his mouth. The exploding candy became a cultural phenomenon after it hit the market.
Small amounts of carbonation were released when the candy was placed in the mouth, causing both a mild "exploding" sensation and resulting in a satisfying "sizzling" noise kids loved.
An urban legend quickly spread that Mikey, the little boy from the Life cereal commercial (shown below), had died while eating Pop Rocks and Coca Cola at the same time. It was rumored that the combination of the two carbonated products exploded in his stomach.
Pop Rocks were taken off the market for awhile and eventually disappeared in 1983, thus adding to the "truth" that the it really happened. Kraft Foods brought Pop Rocks back in 1985 under the name of "Action Candy." Pop Rocks are now marketed under their original name.
And, yes, Mikey is alive and well and living in New York. Scroll down for an ABC News video.
Pop Rocks Memories
When I started in the first grade I fancied myself as being THE coolest kid in school. As it turned out, so did every other boy in my class. Within the first week all the kids fell into some sort of "click" and I was kind of left out. I thought my life was over until my mother came up with a wonderful idea.
My favorite candy was Pop Rocks and my mom said if I would take some to school and share them maybe it would break the ice and the other kids would see that I was really a cool kid to hang around with. The next day went to school fortified with a backpack full of Pop Rocks.
After lunch all the kids were on the playground and I walked up and said 'hey, you guys ever try these?' After that day we all took turns supplying the Pop Rocks and hung out all the time. All the other kids called us the Pop Rock gang. By the way, I am still cool and I still eat Pop Rocks!! ~ Eric from Missouri