BOSTON — Pop Rocks, the urban candy legend of the 1970s and '80s, is surging into stores again.
First marketed by General Foods in 1976, Pop Rocks was known for its carbonated crystals that burst and crackled at 85 degrees, creating a fizzing sensation in the mouth. Yet it was a wild rumor that really fueled Pop Rocks' early sales. An apocryphal report circulated in 1979 that Mikey, the Life cereal poster boy who would "try anything," ingested a mixture of soft drinks and Pop Rocks with, well, explosive results.
The candy's marketer launched a campaign assuring that Pop Rocks were FDA-approved.
"That rumor, more than anything else, fueled the popularity," says Greg Heanue, marketing assistant of Uniconfis Corp., which bought the rights to Pop Rocks in 1995. He says that bad marketing strategy caused the candy's eventual nosedive in popularity.
At Uniconfis, Pop Rocks packaging has undergone a facelift and its flavor was modernized. But the recipe is about the same. Which means the candy should not be stored at over 85 degrees or it will pop in the package. In fact, Newsweek reported in 1979 that a shipment of Pop Rocks had become overheated and blew the doors open on a delivery truck.