The Reason This Pop Rocks Spinoff Didn't Work Out

Pop Rocks hold a unique place in the hearts of kids and former kids the world over. After all, they're pretty much the only way to eat candy and feel tiny explosions on your tongue at the same time...but they weren't always. Two decades after pop rocks were first created in 1956 (during a failed attempt to invent an instant soft drink) General Foods released a similar product (via Science World).

It was called Space Dust, which was essentially pop rocks ground up into a fine powder and sold in some of the most psychedelic planetary packaging imaginable (via Gone but not Forgotten Groceries). The product initially performed so well that stores couldn't seem to keep it in stock and "sidewalk hustlers" even began hawking it on street corners at marked up prices, according to a 1978 edition of the Village Voice Newspaper. However, its unique form factor and marketing would sadly prove to be Space Dust's undoing.

The downfall of Space Dust

Unfortunately for fans of the popping candy, parents quickly became concerned that the texture and name of Space Dust were too similar to illegal drugs like Angel Dust, also known as PCP (via Yahoo! Life). This led to rumors that the candy itself was unsafe, or that it might somehow lead children to try drugs.

These rumors proved damaging enough that General Foods rebranded the product as "Cosmic Candy," but this didn't stop the parental concerns or the generation of rumors about the product's safety. In fact, in an attempt to assuage these fears, the inventor of the candy, Bill Mitchell, published an open letter to parents in a 1979 edition of the Pittsburgh Press, writing: "The FDA has reviewed Cosmic Candy and found it 'safe' and acceptable. The carbonated fizz in the candy, that causes the funny tingling, is equal to less than one-tenth the amount in a can of soda pop." 

Sadly, even this assurance wasn't enough to save the fizzing candy from fizzling out and being discontinued. So, if you want to sprinkle popping dust on your ice cream like chef Heston Blumenthal, or use it on the rim of a cocktail, you'll need to crush up the Pop Rocks yourself (via Mirror).