One Fourth of July tradition we never miss in my house is Fireworks Ice Cream. (We rarely miss anything that involves ice cream, but I digress.) This amazing concoction has a base of vanilla ice cream and cherry swirl. But what gives the flavor its name is the crunchy mix-in — red and blue Pop Rocks!
Pop Rocks, of course, is the candy that effervesces in your mouth. It looks like a bunch of little pebbles, and is traditionally eaten by the handful. Biting into a Pop Rocks releases a burst of carbon dioxide that has been trapped in the candy at a pressure of 600 psi, according to the Pop Rocks website. You can feel it on your tongue, and even hear it fizzing inside your head. Most kids (and adults) think it’s cool, but there are some who find it disturbing.
Given its unique attributes, Pop Rocks has been the subject of numerous urban legends over the years. The most famous one involves “Mikey,” the kid from the Life Cereal commercials in the 1970s, who supposedly exploded from eating Pop Rocks while drinking soda. But in fact, the amount of carbonation in a package of Pop Rocks is a lot less than you get in a mouthful of cola. (How Stuff Works has a Pop Rocks page with a link to the patent for “gassified candy.”)
Here in upstate New York, you can buy Fireworks Ice Cream at Stewarts, a local chain of convenience stores. But if you’re not within reach of a Stewarts you can always try making your own. To keep the Pop Rocks from popping prematurely, you might want to sprinkle them on top, rather than mixing them in.
Note: A version of this article was published on GeekDad in July 2009.