Few people have heard of it, yet many consider John Blankenbaker's KENBAK-1 to be the first commercial personal computer.

Koss introduced these headphones over 40 years ago, and they remain affordable favorites to this day.

Exploding Candy

Pop Rocks

I have vivid memories of being a nine year-old kid and spending my entire allowance on Pop Rocks - tiny sugary chunks that cheerfully pop and crackle in your mouth. My parents had never allowed me to purchase such a dubious substance, and so I did what any sane 9 year-old would do in my position: I opened three packages simultaneously and tossed them enthusiastically into my mouth. Half went down my throat and began to fizz and pop in the nooks and crannies of my esophagus. The other half coated my mouth and tongue. Everything began to pop and fizzle.

For a terrified few seconds, I was convinced that I was mere moments away from exploding.

I coughed, spluttered and choked noisily, while my best friend Erik convulsed with laughter and the shopkeeper regarded the entire scene with detached bemusement. "Hey kid! Do that outside my shop next time, OK?"

Pop Rocks were the brainchild of General Foods chemist Bill Mitchell, who passed away in 1994. He is renowned for creating such peculiar foodstuffs as Tang (the first space drink), Kool Whip, and Jell-O instant pudding. As with many inventions, pop rocks came about completely by accident; Mitchell was seeking a way to carbonate Kool Aid drink powder. His invention languished in the lab for about 20 years.

Former General Foods product developer Marv Rudolph recalls, "It took 20 years [to commercialize]. They said, 'This is interesting, but this is not a serious product. It pops, but so what?' They weren't in the candy business. It didn't have Vitamin C. It wasn't healthy. It wasn't good for you. It didn't fit. Bill Mitchell would just make it. He was a really nice guy. You'd go to his lab and say, 'Bill, make me up a batch for my kid's birthday party.' And you'd show it to the kids, and they'd go nuts."

Contrary to popular belief, there have been no instances of children exploding after consuming unwise combinations of Pop Rocks and fizzy drinks, although I suspect it would be a wonderful way to prepare oneself to burp the entire alphabet.

Pop Rocks were unleashed on unsuspecting children in 1976. Sales fizzled out by 1980 and the brand was sold to Kraft in 1985. The lineup is now manufactured by Zeta Espacial S.A in Barcelona, Spain. If you're lucky, your local candy emporium has boxes of it in various peculiar flavors (fizzy chocolate...) Just remember to step outside before stuffing your mouth full of the stuff, OK?


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