The Discontinued Pop Rocks Knock-Off With An Unfortunate Name

Today popping candy is synonymous almost exclusively with the brand Pop Rocks. For a long time however, another candy called Space Dust was also an option for customers. Contrary to popular belief, Space Dust wasn't a knock-off of Pop Rocks. Though they were very similar products, both were invented by William A. Mitchell and manufactured by General Foods. The main difference between the two candies was the texture. Pop Rocks were made up of little crystals, while Space Dust was a powdered candy.

Pop Rocks came out in 1975, and Space Dust was introduced a few years later in 1978, giving customers an alternative way to enjoy popping candy. Aside from a short-livedĀ discontinuation in the mid-80s, Pop Rocks have always been fairly popular. But the same can't be said for Space Dust, despite being the powdered form of Pop Rocks. After being pulled from shelves, it was never re-released, very likely due to its damaged reputation.

Controversy behind the Pop Rocks spin-off

Whereas Pop Rocks upon their release were advertised as a unique fizzy candy that pops in your mouth, marketing of Space DustĀ focused more on the taste of it, specifically its "out of this world" flavors, which included Galactic Grape, Cosmic Cherry, and Orbiting Orange. Calling the product "Space Dust" therefore made sense, however the name wasn't received well by parents. Many found it to be dangerously similar to "Angel Dust," the street name for the drug PCP.

In response to concern from customers, General Foods didn't push back. Instead, the company decided to rename the product. Going forward, Space Dust was sold as Cosmic Candy, allowing General Foods to keep the same outerspace-themed packaging and marketing angle. Despite this change, Cosmic Candy unfortunately was never able to fully shed its reputation of being a potential harm to children, because not too long after the rebrand, another more detrimental concern would come up.

Why was Cosmic Candy discontinued?

Changing the name may have been able to assuage concerns about children confusing Cosmic Candy with an illegal drug, but it still didn't stop another rumor from circulating. According to collective memory, there was a rumor in the '80s that the chemical reaction that made the candy pop in your mouth could also kill you if consumed in excess. This prompted General Foods to take out a full page public service announcement in the Detroit Free Press addressing the concern.

In General Foods's PSA, Cosmic Candy's creator William A. Mitchell assured parents that the candy's carbonation was "equal to less than one-tenth the amount in a can of soda pop," making it scientifically impossible for it to cause a child's stomach to explode let alone kill them. Mitchell also went on to share his mailing address, inviting parents to write to him if they weren't entirely convinced. Despite General Foods standing by the safety of its product, it seems it ultimately lost its appeal, as Cosmic Candy was eventually discontinued.