I’m back. For a few moments there, I popped through time to that decade between the mid-70s and the mid-80s.
It started when I learned that Jade Chocolates had a new chocolate bar that was made with strawberry Pop Rocks, a candy that debuted around 1975 and sparked a national craze. For anyone who doesn’t know, Pop Rocks were/are tiny candy-coated crystals that sizzle and burst as the coating dissolves. They were a novelty candy from the heyday of novelty candies, and the idea that Jade Chocolates was combining these into one of their fine chocolate bars was intriguing.
Stopping in at Jade Chocolates cafe/store, I couldn’t help thinking about the urban legend that had sprung up around Pop Rocks a few decades ago. The legend went something like this: If you swallow a packet of Pop Rocks and drink a carbonated beverage, the carbon dioxide reaction will cause your stomach to expand with potentially fatal results. The legend grew to include the alleged death by Pop Rocks and Coca Cola of Mikey, the kid in a popular Life Cereal commercial. As is the nature of urban legends, it was as untrue as it was dramatic.
Wrapped in a clear cellophane pouch with an unobtrusive label, Jade’s Flavor of the Month: bittersweet chocolate with strawberry Pop Rocks didn’t look all that special. I had to take one home and try it.
A few days later, I was ready to give it a go. I opened the wrapper and snapped off a square of the chocolate bar, then sat for a moment looking at it, suppressing a slight nervousness with the same silly smile I wore when I opened my first packet of Pop Rocks way back when. I bit into the square and let the chocolate melt on my tongue. The first sensation was the strawberry candy flavor mixed in with the bittersweet chocolate. Not bad, really. The bittersweet helped to take the sugary edge off of the strawberry flavoring. As I sat savoring the chocolate flavor, there was an audible pop and a mild stinging sensation on my tongue. And a few seconds later, another. Then, as if a string of very small firecrackers had gone off in my mouth, I had the real Pop Rocks experience. It’s hard to describe in words, but there was flurry of a popping on my tongue and the roof of my mouth that sounded like it was coming from somewhere deeper in my head. I’m not sure whether it was intentional or not, but I opened my mouth a little and could hear the popping clearly. It sounded like a small audience applauding enthusiastically. The popping continued back to the soft palette and down into my throat. As it faded away, I was left with the taste of bittersweet chocolate and strawberry candy. And there was that silly smile on my face again.
In all honesty, if I’d heard that some big chocolate factory was making Pop Rocks chocolate bars, I would not feel compelled to try it. But made by a skilled artisan chocolatier like Jade, it works for me. Go on. Try it. I liked it! Hey Mikey!