We remember quaking in our boots whenever this dare was thrown down on the playground. To put the age-old question to the test (and to rest), we visited the urban legend experts at Snopes.com.
The fizzy, exploding sensation you feel after eating Pop Rocks is caused by the same thing that makes soda so pleasantly bubbly: carbonation. When the candy appeared in the mid ’70s, parents worried that excess fizzing would cause children to choke, but the more popular rumor was that eating the candy while swigging the soda caused stomach explosion and ghastly death. As the legend goes, the combo had already claimed one famous kid victim: “Mikey” of the LIFE cereal commercials. The rumor gained credibility when the Mikey commercials and the original Pop Rocks disappeared around the same time in the early ’80s.
Although the candy was tested and found safe, its maker, General Foods, grew tired of battling the persistent rumors. They stopped marketing the product in 1983, but it came back under a new name a few years later. The original product is now sold at stores and classic candy fan sites.
Some argue that soda is dangerous enough all on its own because of the long-term negative effects of an overly sugary diet. But as for ingesting Pop Rocks and soda together, it didn’t kill Mikey, and it won’t kill you. The worst that can happen is a sugar rush and a satisfying belch.