February 16, 2011

Blast from the past

We went up to the mountain town of Julian this past weekend. Julian is an old gold mining town that has morphed into a shopping and tourist destination. It is sort of similar to Leaven(s)worth in Washington, though without the Bavarian theme.

The road in and out of town is a bit twisty as the road snakes up the hillside, but a dose of Dramamine kept everything in check. The road passes through land that was pretty decimated by a wildfire a few years ago, and white, burned-out trees stand amongst lower green growth. We took the long way back along a road called Sunrise Highway, which provided some great views of the desert to the east.

The weather was pretty decent for a February afternoon, and there were a lot of people (particularly motorcyclists) wandering around town. I guess there are tours of the gold mines, but our group was pretty content to just wander down Main Street, look in the shops, and indulge in a slice of pie Julian is famous for.

One of our first stops was at a place called the Candy Basket. The shop had hundreds of different kinds of sweets, and Kristy found plenty of Valentine's treats for some friend's kids (including a large jawbreaker that hopefully won't end up getting used as a throwing projectile).

Along with all the regular treats you might expect to find in a candy shop, the place had a ton of candy that I didn't even know was still being produced. I just couldn't pass by this when I saw it.

POP ROCKS!! I haven't seen these in probably 25 years. If you know nothing about Pop Rocks, it is a carbonated candy that fizzes and pops when it comes in contact with moisture (like the saliva in your mouth). It is the same sort of fizziness that is in any carbonated soda, but it is an odd sensation when the solid candy starts popping on your tongue as the CO2 is released.

As described in the Wikipedia entry, an urban legend soon developed that if you ate Pop Rocks with a can of soda, the resulting CO2 gas would cause your stomach to explode. The rumor more specifically said that the "Hey Mikey" kid from the Life cereal ads died from the Pop Rocks/Coke combo (he is alive and well). The Mythbusters have done an episode further debunking the myth.

I can actually remember a phone call to my house as a kid where a person was conducting a survey about Pop Rocks. They asked what rumors I had heard, and I repeated the exploding myth, though I think I might have said a bursting kidney. When I read the Wikipedia article, it appears that Seattle was particularly concerned with the "dangers" of Pop Rocks.

I tried the Pop Rocks this morning and it was just as I remembered it. I kinda grossed out my roomies as I stuck out my tongue so they could listen to the popping. It was a fun flashback, with no exploding organs, but I think I can wait another decade or two before having it again.

No comments: