OPINION: Popping candy adds fun and retro magic to any dessert

Zena says a sprinkling of popping candy over a dessert will spice up any dinner party

Zena says a sprinkling of popping candy over a dessert will spice up any dinner party - Credit: Submitted

It may be a strange thing to talk about but I’m going to rave a food that's a blast from our pasts.

It's popping candy - although you may know it as Pop Rocks, Space Dust, Action Candy or Cosmic Candy, and it was so addictive in my childhood.

I first discovered popping candy as Space Dust in America, my parents took me and my brother in the 70s. I probably shouldn’t have had the freedom I did but it was a different era – I was allowed at the tender age of 11 to walk to the drugstore from our motel room with a few dollars in my M&S jeans to buy sweets.

And popping candy certainly created a stir with us all – (if you fancy killing half an hour of your life which you will never get back, Google kids trying popping candy for the first time).

I brought some back and shared it with friends, it made me very popular – unlike my cowboy boots which often kicked a boy or two. I managed to sell some too!

It took until my mid-teenage years to be able to buy it in England but you’re never too old are you.

Has anyone ever downed a whole packet in one go? Come on, you only live once.

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I sometimes bring it out for my cookery birthday parties, while I do a demo on sherbet making. Sherbet is simply one quarter citric acid (buy from chemist or online) with three-quarters caster sugar. But to make it funkier add some popping candy and watch the faces of your victims.

Popping candy has ten times less acidity than fizzy drinks and once upon a time it was thought to be deadly if mixed with carbonated drinks, it was rumoured to literally blow up your stomach but it’s doesn’t and its never did killed anyone.

Unlike falling out of bed which causes nearly 500 deaths a year (true fact).

Zena Calton

Zena Calton - Credit: Zena Calton

It’s made by compressing CO2 into candy at a pressure higher than a champagne bottle, discovered in the 50s by a scientist who was trying to create an instant fizzy soda – but failed and discovered pop rock instead – he was a genius, I say, as it’s basically a carbonated sugar water in dried form.

What I like now about popping candy is that its occasionally used in adult recipes. Like the local Norfolk company Gnaw who made an Easter special Hopping Candy with popping candy and caramel pieces, which I hope remains on the menu. Occasionally chefs will add some to cheesecake bases or sprinkle in to edible soil or toppings. It’s like we can be kids again, without climbing a tree or get dirty fingers from making mud cakes.

So, next time you are cooking for a dinner party or for your partner sprinkle in some magic space dust – it does peculiar things to ones’ face. Best used on sweet foods as after all its just fizzy dried caramel but for people who haven’t grown up.

Stockists in Norwich include Griffins Sweets UK, 25 Bedford Street, Oh So Sweet, 3 White Lion Street and can be sometimes fond in Poundland and Gifted Store UK in Castle Quarter.

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