Are Pop Rocks to blame for global warming

April 23, 2009

poprocksJust how far is the U.S. government willing to go to cut carbon dioxide emissions and other greenhouse gases blamed for global warming.

Eric Wegner, whose company is the largest Internet distributor of the iconic Pop Rocks candy, hopes the government doesn’t have too much of a sweet tooth.

The House Energy and Commerce Committee began hearings this week on legislation that aims to go after coal-fired power plants, oil refiners and other emitters of C02 emissions. At the same time, the Environmental Protection Agency said last week that CO2 is a danger to the public health, which could eventually lead to regulation of the emissions by the agency.

Pops Rocks actually emit carbon dioxide gas. The candy is made by heating its ingredients of sugar, corn syrup and flavoring until they melt. Then the candy is exposed to pressurized carbon dioxide as it cools. That causes small bubbles of CO2 to be trapped in the candy.

The CO2 gas is released when the candy comes in contact with the mouth’s saliva. That is what causes the popping and sizzling sounds.

Wegner said Pop Rocks shouldn’t be blamed for global warming, even though the candy has been spewing emissions since 1975 when it was first sold to the public.

“I haven’t put any chemistry experiments behind it, but the amount of CO2 that comes out of pop rocks is probably small,” he said.

Wegner said nobody from the government has warned him yet that Pop Rocks may be regulated. “Could you imagine if they went that far,” he said.

An EPA spokeswoman said “it’s too early in the process” to know if that will happen, while EPA head Lisa Jackson told lawmakers that any regulation would be “for those large sources” of CO2 emissions.

A spokesperson for the House Energy and Commerce Committee wasn’t sure whether the emissions legislation would affect the candy.

Unlike many companies that would be affected by emissions regulation, Pop Rocks can’t afford a lobbyist to make sure its interests are protected in Washington.

“You know, we’re such a small fry we don’t even do advertising. For us to hire a lobbyist, forget about it,” Wegner said.

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