Cover it in chocolate and a miracle or two.

Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory (1971)

Hujar’s iconic image of Candy Darling on her Deathbed (1973) remains one of the greatest portraits of our time. She died as she lived: on her own terms, creating beauty and pursuing freedom with her being. Her self-awareness gave her presence, and as she observed, “I am a star because I have always felt so alienated and I project this feeling to others.”

Image: Peter Hujar, Candy Darling on Her Deathbed, 1973.
© The Peter Hujar Archive LLC.

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In late 1976, General Foods took the novelty candy world by storm with it’s new candy, Pop Rocks. It was such a hit, that a few years later they released a new similar candy called Space Dust, which was basically Pop Rocks, just crushed up into a fine powder.

It was a instant success also, but quickly parents complained that the name “Space Dust”,  along with the appearance of the candy, was too similar to illegal drugs such as Angel Dust. Accusations were even made that the candy, because of its similarity to powdered drugs, would lead kids into real drug use.
As a result, the name was changed from Space Dust" to “Cosmic Candy”.

That problem seemed to be solved, but more trouble was brewing. A rumor started going around that the candy was unsafe and that a kid died while consuming the candy while drinking a soda. These rumors once again got parents in an uproar over the candy. It got so bad that Bill Mitchell, chemist and creator of Pop Rocks and Cosmic Candy actually took out a full page newspaper ad in the Feb. 6th edition of the Pittsburgh Press in 1979, explaining that the entire thing was not true. He explained how he started making the candy back in the 1950’s for his kids, and how it was perfectly save despite all the rumors about it.

The candy remained wildly popular for a few years. Stores struggled to keep it in stock. But in a year or too, it seemed everyone lost interest in it. Stores who had stockpiled the candy suddenly found themselves stuck with boxes of it they couldn’t sell.