LeRoy Pennysaver & News - page 11

AKool Story
I was half watching Mysteries
at theMuseum last night andwas
listening to the story about the
invention of Pop Rocks. (We sell
Pop Rocks in the museum shop
but Ididn’tknow theconnection to
General Foods and Jell-O.)
What caught my attention was
the story about Bill Mitchell who
invented the exploding candy. It
seems that hewas a food chemist
who worked for General Foods,
and in addition to Pop Rocks, he
also invented Tang, Quick Set
Jell-O, andKoolWhip.
During his career, Dr. William
“Bill” Mitchell received over 70
patents.Onesource that Iread, said
thathebrieflyworked forEastman
Kodak and helped develop a pro-
cess to produce the photographic
colorgreen. Born inMinnesota in
1911, he joinedGeneral Foods in
1941. One of his first challenges
was todevelopa tapiocasubstitute.
Tapioca is made from cassava,
and during World War II, it was
not available. Mitchell invented
a substitute that quickly became
known as “Mitchell mud” within
theUnitedStates army.
Mitchell iscreditedwithcreating
“quickset”Jell-O. So far, Ihaven’t
been able to findmuch about this,
other than in the 1950s he made
it possible for Jell-O to set faster.
During this time, in 1957, he also
developedapowderedmix thatadd-
ed vitamins towater. It was called
TangandGeneralFoodsmarketed it
in1959, but itwasn’t verypopular.
The erroneous story that Tangwas
developed for the space program
beganwhenNASA introducedTang
to themanned space program as a
way to cover up the metallic taste
of theprocessedwateronboard the
Geminiflights. Itwas then thatTang
becameknownas the“breakfast of
Mitchell was also interested in
creating a powdered drink that
would fizz when put into water.
General Foods was interested in
a carbonated variety of Kool Aid.
a variety of combinations in the
1950s. (Fizzie tablets,whichwere
likeBromoSelter,were introduced
in1957by a drug company).
Mitchell did not like the taste
of the concoction he created, and
by chance just put some of the
granules into his mouth, and was
delightedwith thecracklingonhis
tongue. He patented his recipe in
1961, but General Foods was not
interested in a candy product. He
tried marketing the popping can-
dy on his own under the name of
“CosmicDust”,with littlesuccess.
Finally in 1976, General
Foods introduced Pop
Rocks. But a story about
a young television star,
“Mikey” of “LetMikey
Eat It” fame, surfaced.
It was said that he had
eating Pop Rocks and his
stomach exploded. The story
was fabricated but General
Foods had to set up a hot line
to dispel rumors and in 1983
they pulled Pop Rocks from
the market. Today, Pop Rocks
and they are distributed in the
United States by Pop Rocks Inc.
In1966, theBirdseyedivisionof
General Foods introducedMitch-
ell’s patented Kool Whip. It is
basically hydrogenated oils, corn
syrups, sugar and artificial flavors
and because it contained no dairy
products and didn’t need to be
refrigerated, it was popular for
picnics. Recently, to make Kool
Whip taste more like whipped
cream, a slight bit of real cream
wasadded to the formula.Asmost
of youknow,KoolWhip ismanu-
factured innearbyAvon, although
whenHeinz took control of Kraft
Foods, the factory in Avon was
jeopardized. SenatorSchumerand
Gov.Cuomo intercededandstruck
adeal thatwill keepKoolWhip in
Avon for a fewmore years.
William Mitchell continued to
ucts and retired in 1976. After his
wifedied, hemoved fromNew Jer-
sey toStockton,California,wherehe
died in2004, at the age of 92.
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