Why should a certain kind of cereal be the only food item that gets to snap, crackle and pop?

With carbonated sugar, any dessert can - very literally - pop.

Molecule-R's Popping Sugar ($29.95 for a 1.2-pound can) looks like crushed nuts. But apply liberally to a baked good, and you've just kicked things up into the stratosphere.

The key here is to be very generous with the sugar. You've got to cover that dessert in Popping Sugar to get the full, crackling experience. A light sprinkle, and the stuff's a little too polite and nondescript.

Popping Sugar is a lot like Pop Rocks, but it doesn't impart its own flavor. The carbonated sugar is light and airy with an effervescent mouth feel. That may sound sophisticated, but the result is most definitely not.

When we gave it a road test, everyone sat, mouths hanging open, and it sounded like rubber bands snapping. Definitely for a more playful event - like say, a picnic - and not something you'd serve to your boss.

Popping Sugar can also be sprinkled on ice cream or used as a filling in chocolates. It's available at www.molecule-r.com online.

Contact reporter Kristen Cook at kcook@azstarnet.com