Ah the ‘70s…the Decade of Rock! And we’re not just talking about Led Zeppelin, Black Sabbath and all of those other great artist you listen to on your local classic rock station. Besides the music, there’s the Pet Rock that made Gary Dahl a millionaire when he duped America into buying the smooth stones he collected from Mexico’s Rosarito Beach and sold them as household pets for five dollars a pop (about $21.50 in 2020 money).

And who can forget Pop Rocks – that fireworks-in-your-mouth candy that may or may not have killed Mikey from the Life cereal commercial after he put a whole packet of the stuff in his mouth and washed it all down by chugging a cola, thereby causing his stomach to explode? (Relax. Mikey is very much alive and well today and works as a very successful advertising sales rep.)

And of course we can’t forget Doug Henning – Rock Magician!

Then there were Magic Rocks – a scientific kit that let you grow your own rocks that looked like colorful underwater stalagmites right on your dining room table. In fact, we recently heard from someone who remembers buying his first Magic Rocks at a Virginia Stuckey’s on the way back from Luray Caverns. And though it’s technically not a backseat toy, he remembers sitting in the backseat staring at its box for the three-hour drive back to Delaware, thinking of all the great things he could do with his box of Magic Rocks.

He would dig a hole in the backyard and grow a whole swimming pool-sized garden of magic rocks. Like Luray, he would charge people to walk through his backyard as they grew and grew. Later, he would add Sea Monkeys and make them put on a show like those mermaids he once saw down in Florida. Of course, none of those plans came into fruition. He was 10-years old with a great imagination. But, he says, those Magic Rocks sure looked pretty cool on his dining room table.

A (Very) Brief History of Magic Rocks

Nobody is really sure where and when Magic Rocks got their start. The science that explains them was known over 350 years ago, but they really didn’t come into use as a “toy” until 1940. And even then their history is a little sketchy, so we’re going to present you with the two stories we could find about their invention.

The first story is that they were invented by the Inglesbee brothers (James and Arthur) back in 1940s America.

The second story is that James and Arthur saw a demonstration of the science behind the toy and decided to develop their own version. It came out in 1945 and was called Magic Isle Undersea Garden, though we’re assuming one of the brothers went up to the other one who came up with that name and said something like, “C’mon, man! That’s, like, a lot of words to describe a bunch of magic rocks. Just sayin’, dude.” So, they changed the name shortly thereafter to Magic Rocks.

“Look, bro! Here’s $10. Just change the name to Magic Rocks, okay?”

For the next 60 years they continued to produce their Magic Rocks in Sheridan, Wyoming, selling the company in 2005. They are now made in China where they are called 资本主义幻想玩具洞穴被称为科学魔术.  (Just kidding. They’re called 魔术岩 just like they are in America.)

How to Make the Magic Happen

Magic Rocks come with a small packet of multi-colored rocks and a mysterious “Magic Solution”. They are often sold in their own Magic Rocks kit that comes with a plastic aquarium and other accessories like a scuba diver or a shark. So, you take the rocks and scatter them about on the bottom of the aquarium. Then you pour magic solution into the aquarium and wait. And wait. And wait. You brush your teeth. Put on your pajamas. Sleep. Wake up. Eat Breakfast. And you wait some more.

It’s totally worth the wait, however, as 24 hours later you’ve seen you’ve grown these magical colored crystal towers that really do make it look like a Magic Isle Undersea Garden. Once you’re satisfied with how it looks, you carefully pour out your magic solution, replacing it with water. With proper maintenance (i.e., changing the water once in awhile) you’re Magic Rock garden should last pretty much forever.

The Magic Behind the Rocks

Magic Rocks isn’t really magic, but science. However, since nobody we know would ever buy a toy called “Science Rocks” we’ll stick to telling you how the “magic” works.

Magic Rocks are a great example of what happens when soluble metal salt crystals are placed in a magic solution of sodium silicate dissolved in water. (Wait. So the magical solution isn’t penguin tears?)

However, don’t think that you’ve solved the greenhouse effect just yet, Einstein. Even scientists don’t quite understand all of the how’s and why’s of what makes Magic Rocks work.

Nevertheless, they do know that when the dissolved metal salts react with the sodium silicate solution, a sort of metal gel forms around the salt crystal, acting as sort of a permeable membrane because there are more salts than water inside the membrane,  water is pulled in to the membrane through a process known as osmosis. This starts to stretch the membrane like a balloon, which, also like a balloon eventually bursts and releases this metal-rich fluid making these colorful mini stalagmites as a result.

It’s not all child’s play though as the process that causes Magic Rocks to work their magic is being studied by scientists to be better able to distinguish biological structures, including fossils, from non-biological structures on the planet Mars.

The Magic of Stuckey’s

Back here on Earth, however, you can still find Magic Rocks at some of our Stuckey’s locations, so look for them the next time you stop in. While you’re there why not also pick up some of our magically delicious and world famous Stuckey’s Pecan Log Rolls? Don’t forget to get a few for the folks back home, too, and watch how fast they disappear!

With Easter just a couple of days away, why not add some of our fine pecan candies and other Stuckey’s favorites to your Easter basket this year? Who wouldn’t want to wake up Easter morning to find that the Easter Bunny left them with a basket full of our world famous pecan log rolls and pecan divinity? Maybe if you’ve been especially good, he’ll leave you with some of our branded Stuckey’s t-shirts, caps and mugs, because Peter Cottontail knows that  Stuckey’s merchandise always makes the perfect gift for Easter, birthdays, and well, just about every other day of the year, too!

And if you can’t come to Stuckey’s, then let Stuckey’s come to you. Visit us at stuckeys.com for more information on how you can have Stuckey’s delivered right to your front door and enjoy all of that pecan-y goodness in the comfort of your own home!

Stuckey’s – We’re Making Road Trips Fun Again!