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Happy Birthday Pop-Tarts!

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BY Tricia Derge

Believe it or not, Pop-Tarts just celebrated their 50th birthday! And our favorite toaster pastry is still selling and tasting better than ever!

And with every great product, there’s a great backstory. With some help from the folks at Kellogg’s I found out about the toaster pastry’s somewhat controversial beginnings to the fame it enjoys now as a favorite on-the-go breakfast delight.

Did you know?

The idea for Pop-Tarts came from a refrigerated dog food invention?

Yup, you read that right. According to The Chicago Tribune, Post Co.’s pet-food division developed Gaines Burgers (remember them?), They were a novel concept because the dog food was semi-moist but didn’t have to be refrigerated — a convenience many humans coincidentally sought in their breakfast food. Post (not Kellogg’s, but more on that later) took this innovative technology and put it towards “a fruit-filled pastry that could be shipped and stored without having to be refrigerated.”

POP-TART-2Before Pop-Tarts, there were Country Squares.

Post was the first to come up with a toaster pastry, calling them “Country Squares.” Back in the ‘90s, a retired Post food technician, Stan Reesman, was interviewed about the Post/Kellogg timing debate. “They kept fooling around with it in our labs,” Reesman said, in reference to Post holding Country Squares back from the shelves. After Kellogg’s introduced Pop-Tarts, Reesman said, “We could see the handwriting on the wall.”

In the beginning, there were only four flavors.

When Kellogg’s first introduced the toaster pastry in 1964, it was unfrosted and came with four flavors: Apple Currant Jelly, Strawberry, Blueberry and Brown Sugar-Cinnamon. In 1967, the first frosted Pop-Tarts hit the shelves with four flavors, as well: Dutch-Apple, Concord Grape, Raspberry and Brown Sugar-Cinnamon. Today, there are over 30 kinds of Pop-Tarts (and many special edition ones).

And the toaster treat almost had a totally different name.

Originally, the Pop-Tarts product was called, “Fruit Scone.” It was later changed, and a Kellogg’s spokesperson told us that the Pop-Tarts name was influenced by Andy Warhol’s Pop-Art in the 1960’s. With that, the pastry’s popularity took off.
The United States actually ran out of Pop-Tarts in 1964.

A Kellogg’s spokesperson told us that, “In 1964, the first shipment of Pop-Tarts sold out in just two weeks.” Kellogg’s issued the above advert explaining its “Oops!” and soon the Pop-Tarts were back on shelves again.

Pop-Tarts were eaten sideways.

POP-TART-3If you look at the old ads and design of the Pop-Tart, it appears that you used to “cut along the dotted lines” and pulled them apart. The filling oozed out of the middle where you split it, but now you just have one solid pastry to heat up and then enjoy.

Frosted Strawberry and Frosted Brown Sugar Cinnamon are the best-selling flavors.

Kellogg’s swears that Frosted Strawberry followed by Frosted Brown Sugar Cinnamon are their most popular flavors, but a recent taste test competition declared Cinnamon Brown Sugar was declared the clear winner.

About a billion Pop-Tarts are made every year.

Andrew F. Smith, author of Fast Food and Junk Food: An Encyclopedia of What We Love to Eat, Volume 1 estimates that, “The Kellogg Company sells more that 2-billion Pop-Tarts annually.” That’s a lot of dough (in more ways that one).

U.S Troops once dropped Pop-Tarts on Afghanistan.

In 2001, the Air Force sent Afghanis aid in the form of Pop-Tarts and Herb Rice, “to promote good will.”

There was once a Pop-Tarts store in Times Square.

The Pop-Tarts World store opened its doors August 10, 2010 and closed not long after. When it was open on 42nd Street in New York City the store was known for making Pop-Tarts “sushi,” with a light show that occurred every hour, and a dessert menu “to die for.”

Sales of Pop-Tarts have been on the rise for 32 years.

Though Kellogg’s has had up-and-down quarters, The Wall Street Journals says Pop-Tarts has seen its earnings increase since 1982 because the pastry appeals to children, teens AND adults — making it the winner of all things marketing!

triciastable@gmail.com

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