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Top 10 Untold Truths of Pop Tarts

Can you smell it? It’s the unforgettable aroma of warming dough surrounding a gooey center of chocolate, fruity goodness and the candied surface just browning ever so slightly. It’s wafting its way towards you and it calls to you like the dinner bells of a forgotten time. Finally, the unmistakable sound of the toaster popping upward announces itself and your mouth waters expectantly. It’s time! And it isn’t toast you’ll be eating, but the succulent treat known affectionately around the world as Pop Tarts. And while you enjoy a couple, here are a few facts you may not have known about your favorite breakfast meal.

10. Kellogg’s Were The Ultimate Winners In A Race Against Time

As overly dramatic as that sounds, it’s actually quite true, but the race wasn’t on the track or even the time/space continuum. It was actually in the boardroom and Kellogg’s proved to be quite business savvy and shrewd all at the same time. Everyone knows that Kellogg’s invented the pop tart and has been selling them for over five decades long, but what most people don’t know, is that their invention was actually borrowed from rival breakfast cereal conglomerate, Post. It’s quite true, as Post had invented a tart that could be prepared and warmed in the public’s individual toasters. The company had referred to them as Country Squares. The name was pretty catchy. In fact, it got the attention of the execs over at Kellogg’s and they ran with the idea, ultimately inventing Pop Tarts. Post didn’t really have the monopoly on the idea, only the name, so it was just a matter of time before another company would come up with something along those lines, but they didn’t know it would be so soon. As it turned out, Post announced their plans for Country Squares way before they were to be released, giving their competitors plenty of time to come up with their own toaster treat offerings. And come up with them they did. The rest, as they say, is history.

9. The Man Who Perfected The Pop Tarts We Know And Love Worked For A Rival Company

And even here, Kellogg’s looked outside its camp to perfect the invention they kind of borrowed and molded to be their own. The acquirement in the form of Bill Post proved to be quite fruitful (pardon the pun), as he designed the ultimate in toaster treats, but he too didn’t do it alone. Bill Post was actually working for Keebler at the time and as an expert baker who had started in the industry at the tender age of fifteen, he sure knew his stuff. After all, he did have the good old Keebler Elves for company and inspiration. By 1963 he was the manager of the Grand Rapids, Michigan plant and Kellogg’s turned to him to perfect their new idea. But as it turns out, he didn’t do it alone. As he worked on recipe to recipe, he would actually bring his trials home for his kids to taste and critique; sometimes, he would even bring his kids to the Kellogg’s plant and see what they thought. This tactic also proved to be an epic idea, as Pop Tarts are very popular among children.

8. It All Started Because Of Dog Food

Way before all the testing and sampling and way before Kellogg’s borrowed the idea form Post, the execs at Post had to come up with the idea for their Country Squares, didn’t they? Indeed, and that million dollar idea came from the most unlikely of places. As it turned out, the execs over at Post actually got this golden idea from a popular dog food item that didn’t need to be refrigerated, as it was semi-moist; this feature in particular was very attractive to the people of the era (1960s), as it was convenient and simple. Society had been introduced to a life of ease with early versions of the microwave dinner, which had been around since 1953 (invented by Gerry Thomas of Swanson & Son), and of course other food items that made life easier, so the friendly execs at Post figured that the spending public would appreciate a breakfast item that was just as easy would sell like hot cakes … literally! The genius here, of course and with foods that were similar in preparation and packaging, was that they didn’t need to be refrigerated during shipping, and this saved millions of dollars in the process, or rather would have, had they been able to run with Country Squares as well as Kellogg’s did, because it was Kellogg’s that actually benefited from all of the Post execs’ brainstorming in the end.

7. There Were Only Four Flavors At The Inception

If thought about, that actually isn’t all that bad, especially for back then. In the sixties, there wasn’t a lot of choice for food products in general, especially compared to today’s standards, where people have so many choices they don’t know what to do with them or how to decide what to eat, drink or purchase. But four different options weren’t all that bad, really. The Pop Tarts actually came in Strawberry, Blueberry, Apple Currant and of course Brown Sugar Cinnamon. Of course back then, there was no frosting atop the tarts. That genius idea wouldn’t come until later, and thankfully it did, as the frosting is considered the best part for some consumers. The idea came in 1967, three years after the original Pop Tarts were released, and the first frosted flavors included:  Concord Grape, Dutch-Apple, Raspberry and Brown Sugar-Cinnamon.

6. They Almost Went By A Different Name Altogether

A name is pretty much what can determine whether a product does well or not. Many business execs will tell you the same, as there have been some horrible names allotted to some pretty decent inventions, but all because of the name, the product did quite badly in the end. If we recall there are a few, but one that comes to mind is the infamous Plopp Chocolate Bar. That was definitely off the mark, and way off at that. Regardless, the Pop Tarts we know and love almost went by a pretty terrible name—perhaps not as terrible as the aforementioned Plopp Bar—but pretty close. Actually, execs were thinking of naming the new treat after the British snack and/or dessert food known as the Scone. The official name would have actually been Fruit Scone, but many are grateful that the moniker never came to pass, as pretty much most scones are made with fruit and the confusion would have certainly led to a much less popular campaign. When they finally settled on Pop Tarts, they knew they had something. In fact, Kellogg’s has gone on record as stating that the name they finally settled on was influenced by the art of none other than Andy Warhol, who’s art was quite popular at that time.

5. Kellogg’s Had No Idea What They’d Just Unleashed

They knew that they had a good product on their hands and that it would be very successful. But at the same time, they probably had no idea what kind of scope that success would reach. How could they. The era in which they released the product was an era of transition and society was ready for something more … something easier in the world of food prep, as the world outside their respective front doors was moving all that much faster, and it had been that way and headed in that direction since the start of the Industrial Revolution way back in the 18th Century. It sure took a long time to get where it was, but it was that change in society that sparked these later inventions and that need in society to improve upon where they had been and the way things were accomplished. In some interesting way, Pop Tarts and their part in commercial history are a direct example and result of that movement. So when Pop Tarts hit the market, it was a surge of demand that incredibly, the company couldn’t keep up with. As it turned out, just two weeks after the first Pop Tarts were released, the company ran out of supply! Talk about “demand!” The public was buying and at a really fast pace, so fast, the people at Kellogg’s were left scratching their heads. The company actually had to release leaflets and media content stating a public apology from Kellogg’s to the general public. The company learned then what they had on their hands, and the product turned into one of the biggest items that they offered and would offer down the line. Today, a story like this seems rather unlikely, especially for a new product and even more especially for a product that has stood the test of time like this one here. These days, individuals  can’t even imagine going to the store, looking for Pop Tarts and walking away empty handed. Can you imagine the pandemonium?

4. Kellogg’s Actually Had A Dry Run For The Product

Despite the fact that the demand for their product over exceeded their expectations, they originally thought that they were well prepared for what was coming. Pop Tarts were officially released in 1964, but a few months prior, they actually had a dry run, selling the product at a selected location and for a brief period of time, just to see how it would do and what they should expect. The location was a market that they selected in Cleveland, Ohio. They turned out to be a hit and the market sold out quite quickly. This was supposed to give them an idea what to expect, so they decided to raise the intended amount of 10 000 boxes to 45 000 boxes for that famed first shipment, and they still ran out of supply! This is the equivalent of a “soft opening” that a new restaurant will often have the night before they officially open. The chefs, owners and the rest of the staff can get an idea of what to expect on a given night and really, its corporate genius in a nutshell, which is something that the people at Kellogg’s seem to possess and seemed always to have.

3. If The Serving Size For Pop Tarts Is In Fact One Tart, Then Why Do They Come In Twos?

This is a question that was often asked right at the beginning of their ad campaigns, and then again when the world turned to a more health-conscious way of eating and a better way of feeding their families. The actual answer to this comes down to economics. Remember, the people that brought the world this product knew exactly what they were doing, and cutting corners is a big tactic in Big Business, as it saves a lot of money at the end of the day. As you all well know, the packaging of Pop Tarts is quite original in that they aren’t like a lot of treats out there, packaged in a line like cookies, but they are rather wrapped in two in aluminum foil. But to save money, the company decided to wrap two at a time instead of one at a time, thus saving on a lot of foil wrapping. Foil wrapping was and is still quite expensive, especially at the volumes they would have needed to wrap all the Pop Tarts contained in a single box. Now that’s using your head! Regardless, the consumers out there got used to the packaging and either they started eating two at a time, which is what most consumers do, or they started sharing. So yeah … not only are Pop Tarts awesome, but they bring people together all at the same time. The geniuses at Kellogg’s never seem to disappoint.

2. Sales Have Never Stopped Going Up

How does one know that they have a mighty product on their hands? Well, if the people at Kellogg’s haven’t figured it all out by now (and we’re sure they have), then we don’t know what else will convince them. The way it stands now, Pop Tarts has become not only a successful product in and of itself, but it has become a Pop Icon as well. The product can be seen in all forms of art and media. These days, they appear on TV shows, with characters chomping down on them from every angle, they are the butt of jokes by comedians such as the incomparable Jerry Seinfeld, and they are even in the pages of health magazines, some fitness writers claiming that they are the perfect accompaniment for protein shakes before and after the gym. So it really isn’t that much of a surprise that these things haven’t stopped going up in sales—especially since the early eighties when they spiked. Essentially, this product has pretty much never had a spill in the market since then. So are you paying attention you stock market investors? Pop Tarts are the be all end all of successful food products and that’s saying something indeed. They have been at the top of the game for a whopping 32 years and counting and they don’t seem to be letting up any time soon … with a multitude of incredible flavors, Pop Tarts seem to be headed to the moon and beyond and we’re all just chomping away at whatever they have to offer. Even when Toaster Strudels were introduced, Pop Tarts were still way ahead of the game.

1. The Holes Serve An All-Important Purpose

For years people have been asking themselves some of the most interesting questions about the products we consume. How do they get the caramel into the Caramilk Bar? What’s the recipe to that secret McDonald’s Big Mac sauce? And of course: why do Pop Tarts have holes at the top of the pastry? For those out there who have a wee bit of cooking and of course baking experience, the answer is quite simple to arrive to. The holes serve a pretty important purpose in that they let the steam that forms inside the tart as the fruity or what other filling heats in the toasting process, to escape. If this steam didn’t escape, it would render the tart soggy and pretty awful to eat. The tart itself softens a tad when heated but not to that extent.

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