Wikipedia’s bland definition of this product seems rather kind-hearted. “Pop-Tarts is the brand for a flat, rectangular, pre-baked toaster pastry made by the Kellogg Company.
Pop-Tarts have a sugary filling sealed inside two layers of rectangular, thin pastry crust. Most varieties are frosted. They can be eaten without being warmed, but are often warmed inside a toaster. They are usually sold in pairs inside foil packages, and do not require refrigeration.”
I wasn’t yet a teen when the first ads for Pop Tarts appeared on teevee. Mom was curious enough to purchase a box so the family could sample them. That first Pop Tart didn’t impress me at all. It was dry, fragile, and did not contain much filling. The thing didn’t satisfy my appetite at all. Not only didn’t the Pop Tart satisfy, it gave me heartburn. It reminded me of another product that I hated, “Tang” beverage mix.
I think that was the only box of Pop Tarts our family ever had. We continued to eat conventional pastry from the local bakery.
The toaster pastry was actually invented by Kellogg’s main competitor, Post. That company launched “Country Squares” at a press conference on February 16, 1964. Unfortunately for Post, they had not completed the finishing touches on their product. This gave Kellogg’s the breathing room needed in order to develop their own toaster pastry line.
Post made a big marketing mistake by naming their product “Country Squares”. The name evoked images of unsophisticated country hicks. Popular culture, at that time, was evolving beyond hoakey, homespun imagery. The public embraced the hip mindset of “The Beatles”, and the commercial revolution that promoted the Madison Avenue version of pop culture.
Kellogg’s had done their homework well. The product name is a stroke of genius. It practically rolls off the tongue. The mental image of a toaster popping up with a hot treat comes immediately to mind, too. Many people think of Pop Tarts even when a box of another company’s toaster pastries are in the pantry. It has become one of those iconic names for a product in the same way that “Kleenex” is often used interchangeably by people for any brand of facial tissues.
Pop Tarts were originally unfrosted because icing would melt inside of a hot toaster. The formulation for a melt-resistant frosting made its debut in 1967. This completed the evolution of the toaster pastry to its present, familiar form.
During Pop Tarts’ 52-year history, I’ve probably purchased three or four boxes, altogether. Those were all packages from the mark-down bin for products nearing their expiration dates. I’m not sure why I bought them, I still don’t enjoy eating them. Maybe it’s because of advertising.