Offering A Toast To Pop-Tarts

Pop Tarts 02

I am a little depressed.  I just finished the last Pop-Tarts in the cupboard.  While many might consider it a cause for celebration that the vile things are no longer within the four walls, I come from a different place.

I was in on the ground floor for Pop-Tarts.  As one who grew up in the fabulously technically, scientifically and chemically enhanced way of living that we all enjoyed back in the middle of the 1960’s, I was (at least figuratively) there on Pop-Tarts’ opening day in 1964.

What a concept!  None of this old fashioned baked stuff that our parents had grown up eating.  This was unabashadly factory-created in a way that no doughnut ever could be.  And not only were they run off from the daydream of a mechanical engineer, they were made to warm up in the toaster for we who simply had to have instant breakfast.

Real instant breakfast, not that powered stuff from Carnation that you stirred into a glass of milk for a chocolaty shake as you dashed out the door.  Actually, that stuff had a hallowed place in the diet of the two kids in my house as well.  But this had the benefit of being actual food, not just something you guzzled down from a glass.

And Pop-Tarts had real staying power.  Not like the Space Food Sticks that came after them – which were sort of like long, soft Tootsie Rolls, but with something approximating actual nutrition.  Maybe that was why they had no staying power, despite their reference to space.  Pop-Tarts made no bones about what it was – “toaster pastry” could not possibly be mistaken for anything with actual dietary benefit.

And so came my lifelong love of the humble Pop-Tart.  A warm, cardboardish outer shell full of fruitish paste that was blazingly hot after popping out of the old Toastmaster.  The one with the three little swirls on the side.  Swirls make Pop-Tarts taste better, you know.

Once the creators added frosting in 1967, now we were talking.  Except that my mother would never buy those.  Her practical German self could not accept the idea of frosting that went into a toaster.  She saw it as decadent – like power windows that nobody needed in their cars.  Because we never bought them I could not explain that it wasn’t really frosting, it was a sort of edible ceramic glaze that was as durable as the finish on her Oldsmobile.

But I grew up and allowed myself the luxury of frosted Pop-Tarts.  Which fairly soon became the only kind you could buy.  For those who doubt the wisdom of the free market, just ask yourself if it did not make the right call in banishing non-frosted Pop-Tarts to the pages of slightly off-center bloggers.

And here I sit on a weekend morning.  Someone who has achieved some measure of success in life, married, adult children who have jobs and everything – eating Pop-Tarts.  And absolutely gushing inwardly about how grand life is!

I must explain that I allow myself this little bit of decadence only once or twice a year.  I am fairly choosy about which flavors are allowed in my pantry – which protects me from the mega sized boxes offered at my local SamsCo.  For some reason they only offer strawberry and brown sugar cinnamon.

I avoid the latter because, well, it might as well just be candy.  I guess enough of the old German rubbed off on me because candy for breakfast is just wrong.  The only thing that makes Pop-Tarts count as breakfast is the fruit.  I know, the amount of actual fruit in a Pop-Tart can probably be measured only with a micrometer, but hey – fruit is fruit.  So I vacillate between blueberry (with purple icing) and cherry (with pink icing) for my semi-annual fix.

I should add here that Pop-Tarts is a trademark of the Kellogg company.  Did you know that the thing separating a real Pop-Tart from all of those fakers out there is the dash between the two words?  Thanks, Kellogg – do you know how much of a pain it is to go back through a nearly-completed blog post to add a “-” between each Pop and Tart?  But being sticklers for accuracy, it just wouldn’t do to leave the impression that your scribe’s hunger for toaster pastry can be sated by anything but the genuine article.

Anyway, I forget where I was when I happened to be in the “breakfast aisle”.  I think Mrs. JP sent me for some rolled oats.  Because she actually cares about what goes into her body.  But I was being completely adult and responsible.  Pop Tarts – oops, I meant Pop-Tarts – were on sale.  I was making sound financial decisions, you see.  Look at how much money I saved us, honey!  I did not actually say that.  In fact, it is possible that I hid them in a lower cabinet, out of her normal view.  Not that I was afraid that she might take them, but because of that look I would get.  You know, the look that says “Pop-Tarts?  Really?” but without actually saying a word.

So here I sit.  The second one is half eaten now.  It is one of the cherry ones.  The blueberrys are all gone now.  I will soon revert to the bars made of nuts and seeds, all glued together with – something.  They are supposed to be good for me.  I eat them.  But as I nourish myself with healthy things I will secretly plot for the day when I am alone at the store and Pop-Tarts are on sale and I can be seven years old all over again.

I wonder if there are any cartoons on TV?

 

Photo credit: The photo of the steaming hot cherry-flavored Kellogg’s Frosted Pop-Tarts fresh from the toaster was taken by the author in a heroic display of delayed gratification.

25 thoughts on “Offering A Toast To Pop-Tarts

  1. An excellent read while eating a bowl of organic brand honey-nut o’s mixed with some nature brand of cocoa pebbles. Growing up, pop-tarts were a forbidden fruit.

    The last one I ate, years ago, had some sort of double-stuff in the middle. If a person can slug past the crust, pop-tarts are fun to eat.

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    • I think you have hit upon the secret. They are not objectively good – far from it. But they are fun. And as for the crust, maybe the best attitude is “Hey, it’s not kale.” 🙂

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  2. We were not allowed pop-tarts as kids, we saw the commercials, we begged our mother for years. Finally they must have been on sale because she brought a box home. We choked them down and never asked for them again.

    I am partial to actual food made by actual people, but thank you for doing your part to keep the pop-tart population down. If nobody ate them they would just be piling up everywhere.

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    • You buttress my theory that food tastes are not so much about the actual food as what you got to experience as a kid. Every time I fish hot ones out of the toaster I kind of wonder why I like them. But it is undeniable that I do. Now that you mention the angle of controlling their population, I wonder if I should take a more active part in this than I traditionally have.

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  3. I just finished my breakfast before clicking on your blog. Black beans with some sweet peppers and kale, an egg, slathered with melted pepper jack cheese. Not exactly healthy, but real food, though I did chase it down with some fresh strawberries and a good pour over coffee, from beans which I ground this morning. But if there had been some Pop-Tarts in our pantry, I might have made a different choice. “Edible ceramic glaze” – I love it!
    PS, since nobody here knows who I really am, I’ll confess that I have eaten many Pop-Tarts straight out of the box. Who needs a toaster?

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    • Ooooh, true confessions! 🙂 My daily breakfast is as healthy, if less elaborate, in the form of an all natural bar of some kind that my Mrs. found for me. When I confessed to her about the topic for today, she sweetly offered to pick up a fresh box for me when she goes out for some errands. I gamely refused, fearing the experience of too much of a good thing.

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  4. I passed a whole display of Pop-Tarts (see I did it right there) in the grocery aisle the other day at the supposed to be low price but it really isn’t grocery story, and thought to myself that it’s been a while since I indulged in these. I think raspberry was one of my favourite flavours, but certainly never chocolate. The dough is kind of tough though. Alas, encouraged by your written wit, I shall not pass them up a second time! Onward!

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    • They have been coming up with some intriguing flavors (or flavours for your northerners). I have held off. First, trying a new flavor would mean that I don’t get to enjoy a favorite old one, and second I am a little afraid that I might like some of them, thus feeding this most unhealthy habit. It’s bad, isn’t it, when buying a package of Pop-Tarts reflexively makes you feel like the guy drinking cheap vodka from a bottle in a paper bag – mustn’t let anyone see you. Oh well, moderation in all things, right?

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  5. Pop Tarts were a staple in my childhood in the ’80s. Later on, circa 1993, Toaster Strudel came out, with a little frosting packet that was actually real frosting-or at least a reasonable facsimile. I especially liked the apple cinnamon ones.

    I’m not much of a breakfast person in adulthood, I mostly stick to black coffee. And maybe a bagel to go with on weekends. 🙂

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  6. I’ve never eaten a pop-tart, but my mother let my little brother eat one occasionally, and he loved them. I’m surprised they still make them, ie that there is still a market for them., but we all have our junk food memories. I’m not sure those oat/nut/seed bars are much better, they just pretend to be.

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      • JP, I will give it some thought, perhaps if they come in cherry? I will be blogging next week on a book which inspired my zealous conversion to healthier eating and also a food review of a Harvestfest Supper – no pop-tarts in sight, but they may be better than the cherry pie we were served! My favorite 60’s lunchbox snack was Hostess chocolate cupcakes with the frosting in the middle and Twinkies, both came 2 to a pack, but we didn’t get those very often as they were expensive.

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      • Yes, the Hostess stuff was great! But then they went bankrupt and came back under new owners – with smaller portions!!! My relationship with them has never recovered. 😀

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      • Well JP Pop Tarts were on sale last week in Canada $1.97 so I bought a box. They didn’t have cherry, so I sprung for strawberry as the only other two choices were smores and chocolate. I haven’t actually tried one yet, as I am sick with a sinus cold (Day7 and surviving mainly on chicken noodle soup) and am waiting for my taste buds to return so I can savor the whole experience…although I might have to scrape the sprinkles off. I hate sprinkles. I shall report back.

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  7. Now I want a Pop-Tart as it’s been years and my mom would not permit anything that would gum up the Sunbeam to go into the slots, so I was relegated to “Plain Jane Pop-Tarts” … what a denied child I was, so maybe I ought to make it up to myself.

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  8. A sweet essay, JP (bad pun fully intended).

    I’m glad for your sake that you ration your intake to just a couple of times a year; I suspect that—like the infamous Twinkies—those Mylar-wrapped wonders do not really exist in time and space as we know them.

    You gave yourself away in your last line: this was actually an homage to your childhood—and though I have no proof, I suspect that had you been introduced to Pop-Tarts recently, your adult palate may well have rejected them.

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    • You raise a fascinating question – would food items like these survive if not for generation after generation of kids. Or maybe these would become like the cheap bottom-shelf vodka in plastic bottles – a sort of carb-delivery device for the budgetarily challenged. But as it is, these stay on the upper shelves and are not tremendously inexpensive (when not on sale) and people buy them anyway – probably because they all considered them a treat from when they were young.

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  9. Ah the humble Pop-Tart. I’ve never been much for milk, and Pop-Tarts have provided me many a fine lowercase “b” breakfast (Big B Breakfasts always involve eggs in my house) for many years without having to slop the stuff into my breakfast cereal. My favorite has long been cherry.

    Least favorite was the time I accidentally bought a box without frosting. Being stubborn, I just went back to the store and bought a can of cake frosting to apply once toasted. This hit too close to a toaster strudel for me (some assembly required) and tasted terrible with that crust to boot.

    An editor friend of my dad’s at nothing but Pop-Tarts and Mountain Dew for breakfast, daily, throughout his 40s.

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