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.