Thursday, February 15, 2024

RIP William "Pop-Tarts" Post

"Two thin layers of dry, rectangular pastry with a sweet filling and frosting" doesn't necessarily sound like something that would become a taste sensation. But William Post, who died from heart failure this week in Grand Rapids, Michigan at the age of 96, was able to sell the idea and turn it into the now-ubiquitous Pop-Tarts breakfast (or anytime) snack.

I have to admit these are one of my favorite things in the world to eat. They have 60 flavors now, after starting out with just four: strawberry, blueberry, brown sugar cinnamon, and apple-currant. Heat them up in the toaster oven and spread a little butter on top to make it even more disgustingly delicious. That said, I almost never eat them these days because, whenever I do, I get a brief and minor case of the queasies.

According to the New York Times, Post "led the bakery plant that developed the first Pop-Tarts for Kellogg’s in 1964." He developed the product in just two weeks, with the help of his own kids as taste testers. When they gave the experiment the thumb's up, Post ignored the advice of many others who said it was not a good idea.

Pop-Tarts were going to be called fruit scones but a Kellogg’s executive riffed off the Pop Art movement of the time to coin the related name. Post also had the idea later in the 1960s to brilliantly add frosting on top. There's nothing worse than a frosting-less Pop-Tart. Those should never be on store shelves! That said, there was some concern that the frosting would melt in the toaster. I've always wondered why that doesn't happen. Perhaps best not to know!

Pop-Tarts continues to sell in massive amounts and the product stays very relevant on the pop-culture landscape. Look out later this year for the movie called Unfrosted: The Pop-Tart Story, directed by Jerry Seinfeld, and this Saturday Night Live skit shows just how darn distracting it can be to have a box of Pop-Tarts in front of you:

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