The untold truth of Pop-Tarts

Can you remember the first time you bit into a Pop-Tart? You were probably just a young tyke at the time, but that single bite must have rocked your world. The taste of the biscuity pastry with a sweet frosting and delicious filling no doubt left an impression on your taste buds and changed the meaning of breakfast itself.

One of those nostalgic childhood foods you still can't get enough of, Pop-Tarts have been winning over the hearts of eaters since they were first introduced to the American public. From strawberry to chocolate and everything in between, there's a flavor for everyone. While you may be familiar with their flavor profile, how familiar are you with Pop-Tarts themselves? Other than what aisle they are located at in the grocery store, here are the sweet facts you probably didn't know about Pop-Tarts. Be forewarned, reading this list may induce a massive sugar craving that can only be cured by a Pop-Tart.

They beat Post to the punch

The worst thing a company can do is tip off a new invention to a competitor before it has passes the trial stage. Luckily for Kellogg's, Post was a little too eager, and made that exact mistake. Before Pop-Tarts existed, Post was in the process of creating a shelf-stable, fruit-filled pastry. They unveiled their upcoming breakfast pastry, known as Country Squares, well before it was ready to hit the market. The press ate it up, and so did Kellogg's.

While Post was busy messing around with the product recipe, Kellogg's took full advantage and swiftly began working on their own. A mere six months after the announcement of Country Squares, Kellogg's had not only come up with their own fruit-filled pastry, but had already introduced it into the test market. While Post changed the Country Squares name to Post Toast-Em Pop-Ups, people were already on the Pop-Tarts band wagon and Post eventually sold the marketing rights to their product.

They are kid tested and dad approved... literally

When Kellogg's food technologist Bill Post developed the concept of Pop-Tarts, he needed a test panel to try them out. Who better to do that than his own kids? Children have a knack for being honest and Bill's were no exception. While they didn't care for many of the products their dad brought them, there was one in particular that they adored — and that was Pop-Tarts.

At the time, Pop-Tarts had not been named yet. Still in their trial period, they referred to them in-house as "fruit scones." Bill's kids loved the fruit scones so much they would beg their dad to bring them home. He knew right then that he had a hit on his hands, and he was right. I guess that means we all have Bill Post's kids to thank for this bit of breakfast nostalgia, and we're eternally grateful. 

Their name was inspired by an iconic American artist

How did Kellogg's take their fruit-filled pastry from the name Fruit Scones to Pop-Tarts? It's definitely a big leap, and it all had to do with one famous American pop artist. In the 1960s, Andy Warhol was reaching the height of his popularity as a leader of the pop art movement. Rather than come up with a homey sounding name like their competitor (Country Squares), Kellogg's wanted something with more of an edge. They decided to take a cue from pop culture and name their product after Andy Warhol's endeavors.

Pop-Tarts still continues to honor Warhol through their name and artwork. When Pop-Tarts celebrated their 45th anniversary in 2009, Kellogg's did a throwback to Warhol in collaboration with an artist by the name of Burton Morris. Taking inspiration from the pop movement, Morris showcased a collection of pop art style Pop-Tarts paintings at a gallery in Hollywood. Beyond the collection of paintings, Kellogg's also commissioned Morris to do the artwork for five different limited edition boxes.

This lucky city tasted them before anyone else

While Bill Post's kids may have been the first not on the Kellogg's payroll to test out Pop-Tarts, they eventually needed a real public market to be their guinea pigs. That's when they turned to Cleveland, Ohio. In 1963, Pop-Tarts released their product to the good people of Cleveland to find out how the public would react. As a test market, Cleveland must have more than approved of the pastry because they completely sold out of the 45,000 test cases of each of the four flavors they released (more on those later).

Due to the success of the test market release, Kellogg's dove in and officially released the product in 1964. Although they amped up their national production from 10,000 cases to 45,000 cases due to the success of the Cleveland trial release, they still sold out. Pop-Tarts were a success from day one.

They created a whole new use for toasters

Up until the 1960s, the toaster served a single purpose — to toast bread. That all changed once Pop-Tarts hit the breakfast scene. The marketing genius of Pop-Tarts was that breakfast could be ready in 30 seconds by simply popping them into the toaster. This became a huge hit with working families that needed a quick breakfast option. According to AdWeek, Pop-Tarts hit the shelves during a time when a lot of women were entering the workforce. As even more women went to work during the '70s and '80s, it was clear that breakfast needed to be hassle-free. Pop-Tarts were an excellent solution to that problem.

Nowadays, we make all kinds of things in the toaster. Items like frozen waffles, sweet potato toast, and leftover onion rings have given the toaster a whole new meaning. While someone may have eventually gotten the bright idea to use the toaster for something other than bread, the popularity of Pop-Tarts opened up the floodgates for toastable options.

But half of consumers don't even toast them

While people were ecstatic about the ability to cook a Pop-Tart into the toaster when they were first invented, times have certainly changed. People still love Pop-Tarts, but they have taken to new methods for preparing them — and that's commonly by not preparing them at all. In fact, half of the people eating them skip the toasting step altogether and simply tear into the packets. Creator Bill Post himself is guilty of not toasting these sweet breakfast treats. He admitted that when he samples them, he eats them right out of the box.

So why are Pop-Tarts fans skipping this once-crucial step? Is it because they actually prefer them that way, or because we're now in such a rush that even the few seconds it takes to toast one is too much for our crazy schedules? Everyone has their own reasons, and we're not judging. 

While there are a lot of flavors, these ones are the original

Pop-Tarts come in over 25 different flavors. They have them classified as fruit, chocolate, bakery, and ice cream — and within each of those categories is a treasure trove of deliciousness. There are even the special editions to hunt for throughout the year (and then stock up on once you fall in love). While Kellogg's has certainly outdone itself coming up with new flavors, when Pop-Tarts first began there were only four flavors: apple currant, strawberry, blueberry, and brown sugar-cinnamon. Apple-currant was soon changed to apple-berry — since most of their customers had no idea what a currant was and were reluctant to take a risk on the mystery fruit. All of these flavors where unfrosted and contained a perforated diagonal line down the middle so a single Pop-Tart could be eaten in two. You may even recognize a few of these flavors today.

Hurricanes increase sales of one flavor

If you're wondering what the most popular Pop-Tarts flavors are, let me indulge you. The flavors people love the most are frosted strawberry, brown sugar cinnamon, and s'mores. hat shouldn't come as too much of a surprise, right? While all of these flavors deserve as much attention as the other, in the event of a hurricane only one of these flavors will suffice — and that flavor, apparently, is frosted strawberry.

According to Country Living, during a hurricane Walmart usually experiences drastic increases in frosted strawberry Pop-Tarts sales. One store official stated that sales increase about seven times their normal selling rate. Since this product requires no heating and has a decent shelf life of 6-12 months, it makes sense. While it's hard to determine precisely what it is about this particular flavor that induces a Pop-Tart craving in the event of a hurricane, they're among bottle water, bread, fuel-containers, and batteries as one of the most sold Walmart products during hurricane events.

They've done collaborations with many popular brands

Speaking of Pop-Tarts flavors, they love to do collaborations with popular brands that make for stellar combinations. If you haven't had the pleasure of exploring their limited edition flavors, here's a quick look at some of the tasty concoctions they've come up with. There's the neon-colored Jolly Rancher release that came in three different flavors: cherry, watermelon, and green apple. There was a soda-inspired release where A&W Root Beer and Orange Crush fans could eat their beverage in Pop-Tart form. Then they came out with every coffee lover's dream with the release of two Dunkin' Donuts Flavors, the Vanilla Latte and the Chocolate Mocha. Of course, like everything else there was a Star Wars collaboration, featuring the flavor Lava Berry Explosion, but according to Thrillist this flavor has been discontinued (as, sadly, eventually happens with everything marketed as limited edition). Fingers crossed some of these tasty limited edition flavors get a chance to join the permanent menu. 

There's a reason you get two in one

Consumers may love getting a double dose in a single silver wrapper, but it does seem a bit odd to have two packaged together, based on serving size. According to the nutritional facts on the box, one Pop-Tart is a single serving (how's that for disappointing news?). So if one is a serving, why did Kellogg's package two in one?

According to Bill Post, the manager at the plant where Pop-Tarts were made, the dual packaging was purely an economic decision. The machines packaging the Pop-Tarts were expensive, and until they proved to be a lasting commodity, the company wasn't going to dish out more money than they needed to on the product. The company was able to cut their costs in half by doubling up on Pop-Tarts in a single package. We're sure glad they did because if one Pop-Tart is good, two are better. Whether you share the spare or greedily snatch it away from hungry eyes, it's nice to have the option of a second.

They are definitely flammable

Anyone who has ever used a toaster knows that if you leave something in there too long, it will burn. Pop-Tarts are no exception to the rule. What you don't expect, however, is it to spark up in flames. According to ABC News, that's precisely what happened to one home. A family filed a lawsuit against Kellogg's after a Pop-Tart reportedly burst into flames and caused over $100,000 in damages. The fire was apparently started after a woman left a Pop-Tart in the toaster while taking her children to school. This isn't the only incident of its kind. Another gentleman claimed that a Pop-Tart in the toaster caused a fire to break out in his kitchen. Due to these incidents and others, Pop-Tarts has put a disclaimer on the box to warn the absent minded about leaving the pastry unattended in the toaster. Perhaps all those non-toasting Pop-Tarts eaters are on to something.

You should never put cheese on Pop-Tarts

While you shouldn't leave a Pop-Tart unattended in the toaster, it's also a good idea not to top it with cheese. Of course, not all college kids understand simple concepts like this. According to Buzzfeed, Iowa State University student Chris Jorgenson experienced the consequences first hand when he thought it comical to eat a Pop-Tart with cheese. Like many millennials, he took to social media to post the joke. His post included a picture of American cheese between two Pop-Tarts and a caption stating "you ain't from Iowa if you never had one of these." Not everyone found it funny. As the tweet went viral, Jorgenson faced some angry responses and was heavily mocked on social media — he was even mocked by the Iowa State University police.

If you shouldn't put American cheese on a Pop-Tart, what should you put it on? Apple pie, a grilled cheese sandwich, or even a hamburger, but never a Pop-Tart.

Pop-Tarts will call you out

Of course, once the internet gets a hold of something viral, it gets taken to the next level. Jorgenson's post eventually sparked a disgusting Pop-Tarts sandwich meme. Social media users began posting pictures of foods synonymous with their state sandwiched between two Pop-Tarts, claiming you're not from [state] if you don't eat a Pop-Tart [as pictured]. Things like a Philly cheese steak sandwich, smoked salmon, a breakfast sandwich, and ketchup were shown served with a Pop-Tart.

Disgusting as it may be, Pop-Tarts didn't turn a blind eye. As the new meme took off, it caught their eye and they began fighting back. Many social media users that were posting the meme found themselves roasted by the Pop-Tarts brand itself. Whether it was the flavor combination or simple spelling errors, Pop-Tarts wasn't going to let the shenanigans continue without having a say in it all. It looks like if you're going to mess with the big dogs, then you should prepare to get burned.

Foreigners don't understand them

There are a bunch of American foods out there that foreigners just don't seem to understand. Corn dogs, biscuits and gravy, chicken and waffles, and you guessed it... Pop-Tarts. These deliciously sweet pastries that have become an iconic American breakfast junk food are completely lost on foreigners. Some consider it revolting while others don't understand how it's considered to be a breakfast item. One Reddit user had trouble grasping the concept of the Pop-Tart itself. It appears the user found them vulgar and couldn't understand America's fondness of the "cake-like candy." As Americans, we do tend to enjoy some sweet breakfasts like donuts, muffins, and sugary cereals. A breakfast guilty pleasure, the Pop-Tart is one quick fix that has been too yummy to pass up since it first hit the scene. It's OK, Pop-Tarts. They don't understand you, but that just means there's more for us!