The Pop-Tarts Mascot Meme, Explained

One of the creepier tropes in the advertising industry is something called "suicide food": mascots who seem overjoyed to be consumed by humans. Charlie the Tuna, a fish who was endlessly scheming to wind up in a Starkist can, is a prime example, as is Pollo Campero's happy camper(o) chicken. Other iconic, yet disturbing, food mascots include Twinkie the Kid, Mr. Peanut, and the California Raisins, although in more modern times the M&M's Spokescandies have shown a certain reluctance to accept their fate. The Chick-fil-A cows, too, are a prime (beef) example of mascots actively discouraging their own consumption.

Now, however, we once again have a food that seems downright gleeful about the prospect of being eaten –- the Pop-Tarts Bowl's Edible Mascot. This strawberry Pop Tart, played by a costumed actor all tarted up in fabric frosting and sprinkles, danced around on the field throughout the game, but at the culmination climbed into a giant toaster waving a sign that read "Dreams Really Do Come True" and descended to certain doom to the tune of Donna Summer's disco hit "Hot Stuff." A cooked version of them emerged (minus the actor) to be eaten by the victorious Kansas State Wildcats. Not only did the Edible Mascot provide fuel for football players, but was also fodder for social media meme makers eager to weigh in on its darkly silly implications.

If you or anyone you know is having suicidal thoughts, please call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline​ at​ 1-800-273-TALK (8255).

Memes made much of the mascot's eagerness to be eaten

Anything as horrifying, yet hilarious as the Edible Mascot being devoured by a victorious college football team was bound to get memefied within minutes, and the dark humor did not disappoint. One person captioned a screenshot of the Pop-Tart as if it were a scene from "Hunger Games" and posted it to X (formerly known as Twitter) complete with an altered sign reading, "I Volunteer as Tribute," while another quipped that the mascot's flesh and blood now ranked right alongside s'mores and frosted blueberry as one of Pop-Tart's most popular flavors.

Of course, one parallel that was not lost on the meme makers was the line that could be drawn between the Pop-Tart's untimely end and certain sacred rites that have been performed throughout human history. The most obvious comparison is to the Catholic doctrine of transubstantiation, something that did not escape X's memesters, although ritualistic cannibalism has also been practiced by the Aztecs, among other cultures. According to one X user (who also happens to be a psychology professor), the willing sacrifice of a victim destined to be consumed by conquering warriors "isn't dramatically different from how some major religions are started." And thus begins the legend of the Edible Mascot: man, meme, and myth in the making.