Food & Drink

13 Things You Never Knew About Pop-Tarts

Wait, Andy Warhol is kinda responsible for the Pop-Tarts name?
10/02/2014 07:00am ET | Updated December 6, 2017

Believe it or not, Pop-Tarts turned 50 in September and our favorite toaster pastry is still selling -- and tasting! -- better than ever.

And with every great product, there's a great backstory. We did some digging into Pop-Tarts and found some interesting factoids. With some help from the folks at Kellogg's, we found out about the toaster pastry's somewhat controversial beginnings to the fame it enjoys now as a favorite on-the-go breakfast delight.

Here's what we learned:

1. The idea for Pop-Tarts came from a refrigerated dog food invention.

poptarts

Yup, you read that right. According to The Chicago Tribune, Post Co.'s pet-food division developed dog food called Gaines Burgers, "a novel concept because the dog food was semi-moist but didn't have to be refrigerated -- a convenience many humans coincidentally sought in their breakfast food." Post (not Kellogg's, but more on that below) took this innovative technology and put it towards "a fruit-filled pastry that could be shipped and stored without having to be refrigerated."

2. Before Pop-Tarts, there were Country Squares.

Post was the first to come up with a toaster pastry, calling them "Country Squares." When asked for a comment, Kellogg's told HuffPost Taste, "Post introduced Country Squares just before Kellogg debuted Pop-Tarts," and an article from The Chicago Tribune seems to agree.

Back in the '90s, The Tribune interviewed a retired Post food technician, Stan Reesman, about the Post/Kellogg timing debate. "They kept fooling around with it in our labs," Reesman told the Tribune, in reference to Post holding Country Squares back from the shelves. After Kellogg's introduced Pop-Tarts, Reesman said, "We could see the handwriting on the wall."

3. In the beginning, there were only four flavors.

1964

When Kellogg's first introduced the toaster pastry in 1964, it was unfrosted and came with four flavors: Apple Currant Jelly, Strawberry, Blueberry and Brown Sugar-Cinnamon. In 1967, the first frosted Pop-Tarts hit the shelves with four flavors, as well: Dutch-Apple, Concord Grape, Raspberry and Brown Sugar-Cinnamon. Today, there are over 30 kinds of Pop-Tarts (and many special edition ones).

4. And the toaster treat almost had a totally different name.

Originally, the Pop-Tarts product was called, "Fruit Scone." It was later changed, and a Kellogg's spokesperson told us that the "Pop-Tarts name was influenced by Andy Warhol’s Pop-Art in the 1960s." With that, the pastry's popularity took off.

5. The United States actually ran out of Pop-Tarts in 1964.

1964

A Kellogg's spokesperson told us that, "In 1964, the first shipment of Pop-Tarts sold out in just two weeks." Kellogg's issued the above advert explaining its "Oops!" and soon the Pop-Tarts were back on shelves again.

6. Pop-Tarts were also eaten sideways.

1964

If you look at the old ads and design of the Pop-Tart, it appears that you used to "cut along the dotted lines" and pulled them apart. The filling oozed out of the middle where you split it, but now you just have one solid pastry to heat up and then chow down.

7. Frosted Strawberry and Frosted Brown Sugar Cinnamon are the best-selling flavors.
pop tarts

Kellogg's swears to us that Frosted Strawberry followed by Frosted Brown Sugar Cinnamon are their most popular flavors, but HuffPost Taste did a death match and declared Cinnamon Brown Sugar the CLEAR winner.

8. The company makes about a billion Pop-Tarts a year.

Andrew F. Smith, author of Fast Food and Junk Food: An Encyclopedia of What We Love to Eat, Volume 1 estimates that "The Kellogg Company sells more than 2 billion Pop-Tarts annually." That's a lot of dough (in more ways that one).

9. U.S Troops once dropped Pop-Tarts on Afghanistan.

In 2001, the Air Force sent Afghanis aid in the form of Pop-Tarts and Herb Rice "to promote good will."

10. Pop-Tarts cereal was actually a thing.

This jingle doesn't do 'em much justice, but the comments suggest that the cereal had quite the following.

11. Kellogg's even made special edition college Pop-Tarts.

It's game day, and you know the drill. Throw on your jersey, buy a 12-pack and pick up a box of your special-edition college Pop-Tarts. Granted, this went away a few years ago, but it's still fun to think that you could eat part of your college experience.

12. There was once a Pop-Tarts store in Times Square.
poptarts

The Pop-Tarts World store opened its doors August 10, 2010 and closed not long after. When it was open on 42nd Street in NYC, the New York Times reported that the store was known for making Pop-Tarts "sushi," a light show that occurred every hour and a dessert menu to die for.

13. The biggest bombshell of all? Sales of Pop-Tarts have been on the rise for 32 years.

Though Kellogg's has had up-and-down quarters, The Wall Street Journals says Pop-Tarts has seen its earnings increase since 1982 because the pastry appeals to children, teens AND adults -- making it the winner of all things marketing.

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College Pop Tarts