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How Did Kellogg’s Pop-Tarts Become an Iconic Breakfast Food?

Margaret Lipman
Published Jun 08, 2024
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Love ‘em or hate ‘em, Pop-Tarts are an iconic American breakfast food that epitomized the desire for novelty and convenience that consumers sought at the grocery store during the 1960s.

While they are far from a balanced breakfast, you have to admit that there’s something compelling about Pop-Tarts. The wide range of flavors, the exceedingly sweet fillings, the colorful frosting and sprinkles, the space-age packaging and impressively long shelf life, and the fact that they can be eaten hot or cold, toasted or untoasted, with the frosting somehow still remaining intact, have made them an enduringly popular addition to pantries across the country for six decades.

Considering the staggering array of convenience foods available in the 21st century, it’s easy to overlook just how revolutionary the Pop-Tart was when it was first introduced in 1964. Back then, the idea of eating breakfast on the go, beyond the confines of your kitchen, was quite a new concept. In the early 1960s, with the benefit of technologies developed during World War II to prevent spoiling and bypass the need for refrigeration, two breakfast-oriented companies were competing to create a shelf-stable toaster pastry. Kellogg’s and Post Consumer Brands both wanted to capitalize on this trend by creating a fun, colorful product that would particularly appeal to children and teenagers.

Kellogg’s was ultimately victorious in the race to develop (and, crucially, sell) the perfect toaster pastry, and the Pop-Tart debuted to immediate success in Cleveland in September 1964 before being released nationally in April 1965, initially in just four flavors: strawberry, blueberry, apple currant, and brown sugar cinnamon. Colorful ads in newspapers and magazines and catchy TV commercials quickly cemented the popularity of the Pop-Tart. Over the next decade, several innovations added to its appeal, including frosting, sprinkles, and more than a dozen new flavors.

It’s worth noting that although Post actually developed their pastry (Country Squares) first and showcased it to the press and a few test markets in early 1964, they weren’t quite ready to market their creation. During this delay, Kellogg’s quickly seized on the idea and pushed ahead with their own version, originally known as Fruit Scones but soon renamed Pop-Tarts in reference to the Pop Art movement.

”Crazy Good!”

  • Country Squares live on—sort of. They were renamed Toast’em Pop-Ups in 1965 and sold to the Schulze and Burch Biscuit Company in 1971. Though they have never achieved anywhere near the popularity of Pop-Tarts, they are still manufactured and appear to be doing well enough to be introduced to the UK market as recently as 2023.

  • Despite the plethora of pre-packaged breakfast foods (including many healthier options) now available to convenience-focused shoppers, consumers still have a soft spot for Pop-Tarts. Around three billion were sold in 2022.

  • You may have come across the recently-released film Unfrosted on Netflix, co-starring and co-written by Jerry Seinfeld. Yet, as Seinfeld and his co-writers freely admit, their film, though highly entertaining, is only very loosely based on the toaster pastry competition between Kellogg’s and Post.

WiseGeek is dedicated to providing accurate and trustworthy information. We carefully select reputable sources and employ a rigorous fact-checking process to maintain the highest standards. To learn more about our commitment to accuracy, read our editorial process.
Margaret Lipman
By Margaret Lipman
With years of experience as an educator, Margaret Lipman produces thoughtful and informative content across a wide range of topics. Her articles cover essential areas such as finance, parenting, health and wellness, nutrition, educational strategies. Margaret's writing is guided by her passion for enriching the lives of her readers through practical advice and well-researched information.
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Margaret Lipman
Margaret Lipman
With years of experience as an educator, Margaret Lipman produces thoughtful and informative content across a wide range...
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