Featured “food”: Pop-Tarts®

who is buying this stuff?

who is buying this stuff?

Well, I never said I would only feature healthy food.

Seriously, all the talk about healthy eating and childhood obesity and the horrors of !!SUGAR!! doesn’t seem to have hurt Pop-Tarts® sales.  And they’re not just for breakfast anymore.  The Pop-Tarts® website has helpful recipes using Pop-Tarts® as an ingredient.  You can make a sandwich — Chocolate-Cherry Whipped Sammie — using 2 Hot Fudge Sundae Pop-Tarts, 2 TB hot fudge sauce, 6 maraschino cherries and 1/2 cup non-fat whipped topping.   Thankfully, the non-fat whipped topping makes this mess OK to eat.  Some people may actually buy into that marketing ploy.  Estimated calories: 550.  Mostly sugar.  According to the website, it’s “an absolute masterpiece of yumminess.”  

Pop-Tarts started out as simple toaster pastries with fruity filling, without frosting, in 1964.  There were 4 simple flavors: strawberry, blueberry, apple and cinnamon sugar.  Frosting came along a year later, and now we have more than 2 dozen flavors, including Cookies & Creme, Chocolate Fudge, Birthday Edition, Red Velvet and Confetti Cupcake.  Just the thing any parent wants to feed their child before school.  Not.

Well, apparently someone is buying this stuff.  My humble grocery store has an entire wall devoted to Pop-Tarts®, at least 30 square feet jam packed with brightly colored boxes.  Far less square footage is devoted to, say, peanut butter or oatmeal or bagels.

Let’s look at the ‘Nutrition’ Facts panel for the healthier-sounding Gone Nutty Peanut Butter variety:

  • 200 calories
  • 16 grams sugar
  • 3 grams protein
  • 1 gram fiber
  • 6 grams fat

Even the peanuts (the 5th ingredient listed, after 3 kinds of sugar, right before #6, another sugar) don’t help with the protein content.  Are they that different from the Hot Fudge Sundae Pop-Tarts?  No:

  • 190 calories
  • 12 grams sugar
  • 2 grams protein
  • 2 grams fiber
  • 5 grams fat

What’s my professional opinion about these?  They weren’t a great choice for breakfast in 1964; they’re even less so now.  It’s not something I’d ever recommend for breakfast, certainly not for a child.  The only possible rationale for eating one of these: you’re running a marathon or doing an Iron Man competition; it’s the last 10 miles and you’re about to collapse; the only thing that appeals to you (and that you could eat while still running or biking) is a Pop-Tart.  It is at least a source of quick energy.


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