Who is buying this stuff? Pop-Tarts®

who is buying this stuff?

Consumers talk a good talk about eating only healthy food.  According to marketing surveys, people are watching calories, checking nutrition facts labels and pretty much eating nothing but broiled chicken and raw spinach.  

Reality check.  Look around you.  Do you see only normal weight healthy people?

Reality check #2: look around the average grocery store.  Grocery stores aren’t in the business of selling products people don’t buy.  Shelf space is at a premium.  So when you see a giant 5 foot by 6 foot section devoted specifically to Pop Tarts, you know someone is buying pop tarts.  

All the media hysteria about childhood obesity and the horrors of !!SUGAR clearly hasn’t 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.   Non fat topping.  Thanks goodness.  that makes it OK to people who actually buy into that marketing ploy.  Estimated calories: 550.  Mostly sugar. 

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.

When consumers claim they look at the Nutrition Facts panel when shopping, maybe they mean just that.  They look.  but the numbers don’t necessarily affect their choices.  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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