Bill Post, Inventor of the Pop-Tart, Passes Away at 96

Bill Post
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Bill Post, renowned for his role in the creation of Pop-Tarts, the on-the-go breakfast sensation, passed away on February 10 at the age of 96. He led the Michigan baking team responsible for developing the iconic toaster-friendly pastry, featuring a fruity filling and distinctive space-age sweetness.

His family announced his passing in an obituary released through MKD Funeral Homes in Grand Rapids, Michigan. While they did not disclose the cause or location of his death, Mr. Post had been residing at a senior-living community in the city, not far from the baking plant where he played a pivotal role in refining Pop-Tarts in 1963.

Since then, tastes have evolved, yet the foil-wrapped snack has largely retained its original form, remaining a sugary fixture in family kitchens and school cafeterias. It has gradually encroached upon the territory of traditional breakfast dishes such as oatmeal, eggs, and bacon. Despite their limited nutritional value, with each frosted pack containing upwards of 30 grams of sugar, these pastries continue to sell in staggering quantities, generating approximately $1 billion in annual sales for Kellanova, the successor to Kellogg’s.

Whether eaten toasted or straight out of the package, Pop-Tarts have firmly established themselves in both the cultural and culinary realms, joining the ranks of processed-food icons like Cracker Jack, Twinkies, and Spam.

“In a 2015 interview with Adweek, Barb Stuckey, chief innovation officer for the food development company Mattson, remarked, ‘What Pop-Tarts did was use an appliance that had only been used for sliced bread.’ She added, ‘Breakfast pastry had been around forever, but making it convenient was truly unique.'”

The snacks have been satirized on shows like “Family Guy” and “Saturday Night Live,” with the latter featuring an ad for “Tasty Toaster Tarts,” mocking the brand as “the treat kids crave.” Comedian Jerry Seinfeld, who famously enjoys his brown sugar cinnamon Pop-Tarts with a glass of milk, is set to direct a Netflix comedy film inspired by the food titled “Unfrosted: The Pop-Tart Story,” scheduled for release in May.

Last year, the pastry even took on a surreal role in college football with the Pop-Tarts Bowl, which concluded with the “death” of the game’s mascot, an anthropomorphic Pop-Tart named Strawberry. As the mascot descended into a giant toaster, an oversized Pop-Tart emerged from a slot at the bottom and was consumed by the winning team. All that remained was a single googly eye, the last remnant of Strawberry.

Reflecting on the origins of Pop-Tarts, Mr. Post remarked to CNBC a few days before the game, “We didn’t anticipate that this thing would be as successful as it turned out to be. It exceeded all of our expectations.”

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