Wake Up Call

The $300 Debate Over Pop-Tarts

I recently saw two grown men in a college science class get into a heated debate over which Pop-Tart flavor was the best. One man insisted that strawberry was the best, the other that brown sugar cinnamon ruled supreme. The debate raged for at least 20 minutes and it was clear that they were unable to come to a consensus on the issue.

Brown Sugar was so sure of his position that he was willing to stake $300 dollars (I have no idea how they arrived at that number) on the outcome of an informal survey of the class. The Strawberry partisan immediately agreed and it was put to the vote.

Brown sugar cinnamon won by a sizable margin. Strawberry supporters expressed shock and dismay at the results. Shock that anyone could vote against strawberry and dismay that they had to share oxygen with brown sugar cinnamon supporters. I'm actually surprised that there wasn't a call for a recount.

I was shocked because I had no idea that Pop-Tarts retained such sway over the hearts of men. I assumed that, like much of my childhood, they had faded from the public consciousness; gone the way of Teddy Ruxpin and slap bracelets. Apparently not, informal polls at home and at our staff meeting confirmed that Pop-Tart consumption is alive and well and that people are very attached to their flavors. Indeed this research revealed that there exists a practically sectarian divide between apostles of strawberry and those of brown sugar cinnamon.

Full disclosure: I've never really been a fan o Pop-Tarts.

When I was young my parents, in their infinite wisdom and mercy, refused to buy them. Pop-Tarts were a rare treat to be bartered for from friends or acquired in the morning after a sleepover. Their contraband nature and Kellogg's full court advertising made them nearly irresistible. I know I ate Pop-Tarts when I was young but I don't actually remember what they tasted like. I'm assuming that's because I shotgunned them down too fast to register.

Then my parents got a Sam's Club membership and realized they could buy a flat of Pop-Tarts for a couple bucks and feed my sister and me for a whole month. At first I was overjoyed, it was the culinary equivalent of asking for a pony every year for Christmas and then getting an entire stable of ponies. However, after eating Pop-Tarts for a couple of weeks... the novelty wore thin. They never seemed like they had enough filling or frosting and I rarely had enough time to properly toast them. In fact I'm not sure if there was a way to properly toast them. Too long and they would burn, slightly too long and the insides became molten lead. Too short and the stuff tasted like two piece of cardboard coated in an insufficient amount of frosting.

My parents stop buying them and I never looked back. I put them in the same class as Count Chocula and Lucky Charms: Breakfast foods that had terrific ad campaigns but that were as bad for you as they tasted.

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