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Why We Don't Need a Pop-Tarts Store

Pop-TartsFrom my recent tirades against Go-gurt and Vitaminwater, you probably assume I’m an organic-only, vegan, health food nut. Au contraire. I actually love candy, ice cream, and other sweet treats. But I still can’t stand the idea of a Pop-Tarts Store.

Yes, those packaged breakfast pastries now have a flagship store of their own right in the center of New York’s Time Square.

As The New York Times points out, the idea behind what its promoters are calling “Pop-Tarts World” is to bolster the brand. After all, “as a breakfast food, these pastries have neither the nutritional cachet of cereal nor the tuck-in-a-pocket ease of a breakfast bar. As a snack, they’re not quite sweet like a cookie, nor savory like a cracker.”

In other words, Pop-Tarts needs an image overhaul to appeal to today’s kids.What better way to do that than to create a destination store — much like M&Ms and Hershey’s have done? The idea isn’t so much to sell merchandise (although they sure do that), but rather to market the brand.

A Pop-Tart store doesn’t sound like fun to you? Clearly, you haven’t pondered the possibilities. But Kellogg’s execs sure have. They’ve come up with a number of creative ways to lure visitors, including a cafe which will serve “the Fluffer Butter,” a pseudo-sandwich of two Pop-Tarts frosted fudge pastries with marshmallow spread in the middle (gag!), as well as “Pop-Tarts Sushi.” What’s that? Three kinds of Pop-Tarts minced and then wrapped in a fruit roll-up (double gag!)

Visitors will be able to design their own Pop-Tarts. As if that isn’t enough, the store plans to put on a Pop-Tarts-themed light show hourly. Computer screens in the store will provide customers access to Pop-Tart video games as well as PopTartsWorld.com.

I won’t serve my kids Pop-Tarts so I certainly don’t plan to take them to the store. But the bigger issue is I don’t want to support the broader marketing of sugary foods to kids.

In June, the Federal Trade Commission busted Kellogg’s for making false health claims about cereals such as Rice Krispies and Frosted-Mini Wheats. I’m not sure how Kellogg’s gets away with calling Pop-Tarts a “good source of 6 vitamins & minerals.” Have you looked at the list of ingredients in a Pop-Tart lately? And did you know they now come in flavors such as “Frosted Cookies and Creme” and “Hot Fudge Sundae?” As far as I can tell, they’re not a good source of anything except sugar and lots of artificial ingredients.

Call me cynical, but creating a destination store to market junk food to kids seems like a neat way to circumvent rules that limit advertising junk food to kids.

I’m not saying I have never let my kids eat junk food, but I certainly don’t want to send them the message that junk food is fun and worthy of a family afternoon outing. Do you plan to visit “Pop-Tarts World?”

Photo: wikimedia/Scott Ehardt

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