Did You Know Pop-Tarts Got Their Start in Cleveland?

Steve DiMatteo History

Pop-Tarts on Plate

If you're a fan of Pop-Tarts, you've essentially got Cleveland to thank for their existence (and really, you should be thanking Cleveland for a lot - like traffic lights!).

Brands use specific cities as test markets all the time, and in September of 1964, Cleveland was the test market for the four original flavors of the Pop-Tart (the Fab Four, if you will): strawberry, cinnamon sugar, blueberry, and apple currant.

In fact, the new breakfast pastry was so popular in Northeast Ohio, Kellogg's completely sold out of the 45,000 test cases they had of each flavor. And when the Pop-Tart went to market nationally, Kellogg's couldn't keep up with the demand, selling out in the first two weeks. 

The Origins of the Pop-Tart

As with so many other things, the genesis of the Pop-Tart came when Post - Kellogg's biggest competitor - created a breakfast pastry of its own (called Country Squares) using a new process for dehydrating food and keeping it fresh in foil, which was originally used for dog food (yum!). 

The problem for Post was that Country Squares weren't quite ready for the world, but the cat was now out of the bag. So in the race to get something to market, Kellogg's developed the Pop-Tart (originally called Fruit Scones) in six months, rushing the breakfast pastry to its chosen test market of Cleveland, Ohio.

Retailers were given the instructions to include the pastries as part of the baked goods, cookie, or cake mix sections but NOT anywhere near the cereal aisle, lest anyone mistakenly consider the Pop-Tart a substitute for cereal. That does make sense, as Kellogg's was looking to double up on its business here, not compete against itself.

Why Choose Cleveland as a Test Market?

Columbus is actually known as the fast-food test market capital, but the entire state of Ohio has enjoyed being test markets over the years, including Cleveland. Though the explanation that Ohio is "a place where people can be free to explore new ideas" is a bit much, as if that's somehow different than the rest of the United States, the real reason probably lies with geography and a diverse population that gives a company the best chance of seeing how a product might perform nationwide.

In the case of the Pop-Tart, Cleveland showed up and tore this intriguing new breakfast pastry off the shelves at a feverish pace, and the rest is history.

The Pop-Tart Renaissance

While we're talking about Pop-Tart history here, we would be remiss if we didn't mention how newsworthy the breakfast pastry still is. It's been a real roller coaster of emotions for Pop-Tart fans recently. College football's Pop-Tarts Bowl was a social media sensation, complete with a dancing Pop-Tart mascot that was consumed by the winning team. 

But on the somber side of things, the Pop-Tart's founder (or at least the guy who helped spearhead the effort to invent it), Bill Post, passed away not long after the Pop-Tarts Bowl at the age of 96. Maybe after seeing his creation reach its zenith, Post knew he had truly reached the mountaintop.

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