Ad critique: Pop-Tarts

Pop-Tarts Ad, Working Mother August/September 2010
“Less sugar makes mornings pretty sweet.”
Pop-Tarts ad, Cooking Light May 2010
“Baked with real fruit.”
Pop-Tarts on display in Walgreens
A paragraph of ingredients, 200 calories per ONE “pastry,” 38g of carbs
Does anyone just eat one pop-tart when they open the package?
*** Just a few weeks to go until I’m back in school and eating lunches again. All summer I have been blogging about food, kids, and advertising. Pop-Tarts are available in many school vending machines including one I visited. ***
Did you read about how Pop-Tarts World just opened up in NYC’s Time Square? Here’s is a Yahoo! News video that shows viewers the inside of the store and interviews people. The reporter remains pretty much a big fan of the whole operation (yeah for journalistic integrity) and interviews a man who said he ate 12 pop-tarts while hanging out in Pop-Tarts World!! I’ll do that math on that one: 2,400 calories. A day’s worth of calories for many people. Holy 456 grams of carbohydrates! Can you even imagine the blood sugar spike? On the road to diabetes in one day?
Another reason to watch the video is that they show a worker making “pop-tart sushi.” Basically they grind up pop-tarts and then roll the bits up in fruit roll-ups! I think I died a little bit inside when I read that.
I’m just going to say it: It is irresponsible for a corporation to open up a store like Pop-Tarts World when our country is in a “nutritional free fall” with cancer and obesity reaching epidemic proportions. Better would be free cooking classes using real food for any person that happens to wander past.
***

My mother never allowed pop-tarts when I was a child. There was a junk food ban at my house. My husband grew up in a family that ate donuts and McDonald’s and fluff (…and he was a chunky kid in elementary school). So as an adult he has bought the occasional box of pop tarts. And I admit that I ate a pop tart every now because they were in our cupboards. And the occasional one when I was pregnant and nursing (i.e. I was starving and eating everything in sight). Up through the first half of this year, my husband was still buying a box every month, but I was no longer partaking, mostly because I couldn’t justify the calories and they didn’t fiill me up. It wasn’t until I read this May article from Anna Lappe that I took a stand:

Take the Pop Tart. Among its tasty ingredients? Gelatin, made from by-products of the meat and leather industries; sodium pyrophosphate, commonly used in household detergents; and Tert-Butylhydroquinone (THBQ), a preservative, also found in household varnishes; three artificial colorants, including Red No. 40, banned in many EU countries because of human health concerns; and, palm oil. The second most-traded vegetable oil in the world, palm oil is found in most cookies, crackers, granola bars, and more. The global warming connection? Ninety-eight percent of palm oil is produced in Malaysia and Indonesia on former forests that have been cleared and burned, releasing tons of greenhouse gases. Steer clear of Pop Tarts and their processed food brethren and choose real food.

I confronted my husband and told him that he was not allowed to buy another box of pop-tarts. He whined about it so I dragged him to the computer and made him read that paragraph.

We no longer buy pop-tarts.

***

I don’t miss pop-tarts, but if I did I found a recipe in the April issue of Bon Appetit magazine that details how to make homemade “pop-tarts:”

The recipe
How to make them visually
Now THAT is something I want to eat!
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87 thoughts on “Ad critique: Pop-Tarts”

  1. I had the same convo with my hubby. Then he said: But LOOK… they come with whole grains now! lol.

  2. I've made that recipe from Bon Appetit, and it's lovely! I make my own jam as well, so that made it even better! I'm thinking about trying it again, but using puff pastry instead of pie crust.

  3. I never used to buy poptarts until they were introduced to my kids when they started daycare (which has a government food program that includes breakfast….. and serves poptarts once a week). They started asking for them… but I don't buy the brand-name ones. Nature's Path sells an organic brand of "toaster pastries" which are the same thing, minus the paragraph of unpronouncable ingredients. Still high in calories, so we don't buy them that often… but that was my compromise.

  4. My school offers free or reduced breakfast as well as lunch. I hate to say it but pop tarts are often one of the "choices".
    One small ray of hope is that I believe these pop tarts only contain one "pastry" per package (and students can only take one package).
    As a teacher of young children, I cringe when I see them make this choice for breakfast. In my opinion, there is NO nutritional value in pop tarts. Empty calories, sugar and fat. YUCK!

  5. in middle school, i used to follow up my nutritionally devoid, caloric lunch (think: nachos or domino's pizza) with a package of strawberry frosted pop tarts. i thought they were a healthier dessert than the cookies. sigh.

  6. I just read my kids' school lunch menu for August, one of the "breakfasts"is Poptarts and a cheese stick. We are the 5th most obese state in the nation, and this is what we feed our kids??!!

    When I give my kids healthy food as the only option, they eat it. Same thing happens when only junk food is offered.
    VALERIE

  7. Eating Poptarts for breakfast is better than eating nothing. (even a doughnut is better than nothing). I think getting kids to eat breakfast is a more important overriding goal.

    High fiber granola bars would be a better choice that's equally portable/convenient.

    And I ate junk – including two poptarts for breakfast, when I wasn't having sugary cereal – and was extremely skinny growing up. But I ate breakfast every single day and still do.

  8. School is back in session!! While I am proud of my elementary school for having an organic garden and actually serving what is harvested from the garden, I am ashamed to say that pop-tarts are on the district breakfast menu every day.

    Interestingly, pop-tarts are also available as a snack for the kids at the local children's hospital.

  9. My husband is a big Pop Tart fan. This past weekend, we made homemade ones, though, using this recipe http://smittenkitchen.com/2010/04/homemade-pop-tarts/. I've gone on a little no HFCS spree, so making these were a bit of a compromise even though he was all for it. They turned out pretty good, but need a bit of tweaking. Have to say, though, that I'd much rather make them than buy them. :o)

  10. I don't think there's anything fundamentally wrong with Pop-Tarts or the Pop-Tart store. What IS wrong, IMHO, is that we market a dessert item directly to children as a daily breakfast food (with the calories to prove it). It's not just the Pop-Tarts…it's everywhere. Chocolate-dipped donuts, sugary artificial fruit-flavored cereals, bagels the size of a hubcap slathered in sugary flavored cream cheese. All of these foods, if eaten in quantities, are "bad for you." I'm not even getting into the lunch offerings marketed as "snack time" food like Hot Pockets and mini deep-fried burritos.

    One of the things that bothers me is the "Blame McDonalds" mentality people have when they get up on their soapboxes–blaming a manufacturer or restaurant for existing and offering "unhealthy food". On the other hand, those who say, "It's your choice to eat there or not or select healthier food from the menu," are not entirely justified either.

    In my opinion, there are two things the food industry could do be more responsible and not have to change their products:

    1) Don't market a food as something it's not. A Pop-Tart is a pie, plain and simple. It's a dessert, not a breakfast. And just because a smoothie has "real fruit" in it doesn't mean it isn't a 500 calorie drink (alongside your Egg McMuffin).

    2) Cut-back on portion sizes. I don't blame McD's for offering a Big Mac. I do blame them for the "supersize it" campaign and some of the other nonsense things they still do (like offering one pie for 99c and two pies for a dollar).

    Even local restaurants put plates in front of you the size of serving platters just so they can charge $12.99 per meal. Sure, you can eat just half and bag the rest, but if I wanted food to take home, I'd order take-out. I'd much prefer that the portion size (and impact on my wallet) be more reasonable and responsible.

    Disclaimer: I ate a lot of pop-tarts growing up, so I'm not just standing on a soapbox here–I'm a guilty party. 🙂

  11. Did you notice that except for the Strawberry Milkshake (with its questionable fruit content) all of the flavors the box recommends are CHOCOLATE? Made with real fruit huh? Guess it does grow on a tree.

  12. I really don't want to make a comment either way on whether or not the pop-tart is "nutritionally evil".

    What I DO want to point out is that both news reporters for "Red Eye Show" seem to be incredibly sarcastic in everything they are reporting. If you listen to the over-all tone of the prelude and report, you can plainly see that each "newscaster" is going for laughs here a la Stephen Colbert on the "Colbert Report". I don't think that they actually want their excitement to be taken seriously or literally. When talking to the head Brand Manager, the reporter even seems to be poking fun at the product.

    MAYBE if these men were representatives of "The Today Show" or "Good Morning America", one could comment on their journalistic integrity. But my perception is: they're probably espousing a similar sentiment as the people thinking a store like this borders on the ridiculous.

  13. *Justin ~ NO Campaigning against platter sized plates of food at restaurants! My husband and I can go out to Olive Garden, Chili's, etc. and come home with lunch for our whole family of 4 for the next day! If they want to give me that much food for $12.99, then I will take it with a smile.

    It is all about choices. A PopTart, like Justin said, is a dessert and should be marketed as so. However adults know they are desserts and still chose to give 400 empty calories to their 7 year old for breakfast, as they are doing the same thing on their way out the door.

    But it is all about marketing and the all mighty dollar. As long as people are buying Reese's peanut butter cup cereal(!), then they are going to sell it and we will have commercials for it during Spongbob to increase those sales. Don't buy it and your kids can't eat it. Feed your kids breakfast and lunch, don't rely on the school system to do it for you. The 1st day of school here is tomorrow. Kids can eat a good healthy meal at home ~ or they can have the option of a donut, a breakfast pizza, or fruit loops from the school cafeteria. The choice really comes down to the parent.

  14. My kids walked by the computer while I was watching that and my 11 year old said "We should go there", LOL!

    My kids haven't actually had a Pop Tart brand toaster pastry. They've had the natural knock offs. The ones made without food coloring and such (I don't know which brand – I think there's more than one?). But even then, I can probably count on one hand the number of boxes of those they've eaten in their lives. They're sweets. They're not breakfast, they're in the same category as cake and cookies. Most of the time when my kids get to choose a treat, they choose something else. Toaster pastries just don't come up a lot.

    And . . . now I want one. Sigh.

  15. I don't remember ever eating a poptart. The vibrant colors, and the fact that they are marketed as breakfast food, has always turned me off. Mostly because I can't stand having pastries or donuts for breakfast.

    I disagree with the commenter who said, "Eating Poptarts for breakfast is better than eating nothing. (even a doughnut is better than nothing). I think getting kids to eat breakfast is a more important overriding goal."

    This is the mentality that a cousin of mine had with her child, who ate chocolate cake and apple pie for breakfast, and then would demand the same at lunch, along with 3 sodas a day. The family said he wasn't "a good eater" and allowed it on that very premise. They are all VERY obese.

    We are the adults. We buy the groceries and set the example. If a hungry child is offered healthy, delicious choices for breakfast they will choose those items, but OF COURSE if you're going to wave pop tarts in front of them, they will go for the sweet junky food. It's not a matter of getting them to eat breakfast. It's a matter of taking a stand about what the choices are. If the child refuses to eat breakfast because it's not junk food, then I think parents have a much bigger problem than they think.

  16. Actually Candy, those platter sized portions at the restaurants you named are exactly why my family won't eat at them. Like Justin said, if I wanted to bring a pile of food home I'd go to a take out window.

    It's not just the portion size-the amount of sodium and calories in those meals are HUGE. The waste is also just incredible.

  17. Thanks for posting the recipe! I never really cared for Pop Tarts as a kid–I always thought they were too sweet, and I didn't care for the crust, which is usually my favorite part of DESSERTS–but my husband likes them. He does, however, only eat one Poptart, and sometimes he doesn't even finish that, THANK GOODNESS. 🙂

  18. yup, Pop tarts are served for breakfast at our school too. Although, they are 1 pastry. And, nobody eats just 1 if they open up a regular sized package.
    It is crazy when you start to look at how things are packaged and what the 'serving size' is and how much is actually in the package/drink bottle.

  19. Wow, I can't even remember when I last had a poptart. I know I was craving them a week ago but didn't get them. I've seen commercials were they make poptart ice cream sandwiches. I almost died.

  20. Pretty much what Justin said. I think you had plenty of good to say here but the approach was off putting. Sure, you will get cheers from people who align with your thinking, but it was a turn off to me, who doesn't mind mixing some processed/junk along with consumption of healthful food at home. When you laid down the law forbidding your husband to purchase the occasional box of Pop Tarts you lost me. Sorry.

  21. I've decided that a vast majority of our problems: chemicals in foods, mistreatment of animals etc. is because we EAT TOO MUCH. If we seriously would stop being so freaking greedy, companies wouldn't need these chemicals to keep up because we could afford to pay a little more for real food.

    Also poptarts aren't the only dessert disguised as breakfast: Donuts, muffins (which are just cake), many cereals.

    We need to rethink breakfast period. It takes me just as long to fry an egg as toast a poptart. Really.

  22. great recipe idea… i'll have to save this one to the favorite pile! <3 to be honest even as a kid i never cared for the frosted poptarts.. it was too sweet (we had a junk food ban in our home too.. and to this day, some junk foods are just too sweet for me — thanks mom & dad!).

  23. I like the idea of natural variants of Pop-Tarts, because I honestly DO think grain and fruit make a good breakfast. I'd just rather have my grain and fruit without high fructose corn syrup. (Is that what they mean by "less sugar?!" Or is there sucralose hidden in the less-sugar boxes?)

    But I sympathize with the point above that getting kids to eat breakfast is important, and starting with what they know they like is a good approach. Casually move them to natural brands or homemade, sure, but don't ban them or you create an environment where the only obvious response is to hide them.

  24. After a major shift in eating habits during my late teens, I no longer eat poptarts- but growing up we were treated every once in a while (think beach vacations and weekend mornings) to poptarts. My brother and I have always maintained healthy, active lifestyles and have very healthy weights. There is nothing wrong with the occasional indulgence, the key to any healthy mindset is moderation- of all things! I feel as though it is this exact sort of uproar at a single breakfast treat that stands in the way of working to lower America's obesity rate. Moderation instead of flat out intolerance- there is no single person who has gained inordinate amounts of weight, developed serious blood-sugar or cholesterol issues, or dropped dead from eating the occasional poptart; but this animosity toward the brand vilifies it unnecessarily. Whilst I agree that Poptart World is ridiculously excessive- no one is forcing anyone to go there and their ad campaigns most certainly do not encourage eating twelve of these 'near-confections' at a time.
    I do love the inclusion of the home-made recipe in this post- I personally do not buy any pre-packaged foods and I love making alternatives for my family- but again I return to concept of moderation- I agree with the previous commenter- don't work to "create an environment where the only obvious response is to hide them" rather we should create environments in which our children can learn to include the occasional treat into their healthy lifestyle in a way that negatively impacts neither their physical, nor mental well-being.

  25. When I was growing up we never had PopTarts in our house, or sugary cereals for that matter. I couln't agree more that having a PopTart (or two) for breakfast is a poor nutritional choice for children. I'm very happy to say that my son (who is 9) has never eaten a PopTart for breakfast in his entire life! We try to avoid all artificial flavors and colors. Red #40 makes my son incredibly hyper and aggressive (picture literally bouncing off the walls – and I'm NOT joking).

    I have made "homemade PopTarts" on two occasions, and I have to say that they are delicious. But, I wouldn't serve them for breakfast. They would be more appropriately served as a dessert. My son and nephews scarfed them down!

    I appreciate your comments on McDonalds and PopTarts. I think it's important to take a seriously hard look at what our children are consuming and being marketed to. Obesity is a serious problem in my son's school. And – sadly PopTarts are offered for breakfast there…

    Lola

  26. Grace — I share your sentiment that moderation is key. Unfortunately marketing of food items like Pop-Tarts to children is aggressive and everywhere. If schools offer them for breakfast and in vending machines, kids aren't learning "moderation." I'd like to see the advertising stop and to see items like Pop-Tarts banned from schools completely because when they are on school grounds, the school itself endorses their consumption whenever the child has money to buy a package, which could be "in moderation" or every day.

    To the readers: What is moderation?

  27. We have poptarts as a camping treat. I buy two boxes before our first camping trip of the year and they are available until they are gone. At home nothing sweeter than HN cherrios or frosted miniwheats each mixed 50-50 (or less)with their unsweetened counterpart. Even then oatmeal with fruit (frozen banana works great to cool and sweeten it) or eggs with toast are the kids preference.

  28. I stopped buying Pop Tarts a long time ago, frankly they don't taste nearly as good as the marketing suggests. My husband was a big fan of the unfrosted strawberry flavor but I just cannot justify the chemical ingredient load to satisfy his occasional sweet tooth. I do think that some foods are not allowed, sorry, might seem extreme to some but there are some things I simply will not buy. Does my 6 year old ask for them? Yes, he also asked for Cupcake Pebbles until I explained the sugar stats on the back and he looked at me, horrified, and said "But they said it's part of a nutritious breakfast!" Yes, they say a lot of things in commercials that are not true. I too would like to see the agressive campaigns stop. Children in other countries are not subjected to untold hours of sugar campaigning throughout the year while watching Looney Tunes from the On Demand, why are ours? Yes I can ban TV, but I take the education route, I explain to my child why I believe this is not good for his body, I point out the sugar content, the nasty dyes and ingredients that I cannot pronounce then I find a substitute to suggest or bake ourselves. He ultimately gets an education and satisfaction of his sweet tooth.

  29. Asking what is moderation is like asking what is Normal? It is different for everyone.

    I like these posts. Not only do they generate traffic , but the comments are interesting in their diversity.

    I ate pop-tarts as a teen. My kids ate pop- tarts off and on. At one point it was hard to get my oldest to eat ANYTHING before school or for that matter for lunch at school. She still eats them, but she doesn't live at home anymore and I have no say over what she eats. She buys her own pop-tarts.

    The youngest, doesn't like pop-tarts, thinks they are too sweet. She eats a whole wheat waffle for breakfast with almond butter on it. Wish I could get her to drink a glass of milk with it. She is 16. At some point you have to give up some of the control and let them make their own decisions. (choose your battles)

    That is where the marketing comes in. This is big right now the marketing of products to young children. Isn't it called the nag principle or something like that? Make the kids want it with flashy ads and they nag their parents until they get the item for them.

    I don't think items like pop-tarts should be in the schools, because I think breakfast programs should feed real food to children. That is just my opinion. If their parents want to let them eat them at home that is fine.

  30. I also disagree with the Anon who said that having a poptart or donut for breakfast is better than nothing. For me personally, it really would make me feel worse than having nothing at all. It's not some abstract thing about how that poptart has all these artificial ingredients and might lead to health problems years in the future if I eat them too often. No, it's that if I have poptarts for breakfast I WILL feel sick in an hour or two. That simple.

    I have issues with my blood sugar. I have since I was a kid. If I eat sugary cereal, donuts, pastries, etc. for breakfast and with no protein, my blood sugar spikes, gives me a headache, and then I crash. If I eat nothing, I still feel bad, but it's more a slow decline into lethargy rather than a dramatic head rush and then crash.

    I learned this through years of trial and error. I do fine with healthier cereals like Kashi's line, or oatmeal, or eggs or meat. I can have pancakes or waffles, but I actually NEED the sausage with it or I'll be sorry. Just sugar *really is* worse than nothing at all.

    I think it's awful that school lunches serve poptarts for breakfast. That would have messed up my whole morning if that's how I ate when I was a kid. (Good thing I had the privelege to eat breakfast at home.) On the other hand, even if some kids would feel fine having nothing but sugar for breakfast, having a healthy breakfast certainly wouldn't HURT them, would it? So for the sake of the kids that would have horrible blood sugar spikes after eating such a breakfast, why not serve healthy, balanced breakfasts instead?

    I actually really love the poptarts commercials where the kids are making ice cream sandwiches out of them. That's portraying them as what they should be, a dessert. Something you eat AFTER a proper meal, not in place of (and eating sugar for breakfast pretty much is replacing a proper meal with just eating dessert).

    Also, when I was a kid, I loved Pilsbury Toaster Pastries. The commericals are right, they are MUCH better than poptarts. Still junk food, and should not be eaten by themselves and count as a proper breakfast, but they are YUMMY!

  31. i buy pop tarts. I also buy cookies, and candy bars and other junk food. However my family eats very healthy meals and my children are very active, as are my husband and myself. Therefore I have no problem with my kids having junk from time to time. Moderation being the key. My 7 & 8 year will split a package of poptarts and the box lasts a month or so while niece(8) will eat a box in a day. I grew up in a house where all junk food was outlawed and i would pig out at friends homes it is for this reason that i buy them but have taught my children how to enjoy them without over doing it

  32. @Anonymous 10:28, I hear what you are saying about personal responsibility. Companies are capitalizing on our inability to control ourselves with our food intake, and that is perfectly legal. However there is a growing group of people (including me) who believe that the body craves nutrition and when you eat foods that have little nutrition, the body sends out the call to eat more, even if you have over consumed empty calories. And supplements just don't cut the mustard as REPLACEMENT of the nutrients that you get from food, even if they are a good SUPPORT to an already healthy diet. This creates a cycle where you are eating too many calories that your body is storing as fat, but you need to eat more and more of them to get the nutrients and vitamins that your body needs for adequate health.

    That's my beef with processed foods. When schools serve this junk they are TEACHING kids that this is an appropriate breakfast. And they are teaching parent's too "if my kid eats this for breakfast at school it must be okay'. There are still lots of people who don't know that school lunches are controversial. So now that we have taught kids that this is an okay thing to eat, they are going to eat foods like this all the time and as they grow into adulthood. And when their body runs out of nutrients the hunger message goes out because the body needs more than just calories and carbs and sugar. When I switched to eating non processed foods, I completely stopped craving snacks and lost 12 pounds.

    We are a nation that is OVERFED and yet MALNOURISHED. Our government is complicit it propping up the food industry with subsidies for corn, wheat and soybeans that are paid for by your tax dollars. There is a bit of personal responsibility here, but there is a bit of governmental responsibility in my opinion too.

  33. I never buy Poptarts, but my husband does sometimes. Our kids are never allowed to have them for breakfast, but we will sometimes let them have 1 (not 1 pack, one poptart) for a snack or desert in place of a cookie. As soon as we get our diet completely switched around (going all nature, organic, gluten free, dairy free)they won't be having any.

  34. Pop Tarts are not food. Period. I think it's highly unethical for companies to make this crap, much less market it to kids (hear that, Kellogg's?). As for schools allowing junk like Pop Tarts in vending machines and serving them for breakfast…..why do parents tolerate that? Speak up for your kids' sake and don't give up until it stops! I realize many of you are speaking up and kudos to you for standing up for your kids' well-being!

    Where Women Cook, I think Mrs. Q is banning Pop Tarts from her household because her son is getting to the age where he soon will start noticing what mom & dad are eating and she doesn't want him to get the idea that Pop Tarts are endorsed by his parents. Mrs. Q, please correct me if that's not so. I don't mean to put words in your mouth.

    As for what constitutes moderation, I think that definition is highly personal. I will tell you this, though….anything that I consume (or feed to anyone else), even in moderation as a treat, is going to be real food, the very best quality I can find and afford, not some over-processed, over-sugared, petrified fruit of questionable origin slammed between 2 slabs of federally subsidized sawdust. I do reserve the right to eat a Pop Tart if I'm ever stuck in a bomb shelter without a can opener during a nuclear holocaust. I would have to be that desperate.

    Me, militant? Yah (verbally militant, that is), because this issue is truly THAT important to me. If you have a different opinion, that's perfectly OK in my book. I'm just glad you're following this blog and I will always read and think about what everyone has to say.

  35. We've never been big with the PopTarts; a rare box here and there – succumbing while hungry in the grocery store and one of the kids sees a new flavor.

    My kids love sweets and so do I. Fortunately, we've inherited "skinny" genes, so weight is not the motivating factor for "them." I'm not that lucky.

    Thanks for reiterating how many unhealthy elements the product contains, because, that IS a motivating factor.

  36. I've always wondered why they list servings like that. Few people eat only half of a prepackaged item like that. This one muffin i bought (single-serving package) was 200 calories per serving, but a serving was only half a muffin. Who eats half a muffin?

    I do eat poptarts, but only the unfrosted kind. the frosting is always too sweet.

  37. My 2 year old recently started attending a daycare center (I should mention that it is privately owned by the hospital I work for..). After the first day I noticed that pop tart's are on the breakfast menu!!! It makes me sick, especially because I am carefully planning my kindergarteners lunch everyday and I am sending my toddler off to eat junk! For the record, I LOVE poptarts, but haven't bought them for my house since college, i occasionally eat them out of the vending machine, but my children had never had them!

  38. I think it's a good idea to separate the discussion of food at home from food at school.

    Food at home can easily come with education. I'm a parent who feels that forbidding foods often creates a self-control problem later, once the parent can not easily control what their child eats. My daughter is able to eat most things, but we talk about what is in them and why they are not healthy or "real" food. She has learned to balance her meals, and she has also learned how her activity level impacts what she should eat. I hope this type of information will help her stay healthy as she continues to grow.

    However, I think that having lots of junk food available at schools is teaching kids that the adult world thinks those junk foods are appropriate things to eat for meals. I don't think schools should be allowed to send that message to students. I think there should be much stricter regulations for food offered at schools, and that it should really all be healthy stuff.

    Of course, as long as our country is run by corporations, it's just a dream.

  39. Have you seen the Pop-Tarts commercials? They suggest making Pop-Tart ice cream sandwiches! Sugar and fat on top of sugar and fat, sandwiched with an extra layer of sugar and fat. Even I (a moderate junk food eater) cringe at the thought.

    I would think if you wanted to make homemade pop-tarts, it would pretty simple to do so with a sheet of puff pastry and your favorite jam. You could probably even freeze them and re-heat in the toaster if that's what floats your boat.

  40. I don't think that having a Pop-Tarts store is inherently wrong or something that shouldn't be allowed. Times Square also has stores devoted to M&Ms and Hershey's (I've visited both of them) and they are a tourist attraction, someplace where you go to buy themed merchandise and see things like the Giant Wall with every color of M&Ms in existence. They're not something that anyone with any sense bases their nutritional decisions on.

    Next time my daughter and I are in NYC to visit family, we'll probably check out Pop-Tarts World just for the novelty of it. However, that doesn't mean that when we get home, I'll start buying Pop-Tarts at the grocery store, any more than I regularly buy soda or candy or fruit roll-ups, because I know they aren't real food. They're a treat that we have maybe once or twice a year, and that's how they'll stay.

  41. A note about gelatin:

    Gelatin is a derivative of collagen found in animal bones, and is formed by boiling the bones. There is nothing inherently weird or gross or wrong about that, if you eat meat. Don't you think it best to use the entire animal rather than just taking the choice cuts and throwing the rest away?

    Here's what else you get when you boil bones: stock. Chicken bones plus aromatics plus bouquet garni equals chicken stock, which is the base for every French sauce you've ever eaten. Do the same with veal bones and you get white stock, which you also use as a base for the Mother Sauces. Roast the veal bones first and you get brown stock, which gets used in gravies, stew bases, and sauces for beef dishes where you want that roasted flavor to come through.

    People react pretty viscerally to the idea that gelatin = animal bones but that same gelatin is in pretty much every amazingly delicious meal you've ever eaten in a restaurant.

  42. HMM, guess I am the bad mom, lol. we do have pop tarts in the house. They are a semi rare treat. I buy (on average) 2 boxes per month for three kids. My kids only eat one at a time and mostly for breakfast. They eat it with some fruit and a glass of milk or water. And yes, it is a better breakfast than nothing, but should not be offered daily.

    The key is moderation. I have been known to eat cake for breakfast, it is our birthday treat. It is our job to educate our children, not the marketers. We have talked about ingredients and calories in most of our food choices. I want my children to make educated choices, not just eat what I say because I say.

  43. "I confronted my husband and told him that he was not allowed to buy another box of pop-tarts. "

    That's where you lose me.

    I am a huge proponent of eating natural foods. But the moment you tell another adult what they are "allowed" to do – that's the moment you lose my support. If you show him the information and you agree to make a change – that's one thing. But having standards in a relationship that "allow" or "disallow" is another entire conversation. You do not own him. It has to be a mutual decision, or it's dictatorship.

  44. Here's the thing. It's easy to say, as a parent who buys the breakfast foods for the house, "No, we're not buying that today. It's junk." And I do, though I would also feel comfortable saying yes once in a great while (e.g., for breakfast on someone's birthday, if he wanted–but I'd still be more likely to choose an all-natural brand).
    But if you have to rely on the school breakfast program–and I'm willing to bet that most of the kids who eat school breakfast are getting it free–there is no other choice for your child besides going hungry until lunch, which may be five more hours. There is nothing inherently wrong with a 500-calorie breakfast (for, say, a growing tween having milk alongside this); the problem is that the ingredients are JUNK.
    But the school, instead of offering real nutrition, is making the same choice the poorest parents often make: as much food as possible for the least amount of money.

  45. Anonymous – I'm assuming you haven't been married. Here's a little background: my husband loves to grocery shop and so do I. Before we had a kid, we'd go together and it would be fun. We go back and forth about food items each other buys. Let me give you a different example: because of my love of cookies, my husband and I vowed to have a "cookie ban" more than five months ago. That means no buying or baking cookies. I have broken the ban once. My husband said "tsk, tsk, tsk" and reminded me of our cookie ban. And then this weekend he went out and came home with a package of cookies (Matt's). So we go back and forth! It's not a food dictatorship!

  46. I'd argue that eating a pop-tart for breakfast ISN'T better than eating nothing at all most of the time. If you are a malnourished child and you have nothing else available EVER except for a poptart than sure, you need calories of any kind.

    However for the average American child and adult, it's probably healthier on their bodies to skip breakfast once in a while over eating a pop-tart that day.

    Skipping breakfast makes you sleepy and lethargic and the hunger can make you lose concentration. Having a poptart breakfast will give you a crash after the rush that is much worse than the lethargy of skipping an occassional meal. And you can forget about concentration. When you are in the classroom you can visibally SEE it. There is a huge difference between the kids I see eating a sugared, chemical non-breakfast and the kids eating other types of breakfasts.

    I'm sorry but if the choice is to skip breakfast once a week or eat a poptart once a week, I'd bet good money that most of us AND our kids would have a healthier bodily response from the occassional breakfast fast.

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