Pop-Tarts is a brand of toaster pastries that the Kellogg Company introduced in 1964. Pop-Tarts have a sugary filling sealed inside two layers of thin, rectangular pastry crust. Most varieties are also frosted. Although sold pre-cooked, they are designed to be warmed inside a toaster or microwave oven. They are usually sold in pairs inside Mylar (previously foil) packages and do not require refrigeration. Pop-Tarts is Kellogg's most popular brand to date in the United States, with millions of units sold each year. They are distributed mainly in the United States, but also in Canada, the United Kingdom, Ireland, and New Zealand. Pop-Tarts were discontinued in Australia in 2005 and brought back in 2014 with two flavors: Strawberry Sensation and Chocotastic. Pop-Tarts are produced in dozens of flavors, plus various one-time, seasonal, and "limited edition" flavors that appear for a short time.
In the 1960s, Post adapted its process for enclosing food in foil to keep it fresh without spoiling—first used for dog food—to its new toaster-prepared breakfast food. Intended to complement its cold cereals, Post announced its new product to the press in 1963 before they went to market. Post called them "Country Squares".
Because Post had revealed Country Squares before they were ready to be put in the marketplace, Post's biggest competitor, Kellogg, was able to develop its own version in six months. The product, advertised by an animated, anthropomorphic toaster named Milton, became so popular that Kellogg could not keep up with demand.
Originally not frosted when first introduced in 1964, it was later determined that frosting could withstand the toaster, and the first frosted Pop-Tarts were officially released in 1967. The first Pop-Tarts came out in four different flavors: strawberry, blueberry, brown sugar cinnamon, and apple currant. As of 2021, there is a wide variety of Pop-Tart flavors, including hot fudge sundae, s'mores, raspberry, and cinnamon pretzel.
In 1992, Thomas Nangle filed a lawsuit, suing Kellogg for damages after his Pop-Tart became stuck in his toaster and caught fire. The case gained wider notoriety when humor columnist Dave Barry wrote a column about starting a fire in his own toaster with Pop-Tarts. In 1994, Texas A&M University Corpus Christi professor Patrick Michaud performed an experiment showing that when left in the toaster too long, strawberry Pop-Tarts could produce flames to about 1.5 ft (46 cm) high. The discovery triggered a flurry of lawsuits. Since then, Pop-Tarts carry the warning: "Due to possible risk of fire, never leave your toasting appliance or microwave unattended."
Pop-Tarts were introduced with fairly substantial marketing to the United Kingdom in the early 1990s. Chocotastic and Strawberry Sensation are available in most major UK supermarkets.
In 2001, the United States' military airdropped 2.4 million Pop-Tarts in Afghanistan during the initial attack.
In 2004, Pop-Tarts began a new advertising campaign, "Crazy Good". Characters that appeared often were a singing lizard and a group of children, dubbed "crazy-good kids", who commonly frightened the Pop-Tarts and caused them to be eaten or chased away. The sound design and signature "TaDa" opening and closings were created by Kamen Entertainment Group, Inc. The ads employ squiggly animation, surrealist humor, and non sequitur, all of which bear a strong resemblance to the signature work of animator Don Hertzfeldt. One "crazy-good kid" in particular bears strong resemblance to Billy in Hertzfeldt's Billy's Balloon. However, Hertzfeldt was not involved in any way with these advertisements and in 2006 was considering possible litigation for stealing his work. In 2010, a temporary Pop-Tarts store opened in New York City. It closed on December 31, 2010.
As of 2014, sales of Pop-Tarts had increased for 32 straight years.