The Pop-In: When Pop-Tarts Become Ingredients

According to the official corporate description, Pop-Tarts are toaster pastries. But after decades of pushing the treat as a ready-made breakfast, Kellogg's seems to be repositioning the foil-wrapped snack as an ingredient.

Since the Pop-Tart debuted in the 1960s, cooking with Pop-Tarts has generally meant sticking them in a toaster or microwave. Nobody bothered battering them and tossing them in a deep-fryer, as Isaac Rousso did to claim a finalist spot in the Big Tex Choice award competition. While Rousso's whipped creamed and chocolate-drizzled concoction lost out to fried Frito pie for best taste honors, it seemed to be a crowd favorite at last week's awards ceremony.

Rousso used a S'mores Pop-Tart, one of 33 currently available flavors. Strawberry and brown sugar cinnamon are still on the roster, but they've been joined by hot fudge sundae, pumpkin pie and vanilla milkshake, making the Pop-tart shelf at the grocery store a veritable spice cabinet for shortcut cooks.

Kellogg's didn't return my calls or e-mails, but evidence that the company's hoping to add Pop-Tarts to recipes' ingredient lists came this summer in the form of a pop-up café in Times Square. The menu at Pop-Tarts World included celery sticks spread with peanut butter and dotted with chunks of Wild Grape Pop-Tarts; blueberry cobbler with a Pop-Tart crust; a marshmallow fluff sandwich made with fudge Pop-Tarts and a near-universally reviled "sushi," featuring bits of Pop-Tarts rolled in fruit leather.

"I physically could not bring myself to swallow it," a Serious Eats correspondent wrote. And, as Eater.com reported, a Fox News anchor who sampled the sushi was none too impressed with the potential of cooking with Pop-Tarts:

"Pop-Tarts now has a store in Times Square," Shep Smith said. "Pop-Tarts. I say we bring back the porn stores."

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