The man credited with inventing the iconic Pop-Tarts breakfast has died at the age of 96.
William ‘Bill’ Post was working as a manager at the Michigan-based Hekman Biscuit Company, later renamed Keebler, when Kellogg’s outsourced an idea to the company: developing a breakfast pastry for the toaster.
In several interviews over the years, Post has said that many of his colleagues at the time were against his pop tart idea. In the project, they were known as fruit tarts, the name was changed to Pop Tart to capitalize on the pop art phenomenon of the 1960s.
‘There were so many detractors. Some of my good friends would say, “I don’t know Bill.” They would tell us it’s not such a good idea,” he said in a Interview 2021.
Post began working for the company when he turned 16 and took time off to serve his country in occupied Japan after World War II.
William ‘Bill’ Post, pioneer in the world of breakfast foods, died on February 10
According to CNBC, Pop-Tarts maintains annual sales of around $1 billion in the United States alone.
After returning from his military service, Post began to rise through the Keebler ranks. It was 1964 when Kellogg’s called with a demand for a toasted breakfast, according to his obituary.
Post told WWMT in 2021 that the challenge his idea faced was adding a second layer of dough on top of the filling. “To achieve this, I had to break every rule in the book,” he said in a tone corporate video produced by Kellogg’s.
Once this was achieved, it was just four months before the company manufactured enough samples, about 10,000, to send for analysis. The four original flavors were strawberry, blueberry, apple, currant and brown sugar cinnamon.
The flavors quickly sold out, prompting another 45,000 to be ordered immediately, which also sold out.
‘Those just flew off the shelves. Kellogg’s ran a large page ad: ‘Oops! We have made a mistake! Sorry, we’re out of Pop-Tarts. From then on, we’ve been up and running ever since,” Post he told Fox 17 in 2023.
According CNBC, Pop-Tarts maintains annual sales of around $1 billion in the United States alone. This year, Jerry Seinfeld will make his directorial debut in Unfrosted: The Pop-Tart Story for Netflix.
‘I used to bring a lot of things home, samples that I made, and they would ignore it, they didn’t like this or that. But they used to ask me: ‘Bring those fruit buns home.’ That’s what we called them at the beginning, internally. Fruit buns. “Bring some of those home, will you, Dad?” he told the Associated Press in 2003.
Post retired as senior vice president of Keebler in 1985 and later rejoined Kellogg’s in a consulting position.
After a few years of success, frosting was added and again detractors argued that it would create a sticky mess in toasters across the country. Post later said that it took him a day to perfect a formula that worked.
The original four flavors were Strawberry, Blueberry, Apple, Currant and Brown Sugar Cinnamon, new thick and fast flavors have since appeared.
Over the years, the Pop Tarts brand has expanded far beyond the original concept.
For the frosting, Post came up with the idea after running some Pop-Tarts through a cookie frosting machine.
He grabbed some of the frozen Pop-Tarts to show Bill Lamothe, a Kellogg executive in charge of pastry development at the company. Lamothe would become president and CEO of Kellogg.
“So I came to Battle Creek with a toaster in my hand and Pop-Tarts frosting,” Post says. “We put them in the toaster, showed him that it didn’t melt. And he said, ‘Wow, that’s really extraordinary.'”
Within an hour, Lamothe ordered Post to freeze all varieties of Pop-Tarts, a quick decision that exemplified Kellogg’s entrepreneurial spirit at the time, Post says.
“We just doubled the market with that decision made in one day,” he says. “That’s how clever Kellogg is at spotting trends.”
Over the years, competitors such as Pillsbury, Nabisco and Post have introduced their own toasted pastries, with varying degrees of success.
In a 2021 interview with WWNT, Post said he still ate pop tarts regularly, preferring strawberry ones and eating them cold.
“Bill would say, ‘I assembled an incredible team that developed Kellogg’s concept of a shelf-stable toast batter into a great product that could be brought to market in as little as ‘four months,'” his online tribute reads.
For most of his life, Post was married to his high school sweetheart, Florence, who passed away in 2020.
Bob Keith, a professor of nutrition and food science at Auburn University, says there’s nothing wrong with occasionally having a Pop-Tart for breakfast.
‘They are enriched with certain vitamins. They have some sugar, but they’re not really high in fat,” says Keith. “So if you were to eat that Pop-Tart with a glass of milk, for example, in the morning, it would be an acceptable breakfast for some breakfasts. this week”.