Strawberry Pop Tarts - © Kelloggs

Bill Post – Inventor Of Kellogg’s Pop-Tart Dies Aged 96

The man who helmed a blitz product development team in the early 1960s, which perfected the Kellogg’s Pop-Tart, has passed away. He made the original toaster pastry possible by developing a totally new manufacturing process…

William Post - © 2024 - Post Family

William Post (pictured left), (no connection to the Post Cereal family) was plant manager at a cookie factory in Glen Arbour, Michigan, in the early 1960s. Kellogg’s approached him, at what would later become the Keebler Company, and asked, “if he thought it would be possible […] to create a new product they had in mind.”

Kellogg’s wanted to market a shelf-stable turnover pastry that could be heated in a regular home toaster. On top of the pastry, itself – literally – they wanted it to be frosted. And that might have proven a whole separate problem in the development of a pastry meant to be toasted vertically. But Post and his crack team overcame all obstacles and brought the product to market in a matter of months – when some insiders thought it might take years.

Considered the inventor

Post is widely considered to be the inventor of the Pop-Tart, though Kellanova (formerly Kellogg’s) said, in a statement, “He played an important role in co-creating the iconic Pop-Tarts brand and we are grateful to Bill for his legacy and lasting contributions to our company.”

Post, too, remained modest about his tole in the Pop-Tart saga. “It is at this juncture that Bill is often credited for having ‘invented’ the Pop Tart. To be accurate, however, Bill would say, ‘I assembled an amazing team that developed Kellogg’s concept of a shelf-stable toaster pastry into a fine product that we could bring to market in the span of just four months,’” according to the official obituary, on the Matthysse Kuiper DeGraaf Funeral Home website.

An entirely new concept

the Pop-Tart was an entirely new concept when it premiered in Cleveland, Ohio, 1964. At first, there were only 4 flavours: strawberry, blueberry, brown sugar cinnamon and apple-currant. But the variations have multiplied many fold since them. Pop Tarts went nation-wide the next year.

According to the Kellanova website: “Kellogg chairman William E. LaMothe, a.k.a Bill, had a vision. A vision of transforming a delicious breakfast into a toaster-ready rectangle that could go anywhere. So he hit up ‘Doc’ Joe Thompson, and his kitchen crew to create an ingenious hack on toast and jam. It was called ‘Fruit Scone’. But that sounded terrible. So we took inspiration from the Pop Culture movement of the day and renamed it [the] ‘Pop-Tart’.”

A raucous ride…

The Pop-Tart has been through moments of controversy over its healthfulness and safety in the toaster – but has survived all challenges. At the time this post is being written, there are 26 flavours of Pop-Tarts in production. And 7 varieties of bite-sized Pop-Tarts Minis.

Over the years, Kelloggs/Kellanova has received thousands of questions about the iconic pastries. Among the ones that keep ‘popping’ up:

Are Pop-Tarts vegetarian? Depends on how you define ‘vegetarian’. There are many ‘shades’. “Vegetarians may or may not choose to eat poultry, fish, dairy products, or eggs.” They are definitely not vegan!

Can you put butter on Pop-Tarts? By all means in fact, “Our fans love to put butter on their Pop-Tarts, which many say creates a whole new level of mouthwatering flavor.”

Are they microwavable? Yes! Place on a microwave-safe plate and zap for 3 seconds at a time until hot enough to suit you. (And remember that they can burn your mouth if they’re too hot.) “For additional Pop-Tarts preparation methods, refer to our product packaging or visit [the] Prep Instructions Page for more information.”

The end of an era

William Post passed away at the age of 95 earlier this week, at his home in Grand Rapids. Fittingly, perhaps, 2024 marks the 60th anniversary of the official commercial launch of the Pop-Tart.

~ Maggie J.