Sunday, July 11, 2010

Those Tempting Toaster Pastries

I was just cutting out the coupons from the Sunday paper, when I came across one for Pop-Tarts. We don’t eat Pop-Tarts. We love them, but we don’t eat them. My kids have, of course, sampled them a time or two in their limited existences, but I can’t rationalize making them a staple of our diets. There’s too much research about the benefits of eating healthy, not to mention too much evidence of the results of eating junk food. (I have pictures of me in sixth grade if you need to see some evidence.) And it’s too bad that there’s so much press on good nutrition, because even when I was a kid this whole health movement was in its infancy and nobody judged you for Pop-Tarts in your shopping cart. In fact, I remember how we sprinkled straight sugar on top of our Frosted Flakes. Guiltlessly! Though not without waistline consequences. But, lay people weren’t supposed to consider nutrition back then.

For an example of how far we’ve come, last week, when my son was in summer camp, a friend of mine was talking about how crazy things were by Friday. She said that she had to wake up her boys, rush them out the door, and let them eat Pop-Tarts on the way to camp. And bananas. It was important to mention those lest the child welfare department launch an investigation into the unhealthy eating practices of her family. And the way she told the story was in the everything-is-so-chaotic-I’ve-had-to-resort-to-Pop-Tarts kind of way. Isn’t strange how much guilt and shame we feel over feeding them Pop-Tarts for breakfast, when back in the day the only discussion would have been over flavor varieties?

This brings me to my next Pop-Tart point. Have you seen the flavors they have now? My choices were strawberry, blueberry, or brown-sugar cinnamon. (A disadvantaged friend of mine had parents who only bought the unfrosted variety. She liked to sleep over at my house.) Now they have, S’mores, Hot Fudge Sundae, Chocolate Chip Cookie Dough, Strawberry Milkshake, and many more dream concoctions. I mean, there’s a virtual Baskin-Robbins of breakfast options. It just goes to show how divided our country has become. The FDA powers that be come out and indoctrinate us with all of these food pyramid, whole grain, low-fat, low-carb, sugar is the great satan messages, then the drug pushers over at Kellogg’s, Frito-Lay, Nabisco, etc. develop more provocative products to seduce us. The naughtiness of blueberry toaster pastries wasn’t enough, we became immune to that, now they’re selling us dessert in a pouch and suggesting we start our day with it. Like everything else, it’s taking more and more to shock us.

Yet, despite the statistics and evidence that convince us to buy Special K, or take the time to prepare an egg-white omelet with bell peppers and low-fat cheese, America still turns to Pop-Tarts. And Kellogg’s Pop-Tart business clearly isn’t suffering either, because they have enough money to hire those genius marketing people who keep coming up with exciting, dare I say dangerous, flavors, and art directors who make the box look so appealing it practically jumps off the shelf at us. And so that we don’t feel too bad about buying dessert pouches for breakfast, they advertise (on the page with the coupon) that Pop-Tarts have 25% less sugar than leading toaster pastries. I have two reactions to this claim. 1. Pop-Tarts isn’t the leading toaster pastry? Isn’t that a bit like saying Jell-O isn’t the leading gelatin? And reaction # 2. I could be feeding them something worse, so I shouldn’t feel too bad about the Hot Fudge Sundae Pop-Tarts. Actually, when you think about it, I could be making them an actual hot fudge sundae for breakfast, though that would be hard to feed them in the van when we’re running late and in a hurry to get somewhere. And, surely that would qualify me for some kind of child endangerment investigation. My kids, however, might nominate me for mother of the year.

But, before you start thinking I’m judging you, or that I’m the “Carrot-Stick Mom” that is ever-mindful of my kids nutritional needs, I should say that this morning my daughter had to use a snow shovel to dig out her chocolate chip pancake from the Everest-size mountain of Redi-Whip I let her pile on top of it. I make observations, people, not good decisions.

1 comment:

  1. Growing up in a family with 8 kids, Pop Tarts have always been a huge treat for me. Forget frosted vs. not--any variety was special. We'd get them for breakfast on our hiking/camping trips. Oh how I looked forward to breakfast on the trail! They don't even need to be toasted.

    Even now I find myself having to dominate my childhood association of PopTart=special treat with my adult reasoning PopTart=counterproductive to waistline.