by Marion Nestle
Aug 10 2010

The latest in food marketing: Pop-Tarts in Times Square

You have to see New York City’s latest tourist attraction: a Pop-Tarts World Store in Times Square.  OK, M&Ms has a fabulous light display.  OK, Hershey’s has an enormous store filled with chocolate tchotchkes.  But Pop-Tarts?   I think it’s weird to turn Times Square into a food court (with tee shirts) but hey, I’m not in the junk food business.

Kellogg must think it’s worth the exorbitant cost of store frontage in the middle of New York City.  According to the account in the New York Times, a Kellogg spokesman said:

Our long-term hope is to strengthen the bonding between the brand and the consumer, and that has great benefits for the brand.

Others explain that “Just a presence in Times Square can help a company…It [is] a way to project an image of growth and maturity.”

I had no idea that bonds between brands and consumers needed strengthening.  It never occurred to me that Times Square projects an image of maturity.

OK, it’s cute that Kellogg named Pop-Tarts after Pop Art, but Pop-Tarts as a tourist destination?

Check it out and let me know!

Update, August 12: Here is Mark Bittman’s review.

Update, August 16: And here is CNN’s take on it (I’m interviewed, briefly).

  • Anthro

    One more reason not to bother visiting NY.

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  • I happened to pass it on my way home from running errands earlier today, and of course I had to go in…and take pictures.

  • Rebecca

    There is a slideshow up at Serious Eats of a visit, if anyone wants to grimace their way through the creations:

  • I just moved here. Anthro, I had to laugh out loud.

  • Renee

    I am just amazed at how much disposable income people must have. You’d have to be incredibly bored and have spent money on everything else already to make a Pop-Tarts store a destination! There are people dying of hunger in other countries, and Americans are fiddling in a fire.

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  • hmm..on the perspective of marketing, i do not see anything wrong with what kellogg’s did. in fact i think it is a great idea since pop-tarts have been around quite some time. just like hersheys, they have become an established treat for both kids and adults. i think this is a fun way for them to bring back the spark between the brand and the consumer. just like in any relationship, one has to learn new ways to keep the spark alive!

  • Stuart

    Wow. This is sad. Almost as said as the fact that Pop Tarts have low fat, unfrosted or high fiber choices. They also have (or had) a “whole grain” choice too. This is why people think they are making better food choices.

  • MA

    Melissa, I see your point about the marketing move being good for the company. But I don’t agree that pop-tarts are viewed solely as a treat for both kids and adults. I know plenty of adults who think a pop-tart constitutes a suitable breakfast food.

    But hey, I guess if someone really loves pop-tarts, they can now shop at a store that caters exclusively to that love. I won’t be stopping in.

  • Anthro


    Are you a Kellog’s employee or just a lobbyist for them?

    MA is right, of course, PopTarts are not really used as “treats” (what is the correct frequency of a “treat” anyway? 1x/day, 1x/week? Does it depend on your age, current weight, whether you’ve been naughty or nice?). They are shoved at children by busy (and ad-influenced) Moms who have been trained by “marketing” to think that they are a substitute for a proper breakfast. The purpose of the store isn’t even to sell them, but to continue to “build the brand” and so on.

    What is now referred to as a “treat” is something you want all the time and can easily convince yourself you “deserve” because you are “stressed” or worse yet, convince yourself the treat is a “food” that has any nutritional benefit. This kind of “marketing” is offensive enough when targeted at adults, but absolutely unconscionable when targeted at children. A young mother of 25 or so has herself grown up on this kind of thinking and has actually been conditioned to think that her child is somehow deprived if he does not have a “treat” several times a day.

    Marketing as applied to food products is evil–I just don’t see any way is has any redeeming social value in our society. It makes shareholders rich at the price of children’s health and costs all of us plenty in health care dollars to say nothing of the shortened life spans of an entire upcoming generation.

  • Joy

    Anthro: Please don’t use this as a reason to not visit NYC. Those of us who live here avoid the trap filled with squirming tourists packing the stores and sidewalks 24/7 that is Time Square. Residents take in worthwhile activities of every kind all over the city, but have no use for these half-dozen blocks, except to buy discounted theater tickets.

    Oxford should change the definition of the word ‘treat’ to now mean something that is routinely given to children to silence them and give parents a moments peace; usually a sure means to an obese end. Who needs Dr Kevorkian? We have Pop-Tarts, et al.

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  • Victoria

    as i am home with a newborn, i am seeing a bit more tv than usual, i can’t believe how much coverage this pop tart store got!