The Practical Reason Why Pop-Tarts Are Rectangular

Pop-Tarts have been produced in almost 100 flavors for over five decades. And while which flavor is the best has been long-debated, one thing has remained true for every flavor ever released. Whether frosted or unfrosted, extra chocolatey or full of fruit — every Pop-Tart is rectangular. The reason that everyone's favorite portable pastry is shaped like a rectangle is because Pop-Tarts were designed for the toaster. According to the official Pop-Tarts timeline, Kellogg's chairman William E. LaMothe "had a vision" back in 1963 for a breakfast pastry that could fit into a toaster without mess and "could go anywhere" after being warmed up. After experimenting with a way to make toast and jam portable and easy to carry, the Pop-Tart was born. However, this history of how Pop-Tarts came to be is a slightly contested one.

The New York Times tells a slightly different story than the Pop-Tarts website, claiming it was actually rival cereal makers Post that first announced the idea for a portable breakfast pastry. Kellogg's took note of this ingenious idea and made their own version before Post could release theirs. Kellogg's first called their version of the treat "fruit scones," but later pivoted to the far superior name, Pop-Tarts, proudly becoming the first brand to perfect a rectangular breakfast pastry that was sized to fit into most standard toasters. Regardless of who thought of what first, Kellogg's Pop-Tarts are a breakfast pastry miracle that have been enjoyed by fans since 1964.

Less than half of Pop-Tarts lovers prepare the pastry the way it was intended

The Pop-Tarts website addresses the rather unconventional history of Pop-Tarts with this iconic statement: "Others may have attempted the art of the toaster pastry, but only one perfected it." This is definitely true since sixty years later, the on-the-go rectangular breakfast tart is as popular as ever. Per CNBC, Americans consumed 3 billion Pop-Tarts in 2022, and was the brand's third top-selling snack. However, not everyone who enjoys a Pop-Tart utilizes the tart's convenient sizing and toaster compatibility.

According to a survey conducted by, only 48% of Pop-Tart lovers prefer to toast the sweet snack before enjoying it. Surprisingly, a whopping 42% eat Pop-Tarts without any additional preparation at all, straight out of the shiny silver sleeve. Another 8% of consumers claimed to microwave their Pop-Tarts, and a shy 2% actually freeze their tarts before consuming. We can only imagine how Kellogg's chairman would feel about people ditching the toaster oven for a chilly freezer after he specifically designed the tarts to be the perfect fit.

How much crust is too much crust on a Pop-Tart?

Historically, frosted Pop-Tarts have an outer unfrosted crust that is made of compressed dough, effectively sealing in the inner fillings of the pastry pocket to achieve that grab-and-go model. This design is especially helpful if you are popping your tart out of the toaster, lifting by the crust without the mess of any melted frosting getting on your fingers. But recently, some Pop-Tart fans have begun calling out the pastries for having far too much crust and far too little filling.

Back in 2021, Pop-Tarts responded to a frustrated customer on X, formerly Twitter, claiming they have not changed their recipe. However, it seems that fans have started to notice a decline in the quality of their once beloved sweet treat. One frustrated Reddit user took to the r/shrinkflation thread to share a photo of a rather sad looking Pop-Tart with a very small amount of frosting, asking, "In addition to being smaller in general they are skimping on frosting now too right?" One user in the comments replied, "They're basically crackers now." In a separate thread, Redditors attempted to figure out when exactly Pop-Tarts started to gradually add less frosting and fillings to their pastries, claiming the tarts in packages no longer look anything like the pictures on Pop-Tart boxes. People even have issues with the crust, recalling that it "used to get crispy. Now super soggy after the toaster."