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What’s a food story like you doing in a health and wellness blog like this? Well, there are a few reasons, actually — even if they have little to do with nutrition.

In case you’re unfamiliar with the subject matter, we’re talking about Pop-Tarts World, a pop-up store that is opening today in the Time Square district of Manhattan. The iconic Kellogg’s toaster pastry brand, introduced in 1964, is now the focus of a retail store and café where customers can enjoy all things Pop-Tarts.

varietizer.jpgThe centerpiece of the retail space is a 16-foot-tall vending machine, called the Varietizer (shown left), which allows anyone to create their own custom box of Pop-Tarts, with 6, 2-count packages per box. Then, there’s the service bar, where an extensive menu allows patrons to customize individual Pop-Tarts with icing, sprinkles, drizzles and other confections, as well as ice cream and specialty products like trail mix, granola bars and cookies — all of which use Pop-Tarts as an ingredient.

The most interesting item on the menu — and the one that got the most quizzical looks — was Pop-Tarts sushi (shown right). This treat consists of bits of mashed-up pastry wrapped in fruit leather. The tube is then sliced sushi-style and the colorful result makes for quite a conversation piece (and mouthful).sushi.jpg

The 3,000-square-foot retail space also includes a custom T-shirt station, and an area of touch screen videos with interactive entertainment programs. There's also commemorative apparel for sale in the store, which is located at 128 W. 42nd Street between Broadway and Sixth Ave. Roughly 10 employees will staff the store, including “chefs” who will man the service counter.

Right now, the operation is open for a limited time, though officials plan to assess the concept’s long-term potential at the end of this year. Depending on sales and foot traffic, there’s a chance Pop-Tarts World could become a permanent fixture in the neighborhood, joining other famous food brands with retail outlets, such as the M&M’s World Store and Hershey’s Times Square.

So, this is kind of a wellness story, but not in the traditional sense. The Pop-Tarts page on Facebook, created only last summer, currently ranks 20th on the website’s list of most-popular brand pages, with 1.9 million fans. So, as a brand, Pop-Tarts is alive and certainly well, and reminds us that it’s always possible to do more with a product — including the top health and wellness brands.

As whole health gains mindshare with consumers, some brands are sure to gain enough critical mass that they could support something like this. Hey, if they can do it with Pop-Tarts.....

[Photo credit: Robert Vosburgh]

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