Pop-Tarts Inventor Bill Post, Is Toast

By Josh Bloom — Mar 21, 2024
William "Bill" Post, who recently passed away at age 96, may not ring a lot of bells, but his invention sure does. Post is credited with the invention of Pop-Tarts. The little devils were first marketed in 1964 but even after 60 years, they remain wildly popular – to the tune of three billion sold annually. Here's a non-serious look at Post and his breakfast-changing innovation.

William 'Bill' Post died last month at the age of 96. It is unlikely that you have heard of him but it's absolutely impossible to be unaware of his quintessential contribution to American cuisine – the Pop Tart. 

In the early 1960s, Post Consumer Brands and Kellogg’s were at war; both companies were vying to create a new type of fast, convenient breakfast food. Post, the company, was promoting a convenient toaster pastry called "Country Squares" but the company had a problem: They had nothing ready to sell.

 Post Consumer Brands, trumpeted to the press that it had created an innovative new breakfast item: a shelf-stable, fruit-filled, handheld toaster pastry called “Country Squares.” It sounded like the ultimate grab-and-go convenience.

The History Channel

Around the same time, Kellogg’s approached Post (the person, no relation to the company), who was the plant manager of the Hekman Biscuit Company (later Keebler), and asked the company to come up with a new breakfast product. It's more than a little funny that Kellogg’s simply sent a handful of executives to meet with (Mr.) Post. Unannounced. According to the History Channel:

They were waving two pieces of dough with some filling in it, saying, “We’d like to put that in a toaster.” They asked if he could develop and manufacture it on the quick.  

Would it be wrong to say that the execs just popped in? 

Post and his team went into overdrive and soon came up with a product with the unimaginative name "Fruit Scones," which was later changed to Pop-Tarts to hop on the Pop Art bandwagon, most famous for Andy Warhol's Campbell’s soup paintings, which he started painting in 1962. (Andy Warhol was one seriously weird dude. See 'Why Andy Warhol Peed On His Paintings (And Worse) - A Perverted Chemistry Lesson)' in case you need some convincing.)

In 1964, the quasi-food was launched in Cleveland but Kellogg's made only 10,000 cases of each of the four original flavors. They flew off the shelves. Somewhat sheepishly, Kellogg's issued a mea culpa, apologizing for the shortage. The company sure fixed that. As of 2022, Kellogg's was selling three billion Pop-Tarts per year. 

Quasi food or Food?

Pop-Tarts may be the poster child for highly processed junk food, but is this accurate? Not so much. As I wrote in 2023, the major ingredients in the tasty little devils are not any different from those in foods that are perceived as healthy or otherwise.

  • Wheat flour 
  • Niacin - Vitamin B3**
  • Iron - The supplement, not the appliance**
  • Vitamin B1 - Thiamine**
  • Vitamine B2 - Riboflavin**
  • Corn syrup - 100% glucose
  • High fructose corn syrup (HFCS)

** Nutrients found in multi-vitamins

The other stuff

  • Confectioner's glaze - a naturally occurring shellac derived from the Indian Lac Bug
  • Xanthan gum - a common carbohydrate used as a thickener
  • Soy lecithin - A mixture of phospholipids derived from soybeans. Used as an emulsifier
  • Carnauba wax - A naturally occurring wax derived from a Brazilian palm tree
  • And...

Artificial colors 

Dr. Joe Schwarcz, the head of McGill University's prestigious Office for Science and Society, and I are in complete agreement when it comes to artificial colors.

Many companies are already [replacing synthetic artificial colors with natural dyes], which is commendable since synthetic dyes serve only a cosmetic purpose. So, why take any chance, even if the evidence of risk is inconclusive? 

Dr. Joe Schwarcz in the Montreal Gazette

Most artificial dyes are deemed safe, but some of them have been associated with behavioral problems in children, although the evidence for this is scant. But, with zero benefits and even a minuscule, risk why use them? People will buy the damn things no matter what color they are.

OK, that's (more than) enough about Pop-Tarts. They may be the butt of some jokes but how many people have come up with inventions that changed the breakfast world, let alone three billion times per year? 


There are at least two claims about who was the actual inventor. On the Pop-Tarts website, “Doc” Joe Thompson is given credit for the recipe, and Post's name isn't even mentioned. Most news outlets credit Post. Why not share? There are two in a package. Share the tarts!

His obituary clears up nothing:

"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.'"

Post's obituary, on the MKD Funeral Home website.

Let's just end with a toast to Post. 







Josh Bloom

Director of Chemical and Pharmaceutical Science

Dr. Josh Bloom, the Director of Chemical and Pharmaceutical Science, comes from the world of drug discovery, where he did research for more than 20 years. He holds a Ph.D. in chemistry.

Recent articles by this author: