There was yet another Bowl Game played yesterday. I didn’t watch more than a few minutes of the game, and yet I cannot get enough of the coverage.
That coverage is of the Pop Tarts Bowl. With so many bowl games happening, it can be difficult to keep the teams and matchups straight. And with corporate sponsorship out of control, the only way to stand out and win the media cycle is to lean hard into the absurdity of it all.
That’s how a little known or cared about bowl went from a forgettable watch to a truly magical spectacle all thanks to something called Kellanova. The company which owns Pop-Tarts and sponsors this bowl game. A Bowl which began humbly in 1990 as the Sunshine Classic and featured a top 10 matchup when 6th ranked Florida State knocked off 7th ranked Penn State, and has since changed names 12 times and was last year the Cheez-It Bowl. Kellanova was formerly known as Kellogg’s, and has sponsored this game since 2020, originally dubbing it the Cheez-It Bowl. But after three seasons of players dousing themselves with Cheez-Its (I’m sorry Kellanova, I’m not saying Cheez-It crackers) it was time for a change.
Enter the edible mascot:
This really is marketing genius.
- Rule 1 — don’t take yourself too seriously
- Rule 2 — be fun and absurd
- Rule 3 — yes, more absurd than that... go farther
- Rule 4 — nostalgia works really well
Like many of the readers here, I can be considered a 90s kid. I was in high school in the mid 90s, but Pop-tarts were an easily accessed breakfast treat for many of us (brown sugar cinnamon for life). And these breakfast toaster pastries could be eaten fresh out of the bag or popped into a toaster for something a little extra. So seeing a breakfast staple sponsoring a Bowl Game with a mascot that they were saying could be eaten... Ok, I’m intrigued.
Remaking the Pop-Tarts Bowl is a lesson in how to interpret things like seeing Ryan Nanni celebrated for donning the Blooming Onion mascot outfit for the Outback Bowl in 2017. Seeing how popular the Duke’s Mayo Bath has become in another bowl with little ramifications. It’s taking notes while players hoist the Idaho Potato Bowl mascot into the air and watch as they make “french fry angels” after winning.
Taking those notes and then masterfully applying them to what has become the biggest college football spectacle and an encapsulation of what makes this sports so unique and fun all in one fell swoop. With that said... here are MY favorite moments of the Pop-Tarts Bowl:
The meme-ification of this shot
The dance that preceeded that shot:
Live every day like the pop-tart lived its last one: pic.twitter.com/eTD1HUdF5D— Nicole Auerbach (@NicoleAuerbach) December 29, 2023
Just being perfectly absurd:
I asked if it was offensive to eat a Pop-Tart in front of the @PopTartsBowl mascot and then its handler yelled out “ITS THEIR DREAM” and then the mascot grabbed a Pop-Tart out of my hand and started force-feeding it to me while making soft grunting noises pic.twitter.com/PaCDY6mzu3— Rodger Sherman (@rodger) December 29, 2023
The introduction was perfect
The finale was even better
Here we are... the edible mascot in the Pop-Tarts Bowl.. pic.twitter.com/0XgKGoXseS— PJ Green (@PJGreenTV) December 29, 2023
"Take this, all of you, and eat of it, for this is My body, which will be given up for you." https://t.co/MrywzBJczA— Melt Minus One (@gettinmelt) December 29, 2023
Watching a team full of young always hungry football players quietly devour the edible mascot was sheer television (or I guess I should say internet) perfection.
What were your favorite moments of the Pop-Tarts Bowl?