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The best of the Pop-Tarts Bowl

There was a game played... this post is not about that part.

Pop-Tarts Bowl - NC State v Kansas State Photo by Julio Aguilar/Getty Images

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:

NCAA Football: Pop-Tarts Bowl-North Carolina State at Kansas State Nathan Ray Seebeck-USA TODAY Sports

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:

Just being perfectly absurd:

The introduction was perfect

The finale was even better

NCAA Football: Pop-Tarts Bowl-North Carolina State at Kansas State Nathan Ray Seebeck-USA TODAY Sports

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?