Personal Musings

Daddy Ate My Pop-Tarts

And he has no regrets

Daddy ate my Pop-Tarts is one of the most common expressions heard echoing throughout our household. The phrase is said more than “I love you” or “Brush your teeth” or “Stop hitting your brother.” Its closest competition: “For the love of all things holy, turn off the light in your room when you leave” in which I summon the spirit of my deceased father as I enter a wormhole in time back to 1989 — only this time I am the father and not the son.

I would place blame solely on my willpower. That would be the responsible thing to do. But have you seen the different flavors of Pop-Tarts on the market today? The evolution of the once simple Pop-Tart pastry is bananas — also a flavor: Frosted Banana Bread, introduced in 2023.

It’s no wonder this phrase “Daddy ate my Pop-Tarts” reverberates throughout the walls of our home. I could say that when I was a kid, manufacturers didn’t seem as keen on putting us youngsters into a sugar-induced coma starting at breakfast. But that would be a lie.

Sugar consumption was at its highest point in the late 1980s and early 1990s. Have you ever seen a toddler turn up a Mountain Dew sitting on their front porch? I have. It was a right of passage. We’re the generation that paved the way for the now mandatory Nutritional Facts label on the back of all food items which debuted in 1994.

Even our candy reflected the state of our country. You could:

  • Snort Pixy Stix
  • Smoke a candy cigarette
  • Plug your cheek with Big League Chew, or
  • Pop the cap off a wax candy six pack with liquid in the middle and chug-a-lug on down

Hey, at least we didn’t chomp down on Tide Pods or eat ramen out of a toilet bowl because we were too lazy to do dishes.

But when it came to Pop-Tarts, we had minimal options:

  • Unfrosted Strawberry
  • Unfrosted Cherry
  • Unfrosted Blueberry

Frosted Pop-Tarts have existed since 1967. But your parents buying you a Frosted Pop-Tart for breakfast consumption was a rarity, at least at my house. I didn’t grow up in the land of Sunny D and Lucky Charms.

Snagging a Frosted Strawberry Pop-Tart from the grocery store was like seeing a bobcat in the flesh and it sashaying between your legs allowing you to pet it. Sure, you heard their infant-like cries at the bottom of the pool hill on a Saturday night. You knew they were out there. But getting up close and personal with one simply didn’t happen.

But today, holy sugar, enriched wheat flour, and dextrose Batman. We, I mean: our children, are tempted in the aisles with Frosted Chocolate Chip Pop-Tarts and Frosted Confetti Cupcake Pop-Tarts. There’s Boston Creme and Cookies and Creme (not cream mind you). Wildlicious Wild Berry and Snickerdoodle.

Frosted Hot Fudge Sundae is another. Did you know such a thing of beauty existed? I don’t need to go any further in describing it for you to know the Frosted Hot Fudge Sundae Pop-Tart is amazing. It’s my son’s favorite flavor.

Coincidentally, mine too.

Instead of pretending I didn’t eat my kids’ Pop-Tarts nowadays, I fess up by shouting back to them as they rummage through the cabinets in the kitchen whilst I simultaneously ask my wife if there are any leftover Pop-Tart crumbs visible in my beard:

“Of course I ate your Pop-Tarts. They are Pop-Tarts.”

“But why didn’t you eat any of Annabelle’s,” my son says in response.

“Because Annabelle got the S’mores flavor this time and I hate s’mores as a general principle: s’mores on a campfire (no). S’mores Pop-Tarts (also: no). If you don’t want me to eat your Pop-Tarts, it’s imperative you get a disgusting flavor. Do they make a Sardine Pop-Tart? That would be a solid option.”

But I’m not just the Pop-Tart Monster. Pop-Tarts aren’t the only food my kids toss in the cart at the grocery store I later consume while they are nestled all snug in their beds asleep at night. Any kind of Chex-Mix or Cheez-It is fair game. Does this larger than average nose resting on the center of my face sense, wait, is that, is that a Reese’s Cup? Jackpot!

If you don’t want me eating these delectable treats you purchased while you were with your mom grocery shopping — a conscious decision made when I wasn’t there so I wouldn’t see your bounty — then, at the bare minimum, I highly recommend you find a better hiding place for your stash.

Like my wife does.

Because I will sniff it out otherwise. “Finders keepers, losers weepers” as they say.

My wife has hidden chambers under her bed where Heath bars are stored. I’m more of a Skor bar kind of guy, but beggars can’t be choosers. Plus, you can’t find a Skor bar or Fifth Avenue in this town to save your life. She occasionally lets it slip she has her own cache squirreled away upstairs. I’ll see her over on the other side of the living room at night reading a book (wink, wink), and in the corner of my eye, I catch her raising her hands up to her mouth behind said book.

“Ha! I caught you,” I say.

“Caught me with what?” she lies, a faint aroma of toffee, almonds, and milk chocolate wafting through the air. But she doesn’t fool me.

“You’re not reading. You’re eating Heath bars.”

“My students gave it to me as part of National School Counselor Appreciation Week,” she says.

That’s always her rejoinder when I catch her in the act of sneaking candy while reading. Like any kind of National Appreciation Week, I know there’s only one a year. She thinks I’m gullible enough to believe there are 52 National School Counselor Appreciation Weeks in the calendar year. I may have bought it 27 times this year already, but I’m not buying it this time. No, mam. Uh uh.

“That was all I had,” she lies again. “I have chocolate chips for cooking if you want some of those.”

I think about it. But she always refers me to Nestle Toll House semi-sweet chocolate chips when I’m shivering over in the corner of the living room fiending for saturated fat-based calories that have no health-related benefits whatsoever.

I pass.

“Did the kids get any Pop-Tarts at the grocery store?” I ask.

“Henry hid his in the fireproof safe. Do you need the combination?”

“What flavor?”

“Frosted Hot Fudge Sundae.”

“Then yes, yes I do.”

Thanks for reading. I write personal essays on every day life, often with a touch of humor and nostalgia. Choose your next adventure:

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