Photo: Richard Drew / AP Photo
"We saw an opportunity," said Shoessel. "We started watching what people had to say -- our Facebook fan page has close to 2 million fans. We wanted to bring their passion for Pop-Tarts to life in a tangible way, letting them create an experience of their own."
The most eye-catching contraption is "The Varietizer" machine (see photos below), which allows shoppers to build their own customized box of Pop-Tarts for $12. There are currently 23 different kinds of Pop-Tarts in the machine -- some will be switched out seasonally (Orange Cream, Blueberry Muffin, and Ice Cream Sandwich are current options) and the classics. What I found to be most interesting was the process of choosing your "tarts." On a computer screen, a customer is presented with all the possible choices. Before you make your final decision, the nutritional facts for the specific flavor appear. When I asked Schoessel for the reasoning behind this (I found seeing all those calories listed to be a turn-off), he said "Kellogg's takes nutrition very seriously -- it's also a good way to provide information if people have food allergies."
Photos and more after the jump ...
The centerpiece of the store, the Cafe, lists about 30 menu items (additional items will be rotated in seasonally). The menu is divided into four sections: Oh So Close to Home (Pop-Tarts served toasted, frozen or room temperature), Delectable Delights (small bites such as Pop-Tarts Sushi and a take on the classic kids' snack ants on a log), Chill Out Now (soft-serve ice cream mixed with Pop-Tarts bits) and From the Oven (a bakery section with things like cobbler, cookies and blondies -- with Pop-Tarts pieces mixed in, of course). To "Top it Off," customers can take any of flavor of Pop-Tarts and add additional vanilla, chocolate or cinnamon frosting, candy, sprinkles, dried fruit and nuts and finish it with a drizzle of raspberry, chocolate, vanilla or caramel.
Because of all the buzz on the web about the Pop-Tarts sushi, it was the first thing I headed for. With three different kinds of Pop-Tarts pulverized and then rolled up inside a fruit wrap, it tastes exactly how it sounds -- sweet, possibly too sweet. I would have been more content to empty out the filling and just eat the fruit wrap. However, I can see why it has such an appeal and I truly believe everyone should try it for themselves.
I tried almost everything on the menu, and while there were several items I'd be happy to take seconds of, there are others I'd stay far away from.
What to skip:
Rice Krispies Treats Recipe with Pop-Tarts Pieces - The crust of the Pop-Tarts was not a match for the soft, marshmallow-like texture of the Rice Krispies Treat.
Chocolate Chunk Peanut Butter Blondie - This was so dry I had trouble swallowing it.
Lemon Razzy - The fake lemon flavor and warmer-than-room-temperature tart made for a cloying and messy snack.
Peach Blueberry Cobbler - Couldn't even tell there were Pop-Tarts pieces in it; it was served warm and would be perfect with a scoop of ice cream.
Chunky Chocolate Chipper - I can admit I had more than one of these soft, chewy chocolate chip cookies.
Ants on a Log? - I think it was the addition of celery, a savory element, that the Pop-Tart could finally not overshadow; all the elements came together nicely.
Make Your Own - It's a fun experience that gets your creative juices flowing -- a great way to take your favorite Pop-Tarts flavor to a new level.
So are there plans to expand to other cities? "We've got grand plans, but we want to see how this one does first," says Schoessel.
Pop-Tarts World 128 West 42nd Street, New York, NY 10036
Related: Pop-Tarts Ice Cream Sandwiches ; Pop-Tarts World, the Entire Menu [Eater]