September 4, 2010

Reporting from Pop-Tarts World

As I headed down 42nd Street yesterday, my persistent addiction started to dig its claws into me. The sugar craving. I looked around for a candy-bar-laden newsstand at which to feed at the trough of processed sweetness, but oddly, nothing (the one I passed by seemed to have plenty of gum, but nary a Whatchamacallit). And then, a beacon shone ahead of me: Pop-Tarts World.
I'd read about this new Times Square theme store, but the concept still didn't seem real to me. But here I was, with the craving, and it seemed like a sign from on high. So I went inside.

It's been my impression that venues like these—heavily branded, multimedia—aim to be more of an "experience" than just a store, and as much as that sounds like advertising bullshit, in this case, it was true, though I wouldn't exactly call it a great experience. What an odd place.

I was a few minutes late for this:
But I can imagine. Probably lots of Pop-Tarts-shaped rectangles and random squiggles. There was a T-shirt designing station, a mini art exhibit…
…what looked like an unused dance floor, and most notably, this:
"The Varietizer." A giant upright Pop-Tarts coffin, attended by a small touch-screen computer. You select six different flavors of Pop-Tarts and watch as the machine assembles a 12-Tart box of your own design. The sugar demon pushed me forward and I tapped out my selections, all sorts of flavors that I didn't know existed in the Pop-Tarts-verse (I haven't bought a box in probably 15 years): Cookies and Cream, Cookie Dough, Cinnamon Bun. I stopped at four selections, then asked an attendant how much all of this cost.

"$12," he said. "One dollar per Pop-Tart."

If there's one thing stronger in me than my sugar jones, it's my cheapskatedness. I backed away from the Varietizer.

Instead, I visited the café. While waiting, I perused the PT-branded merchandise…
…then gazed up at the hard-to-read (and even-harder-to-photograph) menu.
You probably can't see it, but this place serves "Pop-Tarts Sushi." I'm sorry, I can't recall what it consists of, but I didn't confirm that no fish is involved.

I was overwhelmed. Part of it was that the café line was just poorly designed—two large wall menus, neither very easy to read, the servers behind imposing, opaque barriers. I selected a blondie with pieces of Pop-Tart embedded in it, for $2.99, then fled to the hazy Times Square streets.

The blondie was tasty, but I detected none of that ineffable Pop-Tartiness. Late that night at home, when the sugar monster struck again, I wished I'd let the Varietizer do its thing for me. But I had no souvenir from my journey to Pop-Tart world. Did it even really happen?


the kevin scurry blog said...

Oh, I know where we're shooting the bulk of our movie in November...

BlueDuck said...

I had the Pop-Tart Sushi last month.

It's just some crumbled up Pop Tart bits, wrapped up with a Fruit Roll Up. I think you can pretty guess how that tastes.

PS- I did give in to the Varietizer. Among my selections? The (rare?) Orange Cream, which was okay, and the never disappointing S'Mores flavor. I'm sure I have diabetes now.

--Jeremy W.

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