Getting By With Pop-Tarts

I finally watched “Unfrosted,” Jerry Seinfeld’s creative take on the birth of Pop-Tarts. I wasn’t able to convince friends or partner to view it on the big screen — or the little screen — I had a solo viewing, the better to take it all in. Thanks to Netflix, I didn’t have to wait long.

I liked it. No rotten eggs or diminutive stars. It was fun, in some of the ways that “Barbie” was fun. FYI, I viewed “Barbie” alone, small screen, as well. I know, I need to add some like-minded movie friends to my life.

Nostalgia. Campy.  Actors doing their best to give flat performances (good flat) that harkened to the emotional landscape before the full out sixties of Grateful Dead, Woodstock, The Stones, getting stoned. It was more “Queen for a Day” and avocado appliances, and pouffy hair (men and women).

First, a big admission:  I wasn’t a Seinfeld fan. I didn’t appreciate the self-absorbed miasma. So Jerry Seinfeld was not the draw. I was curious to see Hugh Grant as Tony the Tiger. But, really, it’s the pastries. Pop-Tarts, a seldom enjoyed treat in my teenaged years, have become a kind of go-to with near magical healing qualities.

It began with my first granddaughter’s birth in a London hospital. I traveled for the birth, along with my other daughter. Pre-Covid, we were allowed to cram into the labor room, the father, sister, and mother/grandmother, along with expectant mother. Preparations had included scented oil dispensers, inspiring pictures, and treats to eat. The mother, who had to do the work of multiple days of labor, forgot everything except her desire to push out her baby. The rest of us? We took shifts dozing and eating snacks. The hospital was short on coffee and food service. Among the snacks? Pop-Tarts, brought from USA.

Pop-Tarts in London came to mean everything. Being together. Birthday baby.

We went through boxes of the shiny wrapped packets.

Cinnamon Brown Sugar was tops but various fruit flavors held up well to the challenge.

Jump ahead to this past year. My husband, Art, had a fatal lung condition, was approved for a double lung transplant. On Father’s Day (family is a theme), at Massachusetts General Hospital, he received two healthy, working lungs. He was in-hospital for nearly six weeks. Daughter #3 and I drove from the South Shore into Boston, every day.

I wanted Pop-Tarts, for their medicinal properties. With nearly no time that wasn’t spent in the hospital or on the way to and from, I discovered that Amazon carried Pop-Tarts.  Our daughter, a mostly vegan and 100% healthy eater, even partook of them. When I posted to Facebook about how Pop-Tarts were keeping up spirits and keeping down worries — a friend showed up at my doorstep with an Ikea sized bag full of boxes of the pastry. Cinnamon Brown Sugar, of course (she asked what I liked). Blueberry, S’Mores, Strawberry. It was an embarrassment of toaster pastries.

Here, I should say — except in the very early days, when Pop-Tarts were sold as a toaster treat, I’ve always eaten them cold. Or raw, if you prefer. The sushi of pastry.

I gave a box to the neighbor teen who was helping out with walking our dog. And sent some home for her siblings. More to daughter and her boyfriend who were both helping with everything while the transplant adventure rolled along. Tarts became breakfast, driving snack, bedtime munchy. Thankfully, they have tremendous shelf-life. When Art finally came home from Massachusetts General Hospital, there were ones to share.

Jerry Seinfeld’s movie, with its many nods to early ’60s was a stroll through my early years. Hugh Grant, was amusing (he has said in an interview that he never actually ate a Pop-Tart). Art could hear me laughing, all through the movie. That made it totally worth it.

postscript …. no need to advise me on the questionable nutrients. I’m aware. And I didn’t care.

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