How many strawberries are in your Pop-Tarts? Not since Mr. Owl sought the answer to one of life's great mysteries have we encountered a question quite like this. But this isn't a 1970s-era commercial with a cartoon owl quizzically wondering how many licks it takes to get to the center of a Tootsie Pop. This is serious, and potentially costly, business.
Right. So how many strawberries do Pop-Tarts contain? The question caused one consumer to file a $5 million lawsuit against Pop-Tarts maker Kellogg's, claiming there is not much actual fruit underneath the sweet confection's toaster-slot-sized processed and frosted exterior. The class action lawsuit, filed on behalf of Illinois resident Anita Harris in August 2021, alleges that Pop-Tarts are essentially a dessert in health-food packaging.
The lawsuit claims Kellogg's Pop-Tarts marketing is "misleading because they give people the impression the fruit filling contains a greater relative and absolute amount of strawberries than it does," CNN reported. The truth is far, ahem, more varied — and that's not a good thing, according to Harris.
Strawberry Pop-Tarts has a filling with a "relatively significant amount of non-strawberry fruit ingredients," and includes fruits like apples or pears to make the foil-wrapped breakfast food's interior. Harris's attorneys point to Dollar Tree and Walmart toaster pastries, which have marketing that announces their "naturally and artificially flavored" ingredients. Kellogg has no such phrase on its Pop-Tarts boxes which, according to the plaintiff, equates to "false and deceptive" marketing in violation of the Illinois Consumer Fraud and Deceptive Business Practices Act, in large part because it is likely to influence consumer purchasing decisions with its inaccuracies.
Harris isn't alone. As of October 2021, at least two other lawsuits in the United States have filed a claim that Kellogg's strawberry Pop-Tarts don't contain enough actual strawberries, an allegation that by-and-large has the potential to violate state consumer fraud laws.
For die-hard Pop-Tarts lovers, the litigation may be a moot point. "There's apple and pear in strawberry Pop-Tarts?" Sam Han, a Los Angeles-area messenger told The Wall Street Journal. "It's like you just told me there's no Santa Claus."
The news, however, isn't enough to make him give up the breakfast treat. "When you eat a Pop-Tart," he added, "you know it isn't organic or vegan."