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Is That Right? Pop-Tarts are "Made with Real Fruit"

Full disclosure: I love Pop-Tarts. I can't allow them in the house because I could eat a whole box in a sitting.

But that doesn't mean I'm going to look the other way when Kellogg's, maker of the popular toaster pastries, makes a misleading claim on the Pop-Tarts package.

The various berry varieties come in boxes bursting with images of berries and bearing the statement "Made with Real Fruit."

Technically speaking, I suppose that's right. Mid-way through the lengthy list of ingredients you will indeed find "two percent or less of... dried strawberries, dried apples, dried pears." The Web site cryptically notes in teensy print, asterisked to the Made With Real Fruit claim, "Filling made with equal to 10 percent fruit." A Kellogg's spokesperson confirms that that means 10 percent of the filling is fruit and that the company added that bit of information to its packages in 2008 when Kellogg's revived the "made with real fruit" line. They'd stopped using that line in 2006 under pressure from consumer advocates.

(Julia Ewan/The Washington Post)

While the Nutrition Facts panel shows that a single non-frosted Strawberry tart, for instance, provides 10 percent of the Daily Value for Vitamin A, iron, thiamin, riboflavin, niacin, Vitamin B6 and folic acid, these nutrients are mostly added as separate ingredients; they certainly don't come from the little bit of dried fruit in the filling.

In fact, the Brown Sugar Cinnamon Pop-Tart (my favorite!), which bears no claims regarding fruit content, has about the same nutrition profile as its fruit-sounding fellow tart: Unfrosted, it delivers 210 calories, 70 from fat, 13 grams of sugar -- and exactly the same percentages of DVs for the seven nutrients listed above.

Kellogg's has recently added calcium-fortified and fiber-rich varieties to its lineup. While the calcium-enriched Strawberry Milkshake flavor, for example, provides 10 percent of the DV for that mineral, a Whole Grain with Fiber Brown Sugar Cinnamon Pop-Tart supplies 20 percent of the fiber DV. That's actually pretty good.

And to its credit, Kellogg's has virtually eliminated artery-clogging trans fats from its recipes. Still, that Strawberry Pop-Tart gets nearly a quarter of its 210 calories from fat. Plus, one pastry delivers 16 grams of sugar -- the equivalent of 4 teaspoons. (The frosted variety has an added gram of sugar -- but 10 fewer calories and a bit less fat.) In light of the American Heart Association's new recommendation that we eat no more than 6 (for women) to 10 (for men) teaspoons of added sugar per day, that's a huge amount.

I think it's okay to enjoy a Pop-Tart now and then if you wish. But don't do it for the fruit.

By Jennifer LaRue Huget  |  August 28, 2009; 7:00 AM ET
Categories:  Nutrition and Fitness  
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Uh, any kid with a bit of intelligence could figure out that Pop-Tarts aren't eaten because of the fruit - or because it's "healthy."

Posted by: cmecyclist | August 28, 2009 11:53 AM | Report abuse

And please don't give these to your kids and call them breakfast. With that much sugar and chemicals, they are a dessert if you eat them at all (which you certainly should not).

Posted by: DCResident00 | August 28, 2009 12:00 PM | Report abuse

Please comment more on the high fructose corn syrup issue with Pop Tarts as well - the Post ran an article about the relationship between HFCS and mercury - and Pop Tarts were found to be quite high in mercury because of their HFCS content. Sounds like there are more reasons than one to avoid this food - especially when there are organic alternatives.

Posted by: towntrotter | August 28, 2009 12:36 PM | Report abuse

Anyone with even a small amount of intelligence would not consumer this
chemical/artificial/sugar-laddened junk.

By the way,does anyone who puts good health
in the forefront of their lives through
healthy eating and exercise consume
6 teaspoons (women) 10 teaspoons (men) of
sugar per day? A healthy man or woman
would not consume that much sugar in
a year.............

Posted by: Sirius2 | August 28, 2009 12:42 PM | Report abuse

Know what I miss? Danish Go-Rounds. Kellogg doesn't make them anymore. Waah.

Posted by: bs2004 | August 28, 2009 12:49 PM | Report abuse

Our problem with Pop-Tarts is the meat, specifically the gelatin in the frosting. Same thing with Kellogg's Frosted Mini-Wheats -- more meat in the form of gelatin. That's not what many people are expecting to find in their morning cereal bowl.

Posted by: gonowgo | August 28, 2009 1:18 PM | Report abuse

Mmmmmmmmmm!! Bacon and cheese-flavored Pop Tarts! OMG why hasn't this been done yet?! It doesn't need to be refrigerated if it includes artificial bacon bits and fake "cheese". But would get nice and melty in the toaster!!

Posted by: GreenMeansGo | August 28, 2009 2:12 PM | Report abuse

The high-fiber variety are the ones I buy. My daughter loves Saturday - she calls it Pop Tart day. Yeah, fairly high calorie (190 per tart) but only 5 g of fat and includes 5 g of fiber, more fiber than a Cheerios serving.
There are WAY worse things to have in the morning (donuts, Egg McMuffin...).

Posted by: NoVaMusicMom | August 28, 2009 3:11 PM | Report abuse

Wow! A minimum of four tsps of sugar for breakfast.

How does that compare with, say, 1/3 of a melon or a fresh peach, along with a piece of whole wheat toast with a tsp of honey?

Posted by: Bartolo1 | August 28, 2009 3:19 PM | Report abuse

Pop Tarts have no right to exist. Not only are they a nutritional atrocity, they taste bad! In fact, the only people in the world willing to eat Pop Tarts are we Americans, indoctrinated as kids to eat them by being hooked on the sugar and fat.
Pop Tarts failed miserably in overseas markets.
And they still contain trans fat; only the value is displayed as zero due to an FDA labeling regulation loophole.
For more information:

Posted by: Fooducate | August 28, 2009 3:25 PM | Report abuse

I learned to make my own pop-tarts at home, without adding sugar, and using real fruit and gluten free ingredients. Thank you Jules Gluten Free:

Posted by: --sg | August 28, 2009 10:30 PM | Report abuse

Post Tarts have every right to exist, what a silly comment.

I grew up having the occasional Pop-Tart, along with the occasional Happy Meal, and even the occasional Coca-Cola. Somehow, I grew up without becoming obese or diabetic.

You can have a Pop-Tart once in a while! You can eat whatever you want once in a while - just exercise and make sure you eat healthy most of the time.

Look, if you don't like Pop-Tarts or any other food item - don't eat it! No-one is forcing you.

Posted by: AutumnBanter | August 29, 2009 12:00 PM | Report abuse

"AutumnBanter", I agree with you! Just because some people out there have no willpower does not mean the rest of society should suffer.

Personally I would never eat a poptart but that does not mean others should be prevented from eating those oversized fat pills.

Posted by: rmullen7 | August 31, 2009 10:46 AM | Report abuse

We love these messages from Jennifer LaRue Huget. She actually reads and watches things we abandoned decades ago. In a curious way, it is heartening to see that the prostitutes of advertising are today as dedicated to their arts as were their predecessors in the 1950s and before.

However, we do not now or nor have we ever have needed this trash stream. All the precincts of media should be heavily taxed for any advertiser promoting consumable rather than durable products. The cost of garbage will limit the spread of garbage.

Posted by: AppDev | August 31, 2009 9:19 PM | Report abuse

It was a great marketing strategy for kellogg's to high fiber pop tarts. Other companies should follow suit. I predict that hostess will take their donuts, sprinkle some benefiber in the sugar coating, and voila - high fiber donuts! Sales will skyrocket. Riddle me this -- if I take a donut and dunk it in milk, did the donut become healthier? If I sprinkle fiber on a pop tart, or if I eat a candy bar with fiber sprinkled on top (e.g., fiber one bars -- 35% fiber!! and sugar 8 times in the ingredients!) I am still eating junk, it's just junk topped with fiber.

Posted by: mb129 | September 1, 2009 12:36 PM | Report abuse

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