After getting amped and sampling the sushi, we finally stepped into the belly of the beast—the Pop-Tarts World, which opened yesterday in Times Square. If you take the trip, be warned: In this World you are no longer a human; as you'll see from this video, you are a Pop-Tart. The store's hourly light show will, according to the militantly upbeat voiceover, "frost you, sprinkle you, and wrap in you in foil." Kinky! After this transformation, most actions undertaken in Pop-Tart World become cannibalistic, but tasty. Watch:
After the light "show," we thoroughly explored the World, interacting with zealous (perhaps sugared up?) Pop-Tart ambassadors, listening to the soundtrack (basically a Kidz Bop for Pop-Tarts), pondering the $25,000 Pop-Tart paintings, and watching tourists contract diabetes. But most of all we sampled the treats themselves, which had a soft freshness that blew the boxed, pre-packaged version out of the water. The Varietizer let us take advantage of the endless flavor possibilities by pulling two of every chosen flavor to compose an individualized box of treats. As for the more ambitious products the World offers... the sushi had sadly run out, but one New Yorker conspiratorially whispered, "The rumor is going around that Pop-Tart sushi is the best food item in New York." We know one place that rumor didn't start.
Visitors' reasons for checking out the World were divided along the tourist/native fault line. An 18-year-old New Yorker was underwhelmed, but still said, "I've been eating Pop-Tarts since I was a kid, so it's a lot of nostalgia." A businessman from across the street remarked, "The idea of Pop-Tarts arranged in new and interesting ways seemed like a fun way to relive being a kid." Whereas a group of 20 and 21-year-olds from Iowa emerged from their visit exclaiming, "Freakin' awesome! I want to live there!"
The novelty of hearing music with lines such as "Pop-Tarts all the time" and saying the word "varietize" wears off pretty quickly. Maybe we're a little cynical, but even the warmth of a brown sugar cinnamon can't expel the nagging feeling that Pop-Tarts World is just another touristy tribute to monocultural America. But then you bite into the hot fudge sundae flavor and you stop feeling jaded, because, after all is said and done, Pop-Tarts really are freakin' awesome.