Wednesday, March 30, 2016

Justice League Pop-Tarts!

Fighting for truth, justice and sodium acid pyrophosphate.

By: Jimbo X

The reviews are rolling in for the much ballyhooed Batman v. Superman flick, and well - when the best thing you can say about it is that it didn't produce any mass shootings like the last Caped Crusader movie, you know people have been let down something fierce

While the long-awaited Bats vs. Supes movie may suck harder than an short-circuited vacuum cleaner, at least the critical flop gave us some pretty interesting merchandise. Case in point? Kellogg's limited-time only Justice League Pop-Tarts, which are obviously lead-ins for the upcoming Avengers rip-off that will likely be just as shitty as BvS, if not an even more colossal clustefuck. 

So, how do these newfangled Justice League Pop-Tarts work, you might be asking? Well, I am glad you did. As it turns out, they are more or less your garden variety toaster pastries (right down to the nauseatingly basic frosted strawberry flavor), but with a pretty big twist: each Tart has an iconic D.C. Comics character embossed on it. 

Let's take a closer gander at these suckers, why don't we? Well, too bad, because we're going to anyways. 

As you can see, these exclusive edition Tarts are part of the "Printed Fun" lineup, which in the past has included toaster pastries emblazoned with edible MLB logos and a whole slew of seasonal iconography. Strangely, the box also boasts a Team U.S. Olympics logo, which I thought was really weird until I realized it was 2016 and the Summer Olympics are being held later this year in Brazil. In that, I guess it makes a lot of sense to posit the image alongside The Flash, whose defining characteristic is that he's fast as fuck. You know, like a long-distance runner and shit? Eh, maybe it's just a coincidence ... but probably not

The back of the box features the big seven of the DC Universe ... albeit, with Cyborg filling in for the Martian Manhunter, because to Kellogg's, apparently green lives don't matter. Interestingly, there are only six featured bios on the back of the box, and take a wild guess which of the seven featured characters doesn't get his own overview? Go on, guess. Take a wild shot. Well, if you said "the only black guy," you sir, are correctamundo. And probably racist, too, but who's counting? 

Probably my favorite thing about the product was the side bar on the box, in which it appears Aquaman is giving you a quick primer on how toasters work. I don't know what's funnier; that a character known for hardly ever emerging from the ocean depths somehow has the fundamentals of contemporary kitchen appliances down, or that Kellogg's assumed there would be people in the 21st century with no goddamn clue how Pop-Tarts worked. Regardless, combine the two and you have yourself a recipe for the LULZ en masse. 

So more or less, the Pop-Tarts are kinda like baseball or Pokemon cards. You really have no clue what kind of character you are going to get on your pastry, and presumably, Kellogg's mass produced a whole shit load of the less popular characters and intentionally kept the supply of the more iconic heroes short so kids would get all excited about finding Supes or Batman after having to chew through 17 Aquamen. 

To be fair, the artwork here is pretty solid (talk about post-post-modernism - celebration of toaster pastry drawings.) The characters, for the most part, look pretty good printed on the Tarts, but the quality of the pressing fluctuates. Some are very vibrant with colors that almost seem to leap out at you, while others are fairly faint and a little smeary. 

It appears that the Tarts feature multiple prints of the same character - as in, pastries depicting individual heroes striking different dramatic poses. Por exemple, we've got Aquaman here (rocking the old school Super Friends short hair look, directly contradicting the character's Rob Zombie-like appearance in the DC cinematic universe) trying to jump off the frosting and grab the consumer's face AND a shot of said character ready to toss a trident through somebody or something's ass. I am not sure how many different variations there are of each character, but I'm guessing there are probably a few different permutations for each headliner floating around out there - I mean, I can't imagine fucking Aquaman being the only character to get the multi-pose treatment here.

There were some surprises in the mix, too. Among them was the inclusion of a Supergirl-branded pastry, which is kinda' out of left field seeing as how not only is she not usually thought of as a Justice League character but also because she isn't featured anywhere on the product packaging. Then again, maybe Kellogg's confused her with Wonder Woman and went ahead and mass produced this Tart on accident? Methinks this one has the makings of a new consumer urban legend, no? 

Of course, Kellogg's did take the low road on a few pastries. I mean, what could possibly be lazier than just printing the fucking Justice League logo on a dollop of rock-hard frosting and calling it good? 

Well, I suppose I can think of at least ONE thing that's lazier: printing a barely two-inch Superman insignia on a pastry and taking the rest of the day off. Shit, at least printing out the Green Lantern emblem would've required a LITTLE bit of effort, guys. 

A product meant to cash in on Batman v. Superman, you'd be pleased to note that, yes, there are indeed a few Pop-Tarts in the lineup depicting the Man of Steel and the Caped Crusader. Interestingly enough, however, in a box of no less than 16 different pastries, I encountered just one Tart each of Supes and Bats. Meanwhile, I pulled out no less than FIVE Aquaman Tarts, and fellas, you don't know what a "disappointing breakfast" is until you've had to chow down on multiple Arthur Currys when all you wanted was ONE goddamn Flash with artificial fruit filling. 

While the Tarts themselves were rather unremarkable - literally, they are JUST your standard strawberry-flavored breakfast items - I could really get behind the "printed" concept here. I, for one, would love to see some NFL or NHL branded Pop-Tarts, but guys, you have GOT to step up the novelty factor here. Spraying some edible ink on strawberry pastry might be well and dandy for the Justice League license, but we KNOW Kellogg's has it in 'em to do some really extravagant LTO products - remember those bitchin' Spider-Man Tarts from 2012? So why can't they manufacture multi-flavored, super-ornamental Pop-Tarts tying in to other popular multimedia constructs? Take the WWE for example; can you imagine chomping into a peanut butter flavored John Cena Tart, only to unwrap another foil packet and finding yourself a green-sprinkled-bedecked oatmeal delight pastry emblazoned with the mug of The Undertaker? 

The potential is certainly there, and perhaps Kellogg's can better implement the hook when - or if - the newfangled Justice League movie ever gets released. Hell, I'll even take some lemon-lime Tarts to commemorate Suicide Squad as a warm-up, just as long as the gustatory weirdness is equal to or greater than the aesthetic weirdness of the product as a whole. 

And hey ... if all of this corporate-branding whoring somehow results in me getting to taste blackberry-flavored struddles shaped like Lobo, I reckon it was worth every misstep in the learning process along the way.


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