BATTLE CREEK, MI: Sorry, health nuts: water- and Caesar-salad-flavored Pop-Tarts do not actually exist.
They are, however, the latest fake-news products that Pop Tarts has had to debunk on social media. The Kellogg brand routinely sees Photoshopped images of Pop-Tart boxes with wacky flavors, and it’s a problem that’s becoming even more common, said senior brand manager Joe Beauprez.
"We see many every day now," he said.
Pop-Tarts, which handles most social incidents internally via its social media manager, usually decides against responding to fake product shots. "We let the internet trolls do their thing," said Beauprez. "Generally, the Photoshopped flavors aren’t realistic flavors, so there’s not much need to set the record straight."
Yet in some cases, Pop-Tarts sees an opportunity to engage in a fun and self-aware way that’s in-line with its brand, he explained.
For example, the brand on Monday retweeted user @RJPATEL34, who had posted a picture of a box of "Frosted Water Pop-Tarts."
"This tweet serves to inform you that I am not interested in receiving any more questions about this product. Please use your common sense ok thank you have a great day," Pop-Tarts wrote.
Ok hello again internet. It's me, Pop-Tarts. This tweet serves to inform you that I am not interested in receiving any more questions about this product. Please use your common sense ok thank you have a great day https://t.co/o55JgG2HSJ— Pop-Tarts (@PopTartsUS) March 4, 2019
This followed a tongue-in-cheek tweet from the brand last month in response to a doctored image of "Caesar Salad Pop-Tarts," complete with a picture of the toaster pastry with bits of salad poking out of it.
"Hello internet yes we have a new product that appears to have leaked it is salad flavored Pop-Tarts yes it's real because of course everything you see online is true. Please keep asking me if it's real," Pop-Tarts tweeted.
Hello internet yes we have a new product that appears to have leaked it is salad flavored Pop-Tarts yes it's real because of course everything you see online is true. Please keep asking me if it's real https://t.co/PrHpjC3eCd— Pop-Tarts (@PopTartsUS) February 13, 2019
"Both the water and salad flavors had a higher level of virality; we see them getting reposted over and over at a higher rate than others and, additionally, people were tagging us into the conversation," said Beauprez. "More people talking about them made them a larger engagement opportunity."
When an image is really taking off, Pop-Tarts may respond in a fun way to provoke further conversation, either via a direct response to the specific user or more broadly to its followers.
Pop-Tarts isn’t the only brand that has been the victim of viral Photoshop hoaxes. Last November, an image of an in-store advertisement for Wonderful Pistachios and the animated movie "The Grinch," with an unusually crass slogan: "Green and salty. Just like my nuts," made the rounds on social media.
Wonderful Pistachios quickly said the slogan was fake. A representative told PRWeek at the time that it was "a Photoshopped image created by someone not associated with our company." The actual tagline was, "Green and salty. Just like me."