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William 'Bill' Post, inventor of Pop-Tarts, dies at 96

Kellogg's executives approached Post in 1963 at Keebler Co. with an idea for a new breakfast pastry to put in a toaster.
Kellogg's brand Strawberry flavored Pop-Tarts.
Kellogg's strawberry-flavored Pop-Tarts.Wilfredo Lee / AP file

William “Bill” Post, the man credited with inventing the iconic toaster pastry Pop-Tarts, has died at 96.

Post worked as the plant manager for the Michigan-based Hekman Biscuit Co., later known as Keebler Co., when Kellogg’s asked the company to create a new breakfast product.

The Pop-Tarts inventor began his career as a part-time worker in high school washing trucks at Hekman. After serving in the Army Air Corps in occupied Japan during World War II, Post returned to the company and worked up the corporate ladder.

By age 21, Post was the personnel manager of the company and worked in all aspects of the business, including sales and production. That’s when Kellogg’s executives approached him.

The executives had an idea for something "like a piece of pie, the shape of a slice of bread, fork marks around the edge, two pieces of dough with some filling in" to put in a toaster. Post took the idea and turned it into a real product, according to Kellanova.

"It is at this juncture that Bill is often credited for having 'invented' the Pop Tart," Post's obituary states. "To be accurate, however, Bill would say, 'I assembled an amazing team that developed Kellogg's concept of a shelf-stable toaster pastry into a fine product that we could bring to market in the span of just four months.'"

Pop-Tarts debuted to the public in 1964 with four original flavors: strawberry, blueberry, brown sugar cinnamon and apple-currant. The toaster pastry remains a favorite among customers 60 years later, with around 3 billion sold in 2022.

In 1967, Post moved to Illinois and began working at the Keebler corporate offices. He retired as a senior vice president at 56 but stayed on as a consultant per Kellogg's request for the next 20 years.