The ‘Unfrosted’ Movie Might Be a Comedy, But Pop-Tarts Were No Joke for Real Creator William Post

jerry seinfeld smiling as he stands next to a pop tart mascot at the premiere of his film unfrosted
The True Story of Pop-Tarts and ‘Unfrosted’Charley Gallay - Netflix
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What started as a bit in comedian Jerry Seinfeld’s standup routine is now a full-length movie about one of America’s favorite breakfast snacks.

Unfrosted hits streaming service Netflix on Friday, May 3, and provides a fictional look at the creation of Pop-Tarts in the 1960s. TV legend Seinfeld, 70, directed the farcical film and stars as Bob Cabana, a Kellogg’s executive determined to win over consumers with the new fruit-filled pastries.

But while Cabana may be the hero of Unfrosted, he was no Pop-Tart prodigy in real life. In fact, he didn’t exist at all. According to one of the movie’s writers and producers, Seinfeld’s character is a stand-in for William “Bill” Post, the real bakery plant manager who helped perfect the tasty treat.

Here’s what you need to know about Post, his legacy, and why he is absent from the new movie.

Post worked his way up the corporate ladder

Born on June 27, 1927, to Dutch immigrants in Grand Rapids, Michigan, Post showed off his persistent work ethic from an early age.

According to the New York Times, Post worked part-time washing trucks for the Hekman Biscuit Company while attending high school. After graduating in 1945, he was drafted into the Army Air Corps and served overseas in Japan.

Post returned to Michigan and his Hekman gig soon after. He enrolled at Calvin College but dropped out in 1950 when he was promoted to full-time personnel manager at the baking company. By 1964, he was in charge of the Grand Rapids plant for Hekman—eventually part of the Keebler Company.

That year, four executives from the Kellogg Company met with Post about a new product that could alter the course of breakfast.

Post and his team made thousands of samples

The Kellogg’s prototype was simple—two pieces of dough that formed a rectangle with filling inside. The company wanted the product to be toaster-friendly, serving as a direct foil to the Country Squares created by rival Post (no relation to Bill).

william post smiling as he stands behind a toaster with a pop tart in the tray
William “Bill” Post with a Pop-Tart in 2003. He said his favorite flavor was strawberry.AP

“There were so many naysayers,” Bill Post told WWMT News Channel 3 in 2021. “Some of my good friends would say, ‘I don’t know, Bill.’ They would tell us it’s not such a good idea.” Despite this, he agreed to help, forming a team to perfect the new food item in only two weeks.

“To get that done, I had to break every rule in the book,” Post said. He estimated he and his team made about 10,000 samples by hand.

In the meantime, Post enlisted his son Dan, 13, and daughter Rachel, 9, as unofficial taste-testers. Progress came quickly: “And the first ones—I have to tell you—were not great. So we would kind of pull up our nose,” Dan Post told NPR. “And we’d say, well, more filling, or the crust is, like, too hard. And so, within two weeks, it was a really good product. I mean, we really liked it.”

The squares debuted in 1964 with four flavors: strawberry, blueberry, brown sugar cinnamon, and apple-currant. The frosting came a few years later, also Post’s idea.

They were initially called fruit scones, but the Kellogg marketing department knew it could come up with a much punchier name. Chairman William LaMothe found inspiration from famed painter Andy Warhol and the widespread “pop art” movement, settling on similar-sounding Pop-Tarts.

Post wasn't officially credited as a creator

Post and Kellogg’s had a bonafide hit, as the first test shipment of 45,000 cases for each flavor wholly sold out in Cleveland, Ohio. Almost six decades later, consumers purchased around 3 billion Pop-Tarts in 2022.

According to his NYT obituary, Post eventually became the senior vice president at Keebler before retiring at age 56. He went on to serve as a consultant for the Kellogg Company for another 20 years.

His passion for Pop-Tarts didn’t waver. Post frequently spoke to students about his story, hoping to inspire them to work hard and pursue their dreams. After arriving in style, his car sporting a “POPTART” license plate, he passed out samples of the snack from his continuous supply.

Post died of heart failure at age 96 on February 10 in Grand Rapids, Michigan. His passing drew attention to a surprising fact: He was not officially cited by Kellogg’s as a creator of Pop-Tarts.

The official corporate history of Pop-Tarts credits LaMothe for his “vision of transforming a delicious breakfast into a toaster-ready rectangle that could go anywhere” in 1963. Similarly, “Doc” Joe Thompson and his kitchen crew are cited with creating “an ingenious hack on toast and jam.” However, Post’s role in perfecting the Pop-Tart recipe is not mentioned.

After news of Post’s death, the Kellogg snacks branch—now known as Kellanova after a 2023 division within the company—did release a statement saying he had “played an important role in co-creating the iconic Pop-Tarts brand.”

In any case, Post was a crucial part of the pastry’s history and the blueprint for the new film.

boxes of strawberry flavor pop tarts on a shelf
Boxes of Pop-Tarts sit on a grocery store shelf.Getty Images

Post was initially part of Unfrosted

Because the Pop-Tarts brand was not involved in the making of Unfrosted—though it did give permission for the film—Seinfeld and his team of writers had plenty of creative freedom with the plot and characters—including Bob Cabana, essentially a substitute for Post.

Writer and producer Spike Feresten recently explained to Eater that Post was a character early in the creative process, but writers found his last name—the same as the rival company to Kellogg—problematic. “We did have the character named Bill Post in a couple of drafts, and we liked the idea that [character] Edsel Kellogg would be suspicious of someone named Post,” Feresten said. “But when we realized the movie was only going to be about 90 minutes, we thought that might be too much of a wrinkle, and it might confuse the audience.”

Watch Unfrosted on Netflix starting May 3

The film’s plot includes fictional depictions of real-life figures like President John F. Kennedy, former Russian premier Nikita Khrushchev, broadcaster Walter Cronkite, and comedian Johnny Carson. However, none had a true role in the creation of Pop-Tarts. “That was the guiding principle: There were not rules as far as it had to be the person [involved] or not be the person; it’s just whatever’s funniest,” Feresten said.

Jerry Seinfeld directs and plays Cabana in Unfrosted, which begins streaming Friday, May 3. Melissa McCarthy, Hugh Grant, Amy Schumer, and Peter Dinklage co-star in the snack-based comedy.

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