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Cat in the Stax: The Story of Pop-Tarts

By Ethan Shea

"Pop-Tarts in the Stax"

Pop-Tarts! They’re everyone’s favorite breakfast treat.

Although they’re traditionally meant for mornings I personally believe it’s always time for a Pop-Tart.

After learning I share a birthday with Pop-Tarts, as the company was founded on Sept. 14, I couldn’t resist writing this week’s Cat in the Stax on the history of one of my favorite snacks.

The story of Pop-Tarts begins in 1963 when Kellogg thought of a treat that was going to be called “Fruit Scone.” Luckily, that name didn’t stick, and Pop-Tarts replaced the lackluster title before the product’s official launch in 1964. The name Pop-Tarts originated as a pun on the Pop-Art movement of the sixties.

The very first Pop-Tarts were released in Cleveland, Ohio with their four signature flavors: blueberry, strawberry, brown sugar cinnamon, and apple-currant. No one seemed to know what a currant was, so Pop-Tarts were quick to drop that name from their lineup.

Part of what made Pop-Tarts so successful were their advertisements. In the 1970s, Milton the Toaster became a beloved mascot for the brand. However, Milton’s time with Pop-Tarts did not last long.

Interestingly, the Frosted Pop-Tarts we know and love were not released until 1967, as frosting that could withstand the heat of a toaster was yet to be developed at the time of the treat’s initial release.

"The Breakfast Book"

The Breakfast Book by Andrew Dalby

It may have taken 37 years, but the weaponization of this breakfast snack was inevitable. In 2001, the United States military dropped 2.4 million Pop-Tarts over Afghanistan during their attack on the country.

The U.S. government claims this choice was made to introduce civilians to American food, fight hunger, and make a case for America’s good intentions in the region. I don’t think Pop-Tarts cancel out bombs, but the political and military use of the product is nonetheless fascinating.

Although I think Pop-Tarts need not be limited to breakfast, the snack is prominently associated with the most important meal of the day. Here at Falvey, there are several texts with all sorts of information on breakfast that may change the way you look at your morning meals. Here are just a few:

Make sure you comment your favorite Pop-Tarts flavor down below … unless it’s not s’mores, which is the correct answer to that question.

Headshot of Ethan SheaEthan Shea is a second-year graduate student in the English department and Graduate Assistant at Falvey Library.


The Great Font Debate

By Ethan Shea

"Woman Typing"

If you’re a fan of Times New Roman, you may want to sit down.

Earlier this month, the U.S. State Department officially adopted Calibri as its font of choice, phasing out Times New Roman, which has been used since 2004. Previously, the State Department used Courier New.

The decision was made in the name of accessibility. Although both Calibri and Times New Roman are classified as accessible fonts for both writers and readers, there is a critical difference between the two. Calibri is sans serif and Times New Roman is serif. Serifs are little wings or projections adorning letters in fonts like Times New Roman, and sans serif fonts simply do not have these additions.

"'Why Fonts Matter'"

“Why Fonts Matter” Cover

It is also important to note that Calibri, for example, is technically not a font until it includes other factors like size or italics. On its own, Calibri and Times New Roman are really just typefaces.

The State Department makes these sorts of decisions as research on accessibility evolves, and their hope is that other prominent font-users will follow. Who knows which organization will adopt Calibri in the near future?

Although it is certainly best practice to use the font that is most accessible, I have to say, I would be sad to see Times New Roman go. There is just something about the embellishments of serif fonts that I find aesthetically pleasing. At least they did not choose Comic Sans!

For more information on this national event, check out this New York Times article.

Accessibility is of the utmost importance here at Falvey as well. For example, did you know that Falvey Library’s publication Mosaic is published electronically in an accessible format, designed to be read by screen readers?

Moreover, you can order Why Fonts Matter through interlibrary loan. This book delves into the science behind how fonts influence readers.

How do you feel about this change of font? Feel free to leave a comment below!

Headshot of Ethan SheaEthan Shea is a second-year graduate student in the English Department and Graduate Assistant at Falvey Library.


Cat in the Stax: The Trillion-Dollar Coin

By Ethan Shea

"Spilled Pennies"

Once again, the infamous American debt ceiling is all over the news.

Last Thursday, the United States hit the $31.4 trillion debt limit. What does that mean? In brief, the debt ceiling (or limit) is the amount of money the United States government can borrow to spend on programs such as social security, paying government workers and anything else the government deems necessary. Because the United States must borrow money to afford such payments, failing to raise the debt ceiling means the government could default on its debt.

Even when the United States technically reaches the debt ceiling, there is still time to avert economic ruin. By taking “extraordinary measures,” the government can continue to pay debts for a few months even after the limit is reached.

There are plenty of ideas floating around that all claim to be solutions to this economic issue, but there is one particular plan I find both fascinating and hilarious.

"Trillion-dollar coin design by DonkeyHotey"

Trillion-dollar coin design by DonkeyHotey

This idea is known as the trillion-dollar coin. The concept involves minting a coin worth one-trillion dollars and placing it in the Federal Reserve. This would give the United States more spending power and the ability to pay its debts.

Miraculously, because of a 1996 law, such coinage would be legal if it were minted with non-traditional metal such as platinum, as there are no value restrictions officially imposed on platinum coinage.

This concept was first introduced in 2011 during a debt ceiling crisis that lasted until the end of July, just days before the U.S. would officially default. Ever since, the trillion dollar coin has faded into obscurity and subsequently reemerged when another debt crisis looms.

Despite the appealing simplicity of the idea, there are quite a few reasons why minting a one-trillion dollar coin could be harmful. The biggest risk is rapid inflation, which is already a major issue in the United States.

But above all, minting such a coin would be an action never taken before, so despite speculation, no one truly knows what would happen. Markets generally dislike such unpredictability, so to keep investors calm, government will most likely avoid such a move.

If you’re interested in learning more about the trillion-dollar coin or economics in general, check out Falvey Library’s subject guide on economics. There, you can access economic article databases, peruse relevant statistics or even chat with Linda Hauck, Falvey’s Business Librarian.

With complimentary access to the New York Times provided by Villanova University, you can also read this in-depth article on the current debt ceiling debacle.

Headshot of Ethan SheaEthan Shea is a second-year graduate student in the English Department and Graduate Assistant at Falvey Library.



Last Modified: January 25, 2023

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