TOAST OF THE TOWN: The Pop-Tarts Bowl mascot, Strawberry, after the game between the North Carolina State Wolfpack and Kansas State Wildcats at Camping World Stadium in Orlando, Florida, on Dec. 28. (Getty Images)
Pop-Tart Bowl in Orlando Grabs Eyeballs
It’s been said that since the College Football Playoff debuted, holiday period bowl games are not worth watching.
Tell that to the 30,000 attendees who witnessed the nonpareil Pop-Tarts Bowl between the North Carolina State Wolfpack and the Kansas State Wildcats at Camping World Stadium in Orlando on Dec. 28, 2023.
The mascot, Strawberry, delighted the crowd and some 4.31 million ESPN viewers with in-game antics before being lowered into a toaster and devoured by celebratory Wildcats players.
Apex Media reported that Kellogg’s, the game’s title sponsor, got over $12 million worth of media impressions from the game, which had been named the Cheez-It Bowl after Kellogg’s bought the rights in 2020. The sponsor, now known as Kellanova, after a spinoff of Kellogg’s cereal business, is also naming rights sponsor of the New Year’s Day Cheez-It Citrus Bowl at Camping World Stadium.
Things went well enough that Kellanova announced on Monday that the Pop-Tarts Bowl will return for a sophomore season.
Allen Johnson, who runs Camping World Stadium, takes pride in the stadium’s role in the entertaining spectacle, which he is sure drew the eyes of plenty of non-college football fans.
“When I was first informed about it I was skeptical,” he said. “We’ve done some crazy things. We’ve had requests to put an RV on the upper deck (when Camping World sponsored the bowl). They wanted to get a crane and put an RV up there. We did not do that, but we have had RVs in the parking lot for the pregame. We’ve also had the mascot for Cheez-Its zip line down from the light tower to the field. We’ve had the the (UCF) Golden Knights parachute guys drop in with the game ball, which other people have had too, but it’s pretty cool, because you can’t do that in a dome stadium.”
Johnson said through the years, the stadium has accommodated Oklahoma University’s chuck wagon, the University of Colorado’s Ralphie the Buffalo and the Florida State Seminoles’ Chief Osceola and his flaming spear.
“But the play the Pop-Tarts Bowl)got in the national media — it was riveting to see how many people got excited about it,” he said.
The stadium’s food concessionaire Levy, was all aboard as well, producing specialty Pop-Tarts- and Cheez-Its related items.
There were Cheez-Its grilled cheese sandwiches, a Cheez-Its hamburger, Cheez-Its nachos, brown sugar- cinnamon Pop-Tarts cheesecake, Pop-Tart infused ice cream,
“The cool part about it is, who doesn’t like a Pop-Tart, right?” Johnson said. “The only debate is whether you toast it or not.”