|Slang City Mail|
|September 18, 2003|
Slang of the Week: pop
Poptarts are an American breakfast pastry, beloved by children for their unnatural colors and strong resemblance to dessert. The intended meaning from Kellogg’s, their manufacturer, is that they are a tart (little pie) that pops out of the toaster. But although the slang version is related to this sugary treat, it also comes from pop, as in pop music, and tart, a slang word for prostitute from the Victorian era. While people still use tart in that sense, it isn’t common in the US.
Ironically, turn-of-the-century alternative health guru and nutcase (crazy person) John Harvey Kellogg would have been horrified to find a snack bearing his name turned into something suggestive. He believed that sex was unhealthy and never consummated his own marriage. Actually, he wasn’t that crazy about his brother Will marketing corn flakes under the family name either, since he disapproved of the sugar they contained.
As an aside, it is probably no coincidence that cornflake enjoyed a brief popularity in the 1970s as a synonym for "eccentric person." Of course, the shortened version, flake, is more common today.
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