What to know about the Pop-Tarts Bowl, this year’s tastiest college football game

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Just when we thought college football’s bowl season could not get any more unique, a new challenger has arrived — the first-ever Pop-Tarts Bowl, which takes place Thursday when Kansas State faces off against North Carolina State in Orlando. 

Not only is this the first bowl game sponsored by the famed sweet treat brand, but it’s also the first bowl game featuring an edible mascot.

The game’s trophy also features real, edible pop tarts in toaster slots, which was unveiled Tuesday.

[Related: What we’re watching in the non-CFP college football bowl games]

Here are some more answers to FAQs about the first-ever Pop-Tarts Bowl!

Is this a brand-new bowl game?

Not entirely. Yes, it’s the first-ever edition of this bowl game presented by and named after Pop-Tarts. But the game itself has been around since 1990, starting in Miami before moving up to Orlando in 2001. College football fans may recognize it under some of its former presenting sponsors/names, including the Champs Sports Bowl, Camping World Bowl and Cheez-It Bowl.

But while this bowl game is no stranger to some tasty snack-related promotion, Pop-Tarts is taking it to a whole new level.

About that, did you say the mascot is edible?

Yep! Though specific details (and the mascot costume itself) are being kept — maybe literally? — under wraps, the Pop-Tarts Bowl made waves by announcing that it would not only feature a giant pop tart as the game’s mascot but that the mascot would be edible — and eaten by the winning team in celebration.

The mascot will still be a live mascot, running around the stadium and interacting with fans while doing standard mascot things before it meets its fate at the end of the game.

Well, kind of. A bowl official told The Athletic that during the game, a person will wear a “traditional” mascot costume made up of “non-edible” materials.

“The edible mascot will only be revealed after the game ends. … No humans will be harmed in the enjoyment of the Pop-Tarts edible mascot,” the official said.

Wait, so how big is this edible mascot?

As of now, that is unclear. By our calculations, however, it would take roughly 17 pop-tarts to reach six feet, which would mean it would take 289 pop-tarts to cover the space needed for a 17×17 human-sized pop-tart.

Using the nutritional facts for a normal-sized frosted strawberry pop tart, that means the edible mascot could have more than 2,600 grams of fat and 17,000 grams of sugar. Let’s hope the winning team is hungry!

What about the trophy?

As mentioned above, the trophy itself looks like a standard football trophy — except for the two toaster-like slots at the top that contain edible pop tarts. The game’s two coaches, Kansas State’s Chris Klieman and North Carolina State’s Dave Doeren, unveiled the very on-brand trophy — by lifting off its jumbo Pop-Tarts silver wrapper — on Tuesday.

Are there any fun prop bets on the Pop-Tarts celebration?

Yes, there are! The Pop-Tarts bowl has a fun prop pick ‘em game that it’s calling — wait for it — Prop-Tarts.

Fans can go to Prop-Tarts.com before kickoff and make prop picks from the following categories:

  • First postgame bite of the edible mascot
  • Postgame celebratory Pop-Tarts dump material
  • Method of edible mascot entrance
  • First flavor mentioned on TV broadcast
  • Will a player pretend to bite the mascot in a touchdown celebration?

Oh, and the prize for the prop pick’em game is not money — it’s Pop-Tarts. Lots and lots of Pop-Tarts.

Are the teams embracing the Pop-Tarts festivities?

They sure are! North Carolina State’s in-house secondary mascot and kickoff tee retriever, Ripken The Bat Dog, is fully on board.

So is Kansas State wide receiver Ty Bowman!

Both teams also did blind Pop-Tart taste tests.

What about the game itself?

If you scrolled down this far and are looking for actual information on the teams, credit to you. Kansas State (8-4, 6-3 Big 12) is slightly favored over North Carolina State (9-3, 6-2 ACC) in the matchup. 


North Carolina State Wolfpack



Kansas State Wildcats


Both teams will be without several key pieces due to transfers and NFL draft entries, including their 2023 starting quarterbacks. Veteran Kansas State signal-caller Will Howard entered the transfer portal back on Nov. 27 and has reportedly received interest from several big-name schools, including USC, Florida State and Miami. Freshman Avery Johnson will make his first collegiate start for the Wildcats. 

[Keep up with the biggest college football transfers of the 2023-24 portal window here]

North Carolina State will start Brennan Armstrong, who was the Wolfpack’s starter at the beginning of the season before losing the job to MJ Morris, who has since transferred to Maryland. With Armstrong out of eligibility past this year, former Costal Carolina quarterback Grayson McCall has committed to transfer to N.C. State and is in line to be the starter next season.

You can check out our expert predictions for the 2023 Pop-Tarts bowl from FOX Sports gambling expert Chris “The Bear” Fallica here and national college football writer Bryan Fischer here.

The 2023 Pop-Tarts Bowl kicks off from Camping World Stadium in Orlando, Fla. at 5:45 p.m. ET on ESPN. A few short hours later, a champion will be crowned — and a mascot will be eaten.

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