Snack bowl: Pop-Tarts hitches onto America’s fervour for college football and replaces Cheez-It as game sponsor

By Gill Hyslop

- Last updated on GMT

Pop-Tarts is the new sponsor of college football. Pic: Kellogg Company/GettyImages
Pop-Tarts is the new sponsor of college football. Pic: Kellogg Company/GettyImages

Related tags Pop-Tarts Cheez-it Kellogg company Kellanova football

The Kellogg’s-owned toaster pastry brand has signed a multi-year agreement with Florida Citrus Sports to become the latest title sponsor of college football, which holds the attendee record among bowl games.

The Blockbuster Bowl was born in Miami, Florida, in 1990 with a marquee matchup between Florida State and Penn State, which attracted more than 74,000 fans. It has had many names, including Carquest Bowl, Florida Tourism Bowl, Russell Athletic Bowl and Camping World Bowl, among others, but most recently as the Cheez-It Bowl ​(from 2020 to 2022).

It has also become must-see TV as one of America’s favourite postseason contests. Last year’s game - a 35-32 Florida State University victory over University of Oklahoma - drew an audience of 5.4 million viewers, making it the year’s second-most-watched postseason game.

College football Getty
Pic: GettyImages

College football is an American love affair that baffles outsiders.

Similar to a game of professional American football but played in the postseason lineup by teams of students from universities, colleges and military academies, it is community spirit, profound loyalty and the friction of competition that contribute to the excitement of the game.

Alumni become powerful ambassadors for their university teams and rivalries can run deep, with fans of losing sides baying for their chance of redemption.

The US also has several collegiate associations - National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA), National Association of Intercollegiate Athletics NAIA and National Junior College Athletic Association (NJCAA) - that have helped scores of student teams compete at a very high level in dozens of sports. Several of these teams - specifically those playing Division I college football - have a budget of over $100m.

Pop-Tarts fanfest

Pop-Tarts fanfest

Organised by Florida Citrus Sports, the 2023 Pop-Tarts Bowl will feature the top teams from the Atlantic Coast and Big 12 Conferences and is scheduled to take place on 28 December at Camping World Stadium in Orlando, Florida. It will also be broadcast live on ESPN.

This will be the 34th​ edition of the game, but the first time Pop-Tarts has sponsored an NCAA college football bowl.

“Since turning toast and jam into an ingenious toaster pastry almost 60 years ago, Pop-Tarts has always been about making the world more fun, more unexpected and more delicious for fans of all kinds,”​ said Heidi Ray, senior director of marketing, Pop-Tarts.

“We’re ecstatic to be the new title sponsor of the Pop-Tarts Bowl with our partners at Florida Citrus Sports and cannot wait to host Crazy Good experiences for fans and players alike in Orlando and for those joining us from home.”

The multi-year partnership between Pop-Tarts and Florida Citrus Sports includes exclusive naming rights, digital and social media content, in-stadium exposure, product sampling and onsite activation at the game and other events, including a parade of brands, pep rally and official pregame tailgate with live entertainment and interactive games.

“We’re excited to partner with Pop-Tarts and look forward to welcoming another one of America’s most beloved brands to Orlando,”​ said Florida Citrus Sports CEO Steve Hogan.

“The best bowl trip in college football only gets better with the Most Valuable Pastry on your team, so get ready for unforgettable experiences at the Pop-Tarts Bowl debut this December.”

The cheesiest Citrus Bowl


While the Pop-Tarts Bowl has enlisted a new sponsor, Cheez-It will remain the ‘cheesiest’ sponsor of college football’s Citrus Bowl.

The Citrus Bowl is one of the oldest bowl games in all of college football - contested annually since 1947 - and typically featuring one team from the Big Ten and one team from the SEC.

Last year, Cheez-It bought the game’s naming rights, but it has also been called the Florida Citrus Bowl, Capital One Citrus Bowl and Buffalo Wild Wings Citrus Bowl, among other names. It’s also organised by the not-for-profit event management organisation - which has a mission to make a positive impact to the lives of those living in the Orlando region - and is played at the Camping World Stadium.

The 2023 Cheez-It Citrus Bowl - the 78th​ edition of the game and Cheez-It’s second as sponsor - kicks off on New Year’s Day in Orlando and will air on  ABC.

Kellogg Company will spin off its North American cereal business by the end of 2023,​ at which time, Pop-Tarts and Cheez-Its will become part of the Kellanova portfolio.

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