College football bowl season isn’t what it used to be anymore — and that fact was highlighted during Thursday night’s Pop-Tarts Bowl in Orlando, Florida.
The advent of the College Football Playoff has made bowl season something of an afterthought for all but the most die-hard of college football fans.
If you’re not gambling on a game and/or didn’t go to one of the schools competing, why would the average fan care about the “Jimmy Kimmel LA Bowl presented by Stifel”?
That apathy has only gotten worse with the College Football Playoff all but screaming: “These are the only bowls that matter!”
(The College Football Playoff cycles through the six oldest bowls — the Rose Bowl, the Orange Bowl, the Sugar Bowl, the Cotton Bowl Classic, the Peach Bowl and the Fiesta Bowl — as hosts for playoff games.)
So what are all these lesser bowls, not deserving of playoff recognition, to do?
Apparently, they’re going for virality and shock factor, if the scene in Orlando on Thursday was any indication.
First, the specifics: The Kansas State Wildcats toppled the North Carolina State Wolfpack 28-19 in a game that saw the winning team take an early lead, only to have to fend off a furious comeback attempt.
To highlight the general apathy toward the “Pop-Tarts Bowl,” per ESPN, the stadium the teams were playing in was at less than half-capacity, seating just over 31,000 fans in an arena that can hold 65,000.
Well, to any fans that skipped out on yet another innocuous and seemingly superfluous bowl game, they missed one of the more bizarre post-game “celebrations” (some may call this a ritual sacrifice) you’ll ever see.
Take a look for yourself below, but be warned: If seeing grown men pick apart a college bowl game mascot for consumption makes you uncomfortable, prepare for discomfort.
Here we are… the edible mascot in the Pop-Tarts Bowl.. pic.twitter.com/0XgKGoXseS
— PJ Green (@PJGreenTV) December 29, 2023
As the overgrown Pop-Tart mascot held up a sign that funnily read “Dreams Really Do Come True,” it was lowered into a massive novelty “toaster.”
Out the front popped out the “cooked” version of the mascot — which the Wildcats ferociously tore into.
The entire scene went viral for obvious reasons — and that virality absolutely helped lift the profile of this otherwise unknown bowl game.
Make Pop Tart Bowl a playoff game
— Lost Tribe Sports (@LostTribeSports) December 29, 2023
“Make Pop Tart Bowl a playoff game,” one social media user posted on X in response to the viral video, perhaps highlighting why bowl games are going for these lavish celebrations.
Other fans on social media were simply stunned that this celebration left the cutting room floor.
The bizarre, but thoroughly apolitical, nature of this all (again, imagine trying to explain to a child that a giant, sentient Pop-Tart is going to be cooked alive to be eaten by football players) has clearly put the bowl game on the map, and that fact wasn’t lost on conservative sports pundit Clay Travis.
“Kansas State really won the Poptart Bowl and then ate a gigantic pop tart on the field to celebrate,” Travis posted to X. “Whoever thought this up deserves to replace the entire Bud Light marketing department.”
Kansas State really won the Poptart Bowl and then ate a gigantic pop tart on the field to celebrate. Whoever thought this up deserves to replace the entire Bud Light marketing department. pic.twitter.com/SZJL6iQIO1
— Clay Travis (@ClayTravis) December 29, 2023
For the unfamiliar, Bud Light has been hemorrhaging money, executives, consumers and goodwill since partnering with transgender influencer Dylan Mulvaney in April — a decidedly controversial move for obvious reasons.
Pop-Tarts, meanwhile, appears to only have gained fans after the weirdness of this celebration.
Given the tame nature of some of the other themed bowl game celebrations (i.e. it’s gross, but the winning coach usually gets a “mayo bath” dumped all over them for winning the Duke’s Mayo Bowl) and how long those types of celebrations have been around, it’s clear that the over-sized Pop-Tart mascot struck a particular chord with college football fans.
It’s not every day college football fans get to watch a living, breathing mascot get cooked on-air for consumption (hopefully the Sun Bowl, which is sponsored by fellow breakfast luminary Tony the Tiger, doesn’t get any ideas from this). In terms of capturing national attention, mission accomplished.
This is one celebration that people won’t soon forget … but who won the game again?
This article appeared originally on The Western Journal.