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College Bowl Season Recap: Sports’ First Edible Mascot Earns Pop-Tarts Millions in Media Exposure

January 9, 2024

With the 2023–2024 college football bowl season having come to a close on January 8th with Michigan’s rousing victory over Washington in the CFP National Championship, let's take a look at the thrilling matchups and ingenious partnerships that made this postseason unforgettable.

While the activation game across all 43 matchups was strong, one of this year’s most memorable (and messy) marketing coups took place during the Duke's Mayo Bowl on December 27th, when West Virginia Head Coach Neal Brown gamely celebrated the team’s win by having a bucket of Duke's Real Mayonnaise dumped on his head. Jeff Traylor, head coach of the UTSA Roadrunners, enjoyed a similar moment during the Scooter’s Coffee Frisco Bowl, receiving a Scooter’s Coffee bath after his team defeated Marshall University’s Thundering Herd. 

But the most brilliant marketing triumph of the season—and arguably in bowl game history—was the debut (and subsequent demise) of Strawberry, the Pop-Tarts mascot, at the first-ever Pop-Tarts Bowl on December 28th. The sweet and singular sensation was unveiled with much fanfare during a pregame ceremony, springing from a giant toaster in a blaze of smoke and sparklers before pumping up the crowd prior to kickoff. 

Following Kansas State's victory, the team playfully toasted Strawberry in the same oversized toaster, from which he magically re-emerged as a life-sized, edible version for the Wildcats to nibble on during the postgame celebration—thus becoming the first edible mascot in sports history. 

In the process, the Pop-Tarts Bowl transformed a standard college football match into a viral sensation that earned the brand, owned by Kellanova, $12.1M in media exposure—and set a new standard for future bowl game sponsorship activations. 

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