What if I told you there was a proxy war between Kellogg’s and Post as they raced to their version of the Pop-Tart out into the world in the early 1960s? Yes, the one you might have eaten this morning may have been a vehicle of contention during The Cold War if you take “Unfrosted: The Pop-Tarts Story” as gospel. In reality, the film stakes between the real and comedic device because it seeks a more compelling story than its subject matter allows. America was deep in the throes of adding cereal to milk, and none of them were wiser. It just so happened that capitalism implored both companies to make a sugary treat that cut out some of the process and could be eaten on the go. Recently, there has been an onslaught of these company tales like the embellished underdog tale of ‘Flamin’ Hot,’ the eight-bit infused, somewhat action-oriented ‘Tetris,’ and the delightfully chronicled rise and fall of ‘Blackberry.’ Jerry Seinfeld is coming off the tail end of that and, as a result, doesn’t have a clear footing for what it wants to be. 

“Unfrosted” boasts a lot of comedic talent, ranging from Seinfeld himself, Melissa McCarthy, Hugh Grant, Bill Burr, Amy Schumer, and more—yet somehow makes the neverending carousel of cameos not feel memorable. Most of the actors involved are there to do their bit alongside the main characters, and off they go. With that, the film manages to try to incorporate many of the trademark culture references from the ’60s, such as NASA’s pursuit of going to the moon, former president JFK’s infidelities, and, yes, the cold war between the U.S. and Russia that boiled down to the trade of sugar. Somewhere in there is a story that tries to ground itself in reality somewhat to show us how this beloved treat got made. In 1963, the Kellogg higher-up Bob Cabana (played by Seinfeld) and his boss Edsel Kellogg III (Jim Gaffigan) are loving life being the number one cereal company in town. They clean up at the annual Bowl and Spoon Awards (think of a fictional Oscar award show for cereal companies), and things couldn’t be better.

Photo Credit: Netflix

That’s until the neighboring rival company Post, headed by Marjorie Post (Amy Schumer), stumbles upon (or steals) a potential formula for what eventually becomes a delicious pastry treat. Bob’s eureka moment comes at the moment of finding two random kids (Bailey Sheetz and Eleanor Sweeney) dumpster diving that just so happened to make this formula a thing. But Bob needs help because this is similar to a formula Kellogg discarded because they couldn’t quite get it to work. Thus, he tracks down an old buddy working at NASA, Donna Stankowski (McCarthy), and they team up in a race to see who will get their product to market first. “Unfrosted” paints Kellogg as the one to root for (they did win in the end). With Post, there’s a recurring motif of Schumer’s Marjorie berating her assistant Ludwin (Max Greenfield) until they make their next move. In all actuality, both companies are well aware of their nutritional profile and the oncoming of high-fructose corn syrup. But you must get the product into the kids’ hands at all costs. It’s hard to root for a company to win anyway, and it feels like “Unfrosted” is not aware of the irony of that platform at times. There’s a specific scene in which Bob and Edsel contemplate what will happen if Post gets their version of the Pop-Tart out first, where they shudder at the thought of paying $200 for college for their kids and not having a house with a lawn. Let’s ignore that they still have many powerhouse cereal brands to sell and need yet another win. 

UNFROSTED. (L to R) Jon Hamm as Ad Man #1, Jerry Seinfeld (Director) as Bob Cabana, and Jim Gaffigan as Edsel Kellogg III in Unfrosted. Cr. John P. Johnson / Netflix © 2024.

Adjacent to that is a subplot that involves the voice of Tony the Tiger Thurl Ravenscroft (Hugh Grant) and the prospects that with the onset of Pop-Tarts, mascots like himself and Snap, Crackle, and Pop (played by SNL’s Mikey Day, Kyle Mooney, and Drew Tarver) will become obsolete. “Unfrosted” manages to conflate labor contention with a reference to storming the Capitol—if you haven’t understood the whiplash this film goes through. Add an Avengers-like Kelloggs’ focus group from figures such as Steve Schwinn, Jack LaLanne, and Chef Boy Ardee, then a lot of ’60s product placement, and you get ‘Unfrosted.’ This film strives to entertain first and foremost and go over the actual story last—which it doesn’t do well with either.