Is Bob Cabana Inspired by a Real Kellogg’s Employee? How Did He Die?

Netflix’s comedy film ‘Unfrosted’ revolves around Bob Cabana’s efforts to make a breakfast cereal to win Kellogg’s “cereal war” against Post. When the latter announces a revolutionary new product, Edsel Kellogg III turns to Cabana to ensure the survival of his company, only for the head of product development to introduce the legendary “Pop-Tarts.” Even today, Pop-Tarts is a renowned breakfast product across the country. However, the mastermind behind the toaster pastry is not Cabana, who is a largely fictional character. Jerry Seinfeld’s charming Kellogg’s employee is based on a cookie company plant manager who helped Kellogg’s establish their supremacy in the cereal industry!

William “Bill” Post: The Creator of Pop-Tarts

Bob Cabana is a fictionalized version of William “Bill” Post, the real creator of Pop-Tarts. Jerry Seinfeld and his team of writers originally wrote ‘Unfrosted’ with Post as the protagonist. However, since he shares his name with his rival company, the group decided to change the same. “We did have the character named Bill Post in a couple of drafts, and we liked the idea that Edsel Kellogg would be suspicious of someone named Post,” Spike Feresten, the film’s co-writer and co-producer, told Eater. “But when we realized the movie was only going to be about 90 minutes, we thought that might be too much of a wrinkle, and it might confuse the audience,” he added.

Image Credit: Kellanova/YouTube

The rivalry between Kellogg’s and Post intensified when the latter started to develop Country Squares, putting them way ahead of their rival in the cereal war between them. To compete against Post, Kellogg’s reached out to Bill, who was working for the Hekman Biscuit Company as the manager of the Grand Rapids plant. “They [Kellogg’s executives] came and looked at our plant… They said they wanted something for the toaster but they didn’t know how to do it,” Post told WWMT about the birth of his collaboration with the company. In the film, Post conceived Country Squares by stealing Cabana’s research work, which never happened in reality. Bill was also not a long-time employee of Kellogg’s as the film movie depicts in the case of Cabana.

Pop-Tarts is the result of Bill’s immense hard work. With his team, he made around 10,000 samples by hand to perfect his creation. “To get that done, I had to break every rule in the book,” Bill told NPR. Like Cabana, Bill also didn’t have a lot of time to create the pastry. Bill had to conceive the pastry in two weeks and for feedback, he took the samples to his children. “The first [samples] – I have to tell you – were not great. So, we would kind of pull up our noses. And he’d say, well, what do you think we should do differently? And we’d say, well, more filling or the crust is, like, too hard. And so, within two weeks, it was a really good product. I mean, we really liked it,” Bill’s son, Dan Post, told NPR.

Bill did not have Cathy and Butchie to inspire him to make Pop-Tarts. Still, he was able to lead the pastry to market shelves in strawberry, blueberry, brown sugar cinnamon, and apple currant flavors in 1964. Seinfeld and his writers didn’t want to make an ordinary biographical account of Bill and Pop-Tarts. “We never thought the true origin story of the Pop-Tart was so interesting that it deserved a movie. […] Comedy was always the motivator. We’re not the guys to make an origin movie,” Feresten added to Eater about the creation of the fictional Cabana.

William “Bill” Post Passed Away Due to Heart Failure

William “Bill” Post died on February 10, 2024, at the age of 96 in a senior living community in Grand Rapids, Michigan, due to heart failure. He is survived by Dan, daughter Rachel DeYoung, four grandchildren, and 10 great-grandchildren. After the Pop-Tarts revolution, Bill relocated to Illinois in 1967 as the senior vice president of Keebler. He retired at the age of 56 but he didn’t put an end to his collaboration with Kellogg’s until he was 76. By then, Kellogg’s had become the owner of Keebler. He contributed to the development of products such as Nutri-Grain bars, Rice Krispies Treats, etc.

Image Credit: Kellanova/YouTube

During his twilight years, Bill was a major part of his community in Grand Rapids. He spent seventy-two years of his life in marriage to Florence Schut, his high-school sweetheart, who died in 2020. Even though Bill was not officially credited as the creator of Pop-Tarts by Kellogg’s, the cereal company acknowledged his invaluable contribution through a statement shared after his demise. “We are deeply saddened to share the news that William ‘Bill’ Post passed away over the weekend,” Pop-Tarts owner Kellanova shared. “He played an important role in co-creating the iconic Pop-Tarts brand and we are grateful to Bill for his legacy and lasting contributions to our company,” the company added.

Bill’s legacy remains through Pop-Tarts, which makes $1 billion in annual sales for Kellanova, the company that produces seven million toaster pastries a day after its split from Kellogg’s.

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