Mornings always seem to go one of two ways; wonderful or hell on earth. While not everyone can be considered a morning person, I guarantee that we have all thought about a freshly toasted Pop-Tart the second we wake up.

From a quick breakfast meal to a vending machine snack, the Pop-Tart has become quite the staple in American cuisine. With around 30 different flavors, Pop-Tart's diversity has been one of the key characteristics of this breakfast based company. You may be wondering, what type of ingredients go into these tasty pastries, and how are they made? 

A Pop-Tart's nutritional label has nearly 40 listed ingredients, some a little more interesting than others. Today, I'm giving you a breakdown of the top 3 ingredients within Kellogg's Pop-Tarts so that we can see just how unhealthy they really are.  

1. Caramel Color

sweet, pastry, cake
Bethany Garcia

Considered a food coloring, caramel color is used among a variety of products across supermarkets. Used primarily to enhance the appearance of foods, this additive is categorized as GRAS (generally recognized as safe) by the U.S Food and Drug Administration.

According to The Truth About Caramel Color, the heavy controversy surrounding it's use, stems from a study conducted in 2007 that force-fed mice and rats 4-mel (a by-product produced from caramel color). The amount of 4-mel the animals consumed was equivalent to a human being consuming over a thousand cans of soda every day for 2 years.

After the 2 year study was completed, the mice developed cancerous tumors, while the rats were relatively unharmed. The results of this case stirred heavy criticism against the use of caramel color, and some people to this day still consider it unsafe.  

Many have commonly asked if the use of caramel color in foods can just be removed. While this concept is entirely possible, many foods and sodas we have on a daily basis will lack significant flavor, and most likely take on a more grey appearance. Grey Pop-Tarts? Interesting...

2. High Fructose Corn Syrup (HFCS)

cake, sweetmeat, cream, goody, milk, sweet, chocolate, candy
Bethany Garcia

With the recent push for healthy and organic lifestyles, ingredients such as high fructose corn syrup have developed a bad reputation. Some doctors and medical professionals have outwardly spoken against consuming any food containing HFCS.  

Citing the negative and possibly harmful chemicals contained within, many companies have even sought to advertise the exclusion of this ingredient within their products.  

High fructose corn syrup can be classified as a sweeter derived from corn. Sharing an extremely similar composition to regular table sugar (sucrose), this additive has been popularly linked to obesity within America.  

While it has been proven that HFCS is not uniquely obesity-promoting, proponents of the argument believe that it contains addictive qualities, which eventually will lead to overconsumption and weight gain. 

3. Xantham Gum

butter, cake, cookie, cream, chocolate
Bethany Garcia

Nope, this doesn't come in different flavors like Wintergreen and Spearmint. Xantham gum is a major additive that can be found not only in Pop-Tarts, but in cosmetic products and industrial cleaners as well.

This additive is produced by fermenting corn sugar with bacteria. Xantham gum is also used as both a thickener and emulsifier ( a substance used to help blend ingredients together).

While there have been a few health concerns brought into question, it has generally been regarded as safe (as long as you only consume up to 15 grams per day).

According to Dr. Josh Axe, Xantham gum can be problematic if you suffer from any digestion issues. Studies have found that this additive can serve as a pretty efficient laxative. Yikes! 

#SpoonTip: Ingredients listed at the top of a nutrition label are in order from greatest to least in terms of weight. So next time you read a food label, you will know that the ingredient you see first weighs the heaviest. 

spam, coffee
Bethany Garcia

Who knew a Pop-Tart shared similar ingredients with cosmetic products and laxatives. The thought of chemicals inside our favorite foods seems scary, but by grasping a better understanding of the additives themselves, we can find a little comfort. Take a look at an ingredients list once in a while; you may be surprised just how common these truly are.