Writer of Seinfeld's Pop-Tarts Movie Talks Jan. 6, Mad Men

[This story includes spoilers for the Netflix movie Unfrosted.]

The buzz around Unfrosted is heating up, with Jerry Seinfeld‘s heavily fictionalized Pop-Tart origin story now streaming on Netflix.

Seinfeld, who stars in the comedy movie that marks his feature directorial debut, also co-wrote the project’s screenplay. Contributing to the script was Spike Feresten, who worked with Seinfeld on the legendary NBC sitcom Seinfeld, with Feresten having penned one of the show’s most beloved and quotable episodes, “The Soup Nazi.”

During a conversation with The Hollywood Reporter, Feresten discussed some of the most memorable moments for the film that is set in 1963. This includes a plot point involving the Kellogg’s cereal mascots boycotting the company out of concern that the Pop-Tart will make them irrelevant, which leads to a sequence in which the mascots storm the company’s offices à la the attack on the U.S. Capitol Building on Jan. 6, 2021.

Feresten explained that the sequence felt like the right fit due to a variety of factors. He noted that Thurl Ravenscroft, the actor who originally voiced Tony the Tiger and is played in the film by Hugh Grant, came close to striking in real life due to feeling that he was underpaid.

Spike Feresten, Jerry Seinfeld, Beau Bauman and Kerry Lyn McKissick on the Unfrosted set.

Courtesy of Netflix

“While we were writing it, there was an actual strike at Kellogg’s going on,” Feresten says. “And then, of course, there was the insurrection, and we thought, ‘Why don’t we have our own mascot insurrection?’ But really, what it was about was costumed creatures doing violent things. We thought that would be a funny image set of images. We didn’t really think the insurrection was funny, but we thought, ‘If we can pull off violent moves with mascots, that could be a funny situation.’”

According to Feresten, the primary impetus for the sequence was to help push the story forward. “It was never, ‘We want to do a Jan. 6 thing,’” he continues. “When you’re building a story, you’re just putting piece on top of piece. And that story led us there, and we thought, ‘If we do this quickly and we make it funny, maybe the audience will enjoy it.’ And that was really the goal of everything in the movie: instructing jokes and scenes that’ll brighten people’s day, even when it may reflect something that was ugly.”

Another memorable moment involves Mad Men alums Jon Hamm and John Slattery appearing as their characters from the Emmy-winning AMC series as they attempt to pitch Kellogg’s on a salacious Pop-Tarts advertising campaign. Feresten recalls that Seinfeld was rewatching Mad Men during the pandemic as the Unfrosted team was working on the script, and that the writers would watch episodes over lunch.

Melissa McCarthy, Jerry Seinfeld and Jim Gaffigan in Unfrosted.

Netflix / Courtesy Everett Collection

“There was this great scene with Jon Hamm pitching a lipstick manufacturer, and he’s so mean to him,” Feresten says. “And Jerry said, ‘I don’t get it. They’re just writing ads. Why are they being so mean?’ Then someone said, ‘It’s ’63. In theory, these guys could come pitch Kellogg’s the Pop-Tart.’ And we went, ‘Oh, my God, can we do that? Is that too meta — a fictional movie, but a real TV series?’”

Feresten explains that everyone was quickly supportive about revisiting the drama series. “We wrote the scene, and then we fell in love with the scene, and then it had to happen,” he says. “Hamm and Slattery were on board right from the very beginning. That scene still gives me chills when I watch it because for Jerry, if you had asked him if there were any drama he’d ever want to be in, he would go, ‘It would be Mad Men.’ Some of the furniture in the scene is from Mad Men. That’s really Jerry living out one of his fantasies.”

Additionally, Feresten praises Netflix for supporting the creative team throughout the process, given that the writers hadn’t gotten permission from any of the brands that they included in their script. “This wasn’t Barbie,” he quips. “We didn’t have Mattel on board. We’d kind of written this secretly during the pandemic, never expecting to make it. So we hired a clearance lawyer, Michael Donaldson, and he said, ‘No one has an expectation of truth from Jerry Seinfeld. They have an expectation of humor, so go ahead and do it. A lot of the folks you’re talking about are dead. We have a saying in clearance: the deader, the better. You don’t have to ask the permission to Walter Cronkite.’”

Feresten adds, “Here we are. And then Netflix said, ‘Don’t worry about it.’”

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