Today’s post lies at the intersection of this blog’s main two interests: Gilmore Girls and me tasting weird food. The two topics converge, of course, at Pop Tarts.
Now before I get into this I should start by mentioning that Pop Tarts and I have a fraught relationship. If there were some way to analyze what foodstuffs contributed most to my own body mass I’m pretty sure it would come out to approximately 10% frosted brown sugar cinnamon pop tarts as they were a staple of my teenage and college diets. However, I am grown up now and know that I cannot buy Pop Tarts because they cost 8 WW points each (9 for the frosted brown sugar cinnamon!!). There are things that are good and there are things that are 8 Points Good and Pop Tarts are not 8 Points Good. Despite this universal truth, it is also guaranteed that if they are in the house, my wife and I WILL eat an entire box in about 20 minutes. In fact, in order to complete the tastings below I have figured out that I should leave the box of Pop Tarts in my car and bring them into the house ONE SLEEVE AT A TIME and dole them out ONE PER PERSON PER DAY and then it is OK. This is what I do for you guys. This is how dedicated I am to this blog that I haven’t updated in months.
Now, you may be asking, why are you even TRYING to taste Pop Tarts if they are so problematic for you and I will answer that question: YOU DON’T KNOW THE HALF OF IT, I haven’t even scratched the surface of my issues with Pop Tarts. Have you at any point in your childhood thought Pop Tarts would only be advertised as a suitable breakfast food if they were somehow fortified in some way with vitamins that would render them halfway healthy? Well I once did, and no they are not. And we all know that the sub-packaging out into two servings is just a savagely aggressive act of cold blooded nutritional sabotage. These things are little toaster monsters. Also, remember how bad Pop Tarts cereal was? But anyways, to briefly address your question, the other day on the old family Slack my sister asked me if I was still blogging about weird foods and suggested I try some strange new Pop Tart flavors such as Orange Crush:
and Jolly Rancher:
Oh, dear sister,
I politely informed her that yes, why sure, I would LOVE to try some weird Pop Tarts for my blog, if only I could find them. This actually started several years ago, back before I was even counting WW points when I could have eaten unlimited Pop Tarts without a care in the world, mind you. Back then they came out with Maple Bacon Pop Tarts:
I was like EFF.
I. AM. SO. EXCITED.
I NEED TO TRY THOSE POP TARTS
and then like so many things I’ve wanted to review for this blog, I looked for them everywhere and could not find them anywhere.
This is not an isolated incident. Here is a smattering of all of the weird Pop Tarts I would have snatched up in a second if I had only been able to find them:
Some of these look absolutely foul but I do not care, they are at least interesting.
In contrast, here are the kinds of “special” Pop Tarts I usually get to choose from:
Oh hey a blend of the three fruit Pop Tart flavors you’ve been eating since you were a kid wonder what this will taste like, super wild I bet!
This is hard to put this into words but there is a hyper-specific Massachusetts Experience of looking for something special, and instead finding something Dunkin branded in its place. It’s like a combination of disappointment and severe shame at having not anticipated something that was so inevitable. I felt it on the day that I peeked at the toaster pastry section and saw there was something new and they turned out to be these. There is a Dunkin Donuts on every corner we don’t need to Dunkin-ize non-Dunkin things. These might be good but I’m not trying them, ok? I give it about a 50% chance that these even taste like coffee b/c Dunkin coffee doesn’t even fully taste like coffee (b/c Dunkin’s coffee blend is cut with black tea).
Anyways, because my dear sister asked, this week I headed over to the Pop Tart aisle for the first time in forever and found some flavors that looked mildly interesting that I’ve decided to try for this blog:
Splitz Frosted Strawberry/Drizzled Cheesecake
Ok first only a fool would look at this box and expect that it would in any way be a positive experience. That being said, we are still not off to a good start with this one. Lets just say that these ones can be safely kept in the house no issue. Not only does this thing just look so miserable (they shorted me a strawberry squiggle!)…
…it has the Bad Crust. For those who are not Pop Tart connoisseurs, Pop Tarts can have one of three crusts: the Good Crust (nice white somewhat resembling pastry), the Bad Crust (my understanding based on the situations where this crust is deployed is that it is attempting to resemble graham crackers) and the Chocolate Crust (not my fave, but I accept that I have nontraditional views on many chocolate baked items). Making matters worse, they don’t explicitly tell you what kind of crust a given Pop Tart is going to have, and you have to go with a combination of the photo on the box and your well-honed toaster pastry instincts. TBH the pictures are not always helpful because different Pop Tarts may have the Good Crust cooked to varying levels of darkness. I just spent a while fully examining all the boxes of Pop Tarts in the supermarket, and the only clue I could find is that the ones I know to have Bad Crust appear to have molasses listed as an ingredient while others don’t. This is what you need to watch out for, people. Molasses. Its what ruins Pop Tart crusts. Anyways, the Bad Crust is what renders the ‘Smores Pop Tart the worst Pop Tart ever created and I will fight you on that one, SPT stans. Anyways, back to this one, half of this is just the old standby frosted strawberry Pop Tart you know and love, except it has a Bad Crust so now you hate it. There is the thinnest almost indiscernable layer of a white filling on the other side, with no cheesecake flavor to be found.
Even if there was cheesecake flavor, each of the filling halves is far too sparse to even contemplate countering the overwhelmingly dry flavorless cardboard crust. This is a truly terrible Pop Tart, plunging several levels below ‘Smores in the Pop Tart Circles of Hell.
Whew, Good Crust. This one is ok, and such a stark contrast to the other one I just tried – the filling is surprisingly gooey and drippy – it’s actually leaking out of the Pop Tart.
It is almost is giving me pink childhood medicine vibes, but I think I’m overthinking it. It does taste pretty good.
Chocolate chip cookie dough
This one’s ok. I don’t really like the taste of chocolate in heavily preservative-d foods (another issue I have with the Smores), but this was only subtle chocolate on the glaze that didn’t taste THAT unpleasant.
The filling was very much like bona fide cookie dough which I have to honestly say I was not expecting. The crust was a heavily browned version of The Good Crust – made me nervous for a sec but everything’s fine.
I bought this one partly because I was curious if it would be as gooey as the strawberry milkshake and partly to DRIVE HOME THE POINT THAT ONE OF THE ONLY SPECIAL EDITION FLAVORS I GET TO CHOOSE FROM IS LITERALLY A METAPHOR THAT PEOPLE FREQUENTLY USE TO DESCRIBE HOW BASIC AND BORING SOMETHING IS. It was not as gooey, and it was very basic and boring.
In conclusion I think that’s enough Pop Tarts for now. None of these were as good as the Frosted Brown Sugar Cinnamon, but will keep looking and wondering what does a girl have to do to get a Maple Bacon flavored Pop Tart around here?
I need you to know that there is a Fourth Crust, and I believe it exists only in the #1 Pop-Tart flavor of all time: Chocolate Chip.
IMHO all pop-tart crusts are Bad Crusts because they are too dry and I don’t like to have all the moisture sucked from my body just because I want to enjoy a toaster square. (Sidenote, this is also why I believe Cinnamon is the worst Pop-Tart flavor, despite eating hundreds as a child, because it has a Dry Crust + Dry Frosting + Dry FILLING dry-fecta). The crust on Chocolate Chip is moist-ish and cookie-like and thus supremely enjoyable in a way Pop-Tarts have never been.
Also, if you ever find yourself in the KCB at BU, please tell me if they still have a vending machine in which its only Pop-Tart offering is Chocolate Chip because that machine supplied my breakfast for at least a full semester Freshman year.