Growing up we feasted on sugarcoated food that would make nutritionists cringe from the time we woke up to the time we went to bed. Here’s a sample of our daily menu:
Breakfast — A bowl of Cocoa Krispies, Cocoa Puffs or Lucky Charms
Morning Recess Snack — Kit Kat or $100,000 Bar
Lunch — Tuna or Bologna sandwich (Nancy)/Mustard Sandwich * (Amy) and a Yodel or Devil Dog
* Yes, this simple culinary delight was made with French’s yellow mustard on a bulkie roll and was consumed for lunch every day for eight years of Catholic school except for the week when our parents went to Europe and our grandmother insisted on complicating the classic mustard sandwich with a slice of bologna — but that’s another story for another time.
After School Snack — A bowl of Cocoa Krispies, Cocoa Puffs or Lucky Charms
Dinner — The main course was usually accompanied by some vegetable cooked in butter and brown sugar and a bag of M&Ms for dessert
The daily routine was often enhanced with trips to fast food staples McDonald’s, Kentucky Fried Chicken and Papa Gino’s Pizza. And there was a glorious summer when our sister drove an ice cream truck and two or three frosty treats per day got added to our menu. It was a magnificently decadent childhood culinarily speaking but needless to say we were on a constant roller coaster ride of sugar highs and lows.
Yet there were three grocery store goodies that our mother never let us get — Jiffy Pop Popcorn, Chef Boyardee Ravioli and Pop-Tarts. Knowing how clumsy we were, Betty probably was afraid we’d take an eye out with the wondrously expanding Jiffy Pop stovetop popper. Being Italian, Chef Boyardee was a sacrilege to a woman who made the best spaghetti sauce we’ve ever tasted in our lives. But her unwillingness to indulge our Pop Tarts cravings still confounds us.
Pop-Tarts had all the elements of a snack that our mother of five should have embraced. Most importantly, they could be cooked by just slipping them in a toaster and served on a napkin, cutting down both oven and cleaning times.
Now that we’re adults, we can pick up anything at the market that we desire. Of course, we’ve nibbled on Pop-Tarts over the years. But we recently decided it was time to sit down and catch up on all those childhood moments that we missed. We picked ten Pop-Tarts flavors and did a taste test to find our favorite. We’ll share our individual findings below but first we wanted to point out a couple of things.
As tempting as it might be to munch on a cold Tart (especially if you’re hungry or in a rush), take a minute to toast them. The crusts get a little bit softer and the frosting's a lot gooier.
The thing that surprised us most was just how much variety there really is among the different toaster pastry flavors. We always think of them as a basic piecrust rectangle filled with some kind of super sugary filling. This might be something our mother put in our heads to try to keep us from tugging on her sleeve in the breakfast aisle to avoid our begging. But when you put Pop-Tarts flavors side-by-side it’s amazing how you can tell a cakey crust from a cinnamon bunnish crust from a graham cracker crust. Trust us, it’s worth the comparison if you’re looking for a good glucose fix.
And, now here are the 10 Pop Tart flavors rated from least favorite to most favorite:
10. Brown Sugar Cinnamon — While we did find that each Pop-Tart was delicious in its own right, this one did the least for us. That can probably be chalked up to the fact that we’re chocolate girls through and through. That said, if you’re looking for classic flavor, this is sure to please.
9. Hot Fudge Sundae — Expectations are going to be set really high when you call something a hot fudge sundae. We expect a creamy vanilla center with flowing fudge filling in a sugar cone like crust. That’s a tall order to fill and not what the creators of this rendition of a Hot Fudge Sundae Pop-Tarts had in mind. They do get points for throwing festive rainbow sprinkles on top.
8. Chocolate Chip Cookie Dough — The concept of this flavor is pretty ingenious — put a cookie dough filling in a Pop-Tarts crust. So, in case you can’t wrap your head around that, it’s like eating a cookie wrapped in a pie.
7. Chocolate Chip — This is one of the only Pop-Tarts that we might recommend eating cold because when you do, the teeny tiny chips, pop in your mouth.
6. Chocolatey Caramel — Chocolate + caramel = deliciousness. Our only complaint is that it just wasn’t oozing enough golden sugary goodness.
5. Cinnamon Roll — We ate this back to back with the Brown Sugar Cinnamon Pop-Tarts and thought, “Sounds like they’re going to be the exact same thing.” Never underestimate the brilliance of the team at Kellogg’s. The crust is sweeter and fluffier like a real cinnamon bun and you almost feel like you just cracked open a tube of Poppin’ Fresh rolls.
4. Red Velvet — Honestly, we think that Red Velvet is an overrated cake. It’s just a chocolate cake with less cocoa powder than a cake deserves to have. But in terms of translating the concept into the Tart, this nosh delivers. The crust is just like a sliver of red velvet cake and the cream cheese frosting is exactly what you’d expect from this throwback favorite.
3. Chocolate Fudge — These old school Tarts have our three favorite ingredients — a chocolate crust, chocolate frosting and chocolate filling. They’re a slam-dunk.
2. Chocolate Peanut Butter — Part of the Pop-Tarts “Gone Nutty!” line these treats are so special they’re wrapped in gold instead of silver and only come six to a box instead of eight. We’ve got to say we understand why these puppies are special. And, really is there a better flavor combination that chocolate and peanut butter…
1. S’mores — It turns out, yes, there is one better flavor combination than chocolate and peanut butter… S’MORES! These toaster pastries have a secret weapon that set them a part from their counterparts — a graham cracker crust. The chocolate and marshmallow don’t hurt either. Now that we know there are S’mores Pop-Tarts, we just might skip the bonfire this summer and go straight to the box.