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10/20/2010

The Great Pop-Tart Pop Off

As I type this, I’m eating a Hot Fudge Sundae-flavored Pop-Tart. Raw.

Didn’t know that flavor existed, huh? Me neither. Admittedly, this snack is randomo under normal circumstances. But these aren’t normal circumstances because I recently purchased 19 different varieties of these sugary breakfast treats.

Yep, you read that right.

I bought 19 boxes of Pop-Tarts from about 5 different stores. I would have bought 20, if I could have found the last one I was looking for (Apple Strudel, you are an elusive and mysterious flavor).

You’re probably asking yourself, why would someone embark on a Pop-Tart quest? Particularly someone who’s not 10 years old. Who doesn’t have kids. Or a particular affinity for breakfast. Or, for that matter, sweet snacks.

The answer is I have too much time on my hands. Simple as that.

So I headed up to Fairfield, CT with nothing but a bag of uncooked toaster pastries and a dream, and asked (begged?) my favorite taste testers to help me crown the Top of the Tarts.

Unlike our M&M challenge, it seemed impossible to evaluate each of these flavors on their own and rank them. There were just too many. So in the true spirit of competition, we assembled a March Madness-style bracket on the dining room table and laid out the Sweet 19.

Each of us went into it with a very clear favorite – the ladies for Strawberry, the guy for Cherry. (Full disclosure: my all-time fave is Strawberry Frosted followed closely by S’mores – these are the only 2 flavors I’d ever tried prior to this and to this day, I’ve NEVER eaten a toasted Tart).

There were a few rules: 1) skip all the product line extensions like 20% fiber and no frosting -- no sense eating a healthy, naked Tart, 2) similar flavors had to play eachother at the outset of the game to establish flavor family dominance, and 3) we had to cut the crusts off so we could taste the true fillings without too much cardboardy coating.

Now, if you simply can’t bear to read my play-by-play on Pop-Tarts, I understand. Just skip to the bottom and see who wins. I won’t judge you (yes I will).

For everyone else… let the Pop Off begin!

ROUND 1:
  • Blueberry Muffin vs Blueberry vs Wild Grape: Plain Blubes is the first W on the board by virtue of it being “least offensive” and because it’s “blue inside" unlike "albino Blueberry Muffin” and it’s not “disgusting” like Grape.
  • Cinnamon Roll vs Brown Sugar Cinnamon: Roll, with its “fancy icing,” wins because Brown Sugar’s icing “looks a lot like skin.”
  • Cherry vs Strawberry: The biggest upset of the night, Cherry could only win “if there was no Strawberry in the house,” according to 2 of the 3 judges. Chalk up one for the ‘Berry.
  • Chocolate Chip vs Chocolate Fudge: Even though Chip had “lame icing,” Fudge’s flavor was “not fudgy at all.” Chip was the obvious choice for anyone who "likes their chocolate to taste like chocolate.”
  • Hot Fudge Sundae vs Ice Cream Sandwich: Both of these ice cream spin-offs were “pretty bland,” but in the end “vaguely marshmellowy” Sundae won out over “makes me sad” Sandwich.
  • Wild Berry vs Raspberry: There was no way “funky smelling” Wild Berry could topple Raspberry. “Oh yeah,” it was unanimous on this one.
  • Strawberry Milkshake vs Vanilla Milkshake vs Orange Creamsicle: In this “creamy showdown,” the now discontinued “different” Orange Creamsicle rose to the top because Strawberry gave us “a sweets headache” and Vanilla had a “horrible icing job.”
  • Chocolate Chip Cookie Dough vs Cookies & Cream vs S’mores: You have to admire the "artful striped filling” of the “delicious” S’mores, which edged out “dry like sawdust” Cookie Dough and Cookies & Cream, which “took too long to get to the taste.”
ROUND 2:
  • Blueberry vs Cinnamon Roll: BBerry got lucky because Roll “was never really very good in the first place,” but we were all pretty certain “nobody can eat a whole Blueberry, let alone 2.”
  • Strawberry vs Chocolate Chip: A tough one since Chip was “kinda nice,” but in the end, the “Strawberry Mafia” muscled out a victory.
  • Hot Fudge Sundae vs Raspberry: Another unanimous vote for Raspberry, because Sundae “kinda sucked.”
  • Orange Creamsicle vs S’mores: Having a “campfire in your toaster” seemed more appealing than “melted” ice cream with an “orange-ish” taste. Chalk another up for your buddy, S’mores.
ROUND 3:
  • Strawberry vs. Blueberry: This one was really “no contest” but someone cast a “spite vote” for Blueberry. Strawberry still got 2 “jammy thumbs up.”
  • Raspberry vs S’mores: This loss was “painful” for S’mores because Raspberry “cheated.”
ROUND 4:
WINNER: Strawberry*
(*under protest – my brother thinks his wife and I rigged it for Strawberry – I cannot confirm or deny this ugly rumor)

Yes, it’s a boring outcome, but the bottom line is most of these new flavors are either gross or tasteless. Tried and true is the way to go. Strawberry is #1 in America (and in my heart) for a reason!

It just tastes good.

But if the Pop-Tart elves are ever looking for new flavors to ruin, we’d like to toss a few into the ring: Strawberry Cheesecake, Lemon Meringue, Boston Cream Pie, Peanut Butter and Jelly (only strawberry, grape is gross), Chocolate Peanut Butter, and Chocolate Mint (make sure it's green inside). Produce those, Kelloggs, and we’ll schedule a rematch.

That is, if Cherry doesn’t still hold a grudge for being eliminated in Round 1.

So did we get it right? What’s YOUR favorite flavor? Do you like ‘em raw or toasted? And please don’t tell me you’ve never tasted a Tart, because I will be forced to point at you and chant, “Liar, liar pants on fire!”

Hmmm. Maybe I am 10 years old, after all…


tags: food

5 comments:

Anonymous said...

How could you not like Brown Sugar Cinnamon? A classic!

But I agree, Strawberry is probalby the best.

Anonymous said...

I agree with your brother. Cherry all the way :)

Anonymous said...

I love these taste tests. Do you take requests?

Anonymous said...

Poptarts give me the poops.

Jenny From The 'Brook said...

Anon #1: Brown Sugar Cinnamon is nasty.

Anon #2: Cherry is ok. But it's no Strawberry.

Anon #3: Yes, sure! Any suggestions? I was thinking maybe Pringles next.

Anon #4: Thanks for sharing.