The element of surprise can be a valuable tool. As the Japanese poet BashÅ famously observed, “When you surprise your enemy, you fuck his shit up.” [Translated] That’s true both on the battlefield and in the kitchen. I’ve eaten and reviewed plenty of foods that have surprised me, some pleasantly, some less so. One of the draws of foreign food, as related to me by people who try it, is the chance to encounter new tastes you’ve never experienced before and weren’t expecting.
But as God is my witness, Pop-Tarts are not such a food. No one buys Pop-Tarts for the mystery factor. You purchase them because you know exactly what you’re getting: a flaky pastry, probably frosting on top, and filled with whatever flavor you selected, be it S’Mores or Raspberry Milkshake or Soylent Green. If I got a Pop-Tart that didn’t taste like what it was named, I would only eat the entire box in three days under extreme protest, I promise you that. So when I learned Kellogg’s was releasing another limited edition holiday variety of Pop-Tarts, this one flavored like sugar cookies, my only thought was: they’d damn well better taste like sugar cookies. Well, as it turns out:
…..yeah, basically they taste like sugar cookies. Phew.
While no living human has eaten as many Pop-Tarts varieties as The Impulsive Buy’s editor-in-chief, I have been around the block a few times myself, and these are among the better-tasting Pop-Tarts I’ve tried. They don’t taste exactly like real sugar cookies, which obviously don’t have vaguely marshmallow-y filling inside them like these do, and the texture is a bit different from crumbly sugar cookies. You wouldn’t mistake them for cookies in a blind taste test is what I’m saying, but you’d still probably ask for another bite. The sweetness lingers in your mouth afterward and might be too much for those without a sweet tooth, though I doubt the sugar-averse are picking up a package of these anyway. And as simple as sugar cookies are, I’m glad Kellogg’s didn’t try making them Sugar Cookie Ice Cream Cone (With Rainbow Sprinkles and Hot Fudge) Pop-Tarts, which would’ve ruined it. For once they wisely showed some restraint.
Not a lot, mind you. I’m guessing someone’s train of thought was that if the pastry itself was going to be straightforward, they’d better jazz it up in other respects. Said jazzing occurs two ways, the first of which is the wrappers. As you probably know, they come in packs of two inside shiny foil wrappers.
What I’ve never seen before is little word balloons with slogans extolling the virtues of the product contained therein, and yet there they were. I’m guessing they’re randomly generated, since one of my wrappers sported the phrase “We look good in silver,” and immediately below it, “Silver is your color.” Some are almost slightly funny, most just annoying. I kept looking for one promising good things were right around the corner, but no dice.
But trite-ass slogans don’t sell Pop-Tarts, as my grandmother used to say — the main draw, other than the taste, is the “printed fun” promised in the name. See, each pastry hosts a scene of a smiling creature frolicking in winter, be it kittens skiing or a penguin flipping you the bird (I assume… it’s hard to tell without fingers), or most bizarrely, a snowman bobsled team sporting two of Jamaica’s three national colors, suggesting someone at Kellogg’s has a sly sense of humor and a fondness for Cool Runnings.
The polar bear is skating rather than enjoying a cool, refreshing Coca-Cola, missing out on a golden opportunity for cross-promotion if you ask me, but then food blogging’s gain was the marketing world’s loss, obviously. Anyway, they’re… well, they’re cute. It’s not like kids needed an extra incentive to eat warm rectangles of sugar and fat, but they fit the holiday theme and allow you the chance to bite a seal’s head off without going to jail, so there’s that.
I unapologetically kind of dig these. I should probably be annoyed by the excessive cuteness of the printed images, far more saccharine than anything contained within the pastry itself. But… well, it’s the holiday season. If there’s ever a time to refrain from mocking overly sentimental things, minus the last five paragraphs, this is probably it. They taste good and pretty similar to actual sugar cookies, the printed images will appeal to their intended audience of children and me, and they can be used as a last-minute gift in a pinch, if it turns out your girlfriend doesn€™t find the “Dick in a Box” skit as hilarious as you do. Overall, as shameless holiday tie-ins go, they’re definitely among the better ones.
(Nutritional Info – 1 pastry – 200 calories, 50 calories from fat, 5 grams of fat, 2 grams of saturated fat, 0 grams of trans fat, 2 grams of polyunsaturated fat, 1 gram of monounsaturated fat, 0 milligrams of cholesterol, 200 milligrams of sodium, 35 grams of carbohydrates, less than 1 gram of fiber, 14 grams of sugar, and 2 grams of protein)
Item: Kellogg’s Limited Edition Printed Fun Frosted Sugar Cookie Pop-Tarts
Size: 21.2 oz/12 toaster pastries
Purchased at: Acme
Rating: 7 out of 10
Pros: (Mostly) taste like sugar cookies. Delicious filling. Abundant frosting. Affordable price. Cute animal images. Keeping it simple. Some of the foil word balloons.
Cons: The element of surprise in Pop-Tarts. Atsa lotta sugar! Missed marketing opportunities. Overly cutesy. Most of the foil word balloons.