1964 — it was a very good year. Or so I’ve heard… technically I wouldn’t be born for another 16 years. But there’s something comforting in the idea that, as my parents sat up late, chiseling their homework by the light of whale oil lamps, they might have paused for a study break, pulled out a brand new box of Milk Chocolate Graham Pop-Tarts, and heated them over a nearby tar pit.
Or… not. You’d think that to celebrate your product’s 50th anniversary, you might indulge in nostalgia by re-issuing one (or all) of the original flavors, right? That’s what I assumed, anyway.
But no! In actuality, Pop-Tarts launched with four flavors: Blueberry, Strawberry, Brown Sugar Cinnamon, and Apple Currant. Since the first three are still in production today (an impressive .750 winning percentage… not too shabby, Kellogg’s), one can see why “bringing back” the original flavors wasn’t exactly feasible. Apparently if apple currant wasn’t able to entice baby boomers, it isn’t gonna do it for the children of millennials.
Okay, so if it wasn’t one of the launch flavors, where does Milk Chocolate Graham fit in? The answer is that it’s a discontinued flavor from… some point in Pop-Tarts’ history. I’m not really sure from when — basic Googling has failed me, so if anyone knows, light up that comments section! Ultimately though, it doesn’t really matter when it vanished, whether it was the ’70s or last year. What’s cool is that we have it now, and can judge for ourselves whether it was a mistake to let this flavor fall by the wayside.
The box is extremely busy, with multicolored balls all over and on the back, a cutout of a Pop-Tart with eyes and limbs. You’re helpfully advised to cut him out and photobomb your friends’ pictures, then share them online, which I predict will be done by ones of people all over the box designer’s house. Luckily I don’t mind suffering for you, lovely readers, so you can see his smiling face in one of the photos in this review. Try to figure out which one’s the real Pop-Tart!
The appearance of the tart is interesting — it’s not the relatively smooth surface I’m used to seeing on most unfrosted Pop-Tarts, with the tiny, perfectly spaced venting holes. There ARE holes, but they seem to be randomly dropped all over the place, and the texture is craggy and uneven, like a miniature desert terrain or a teenager’s face. (That wasn’t just me, right? Guys?) Cut one open and you can see a decent amount of chocolate filling — nothing that’ll knock your socks off, but it’s not indiscernible without an electron microscope either.
Fine, but how does it taste? Well… if your immediate thought on hearing “graham” and “chocolate” was “Hey, sounds like 2/3rds of a s’more!”, you aren’t alone. And the thing about a s’more is, if any one component is missing, it just isn’t as good. Why do I bring that up? Because they have S’more Pop-Tarts, and the fact that those are still around and going strong gives us a pretty big clue as to why Chocolate Graham Pop-Tarts, well, aren’t.
To wit, they taste fine. The graham taste is okay, maybe a bit understated but certainly there if you’re tasting for it. The chocolate is reasonably rich, and if it won’t have you checking the label to see if they’re using Lindt, at least it’s sweet enough without making your teeth hurt. They’re about as flaky as most Pop-Tarts, if texture is your thing.
But… well, you don’t realize how much you need that marshmallow until it isn’t there anymore. And the icing on S’mores Pop-Tarts makes a ton of difference, because these taste quite a bit drier than the S’mores variety ever did. They’re not going to cut the roof of your mouth or anything, but plan on having a beverage nearby for sure.
In the final analysis, it’s nice that they brought these back, and I do appreciate the effort. Nostalgia is fun when used sparingly, and every institution deserves to indulge in a little fun upon reaching a milestone. That said, we learn from the mistakes of the past, and it seems to me that Kellogg’s clearly built on and improved this flavor when they created the S’mores variety. Maybe pick up a box of these if you’re a nostalgia buff like I am, but if you’re simply looking for a tasty breakfast pastry, just buy the S’mores.
(Nutrition Facts – 1 toaster pastry – 200 calories, 50 calories from fat, 5 grams of total 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, 250 milligrams of sodium, 34 grams of total carbohydrates, 1 gram of dietary fiber, 26 grams of sugar, and 3 grams of protein.)
Item: Kellogg’s Birthday Edition Flavor Flashback Milk Chocolate Graham Pop-Tarts
Purchased Price: $2.79
Size: 8 toaster pastries
Purchased at: Acme
Rating: 6 out of 10
Pros: Intergenerational connection through breakfast pastries. 3 out of 4 launch products still being around half a century later is pretty impressive. Reasonable amount of chocolate. Decent graham flavor. S’mores: proof of intelligent design, or unguided evolution?
Cons: Natural selection already marked this Pop-Tart for extinction. Not being able to figure out when one out of the scores of varieties of a breakfast snack stopped being produced = thanks, Internet. Kind of like a cake with filling, but no frosting. Everyone hates the guy who forgets to bring marshmallows to the camping trip. Don’t be that guy.