REVIEW: Kellogg’s Pop-Tarts Gone Nutty Frosted PB & J Strawberry

Kellogg's Pop-Tarts Gone Nutty Frosted PB & J Strawberry

It started out so innocently. Because doesn’t it always?

I want something simple, but get carried away. A search for a song and I buy the album. A hankering for a show leads to the no-sleep Netflix dive. A pondering of a Christmas party and suddenly I’m considering the 3-foot inflatable snowman and $549 deluxe Santa Suit. Who needs this? (Nobody)

And yet…

I NEED THIS!

So I shouldn’t have been surprised with my reaction to these Pop-Tarts. It’s only a box. A box of six tarts. Simple. Easy.

But then I peeled back the lid. And that’s where it all began.

Kellogg's Pop-Tarts Gone Nutty Frosted PB & J Strawberry PBJ goo insides

The crust on these tarts is the pinnacle of Pop-Tarts: a crackly crumble with a slight sandy grit, the sugary peanut butter icing crackles underneath. The peanut butter insides are sweet with a hint of salt while the strawberry jelly serves as a sweet/tart counterpoint. While this inner layer’s a bit on the thin side, it all comes together with the crust to showcase a balance of icing, sugar, salt, crust, crunch, and goo. Three bites in and I felt better about my broken heater, the work I had left, and the universe at large.

But it didn’t stop there.

The opportunities for Pop-Tart creations now became a new avenue through which I could channel obsessive creativity. I was thinking of the Pop-Tarts at the Post Office, contemplating how to get the best ratio of inner goo-to-crust while standing in line at the grocery, and getting wound up about the setting of my toaster in places that did not offer the appliance I needed.

“No more!” I told myself. But it didn’t work (never does). Like the kinky pop song that gets stuck in one’s head, the only way to quell absurd, delightful obsessions is to pursue them without restraint. I knew what I had to do.

Kellogg's Pop-Tarts Gone Nutty Frosted PB & J Strawberry I ate all the PBJs

If I were a different, better person, I would tell you that I shared the rest of the Pop-Tarts with my office mates, how we parceled them between the three of us, toasted them in our toaster oven, and consumed them with generic Kirkland’s coffee, savoring their salty-sweetness.

But I didn’t share.

I ate them all. And I would do it again. Santa will, no doubt, be tempted to slip me onto the naughty list, but just wait till he sees his cookie plate. He’ll change his mind.

Kellogg's Pop-Tarts Gone Nutty Frosted PB & J Strawberry PBJ Santa's cookie plate

(Nutrition Facts – 1 Pastry – 190 calories, 40 calories from fat, 4.5 grams of fat, 2 grams of saturated fat, 0 grams of trans fat, 0 milligrams of cholesterol, 220 milligrams of sodium, 37 grams of carbohydrates, Less than 1 gram of dietary fiber, 17 grams of sugar, and 2 grams of protein.)

Item: Kellogg’s Pop-Tarts Gone Nutty Frosted PB & J Strawberry
Purchased Price: $1.98
Size: 6 toaster pastries/box
Purchased at: Walmart
Rating: 9 out of 10
Pros: Crackly crust. Salty-sweet. Goo. Icing with sprinkles. Excels both toasted and untoasted. Makes you feel good about the Universe. Good vehicle for convincing Santa you’ve been Nice via Cookie Plate.
Cons: Insides are a bit thin. Tempts you to not share. Kinky pop songs. $549 Santa suits.

REVIEW: Kellogg’s Limited Edition Frosted Chocomallow Sundae Pop-Tarts

Kellogg’s Limited Edition Frosted Chocomallow Sundae Pop-Tarts

Ah, now this is a bit more like it!

I was disappointed in my last exposure to one of Kellogg’s 50th anniversary Pop-Tarts flavors, the Milk Chocolate Graham variety. Without forcing you to go back and reread that hackery, my dismay mainly stemmed from it tasting dry due to the absence of frosting; plus feeling like something was lacking due to graham + chocolate but no marshmallow.

But then, that was a Flavor Flashback — this is not. The goal isn’t to revisit an old flavor that succumbed to grocery store natural selection, but to turbocharge a new product with 50th anniversary mojo. How powerful is that mojo? I’m not going to give them shit over arbitrarily creating the word “chocomallow” and not even including a hyphen. Question answered.

(Speaking of which, while I’ve never seen it as an actual flavor of ice cream, “chocomallow” seems to be Rocky Road minus the nuts. Which I’m pretty glad of, since it means I can bring this home without risking my younger daughter going into anaphylactic shock, but I just thought I’d clarify that. I’m assuming the alternate proposed name of “Nutless Rocky Road” tested poorly with focus groups.)

The box does a nice job of making its contents look pretty damn good. The blue and red contrast is eye-catching, and the “Hey, it sort of tastes like this!” ice cream scoop blends slightly in with the picture of the pastries, subconsciously associating the two in your mind.

I appreciate that the “50th Birthday” logo is up there in the corner, relatively subdued but still visible enough to be noticed, without having confetti and fireworks all over the background of the cover design. It reminds me of the business cards we all got a few years ago when the company I work for turned 50. We celebrated with a sweet company picnic instead of releasing half a dozen new versions of our product, but otherwise it’s pretty much identical.

Kellogg’s Limited Edition Frosted Chocomallow Sundae Pop-Tarts Closeup

For what it’s worth, the tarts themselves look pretty visually appealing too, with chocolate sprinkles generously scattered in the top frosting. But you don’t care about any of that unless the taste is something to write home about. So, is it?

In a word, yes. In a few words: yeah, it’s pretty good. I don’t know if it’s “drive to Target if there’s nothing else you wanted to buy there” good, but it’s certainly worth a pick-up if you’re already there buying school supplies or Halloween candy because holy shit it is Fall ALREADY, you guys. What the eff?

The filling is marshmallow creme, the kind you’re already used to if you’ve had the S’mores variety. In fact, the pastry as a whole has a lot in common with S’mores (not a bad thing), but the frosting on top is a bit different, with sprinkles rather than the uniformity of S’mores.

The textures are pretty comparable, which again: not a negative. Assuming you don’t get distracted deleting emails and burn the ever-living crap out of it like the one I’m eating right now, it’s crispy but has just the right amount of give. The chocolate frosting on top tends to get slightly subsumed in the marshmallow flavor, but you’ll still be able to taste it. And as campers have known for generations, ‘mallow plus chocolate equals, well, the only reason to go camping.

Quantity-wise, there’s pretty generous amounts of filling. I found the frosting on top to be much more variable — some pastries had a lot, some only a moderate amount, and definitely not uniformly spread… many had frosting pooled on one side with the other side relatively bare. I know, I know, #FirstWorldProblems.

The bottom line is, there’s no real reason not to grab yourself a box while they’re available: they’re tasty, the price is definitely right ($2.50 for a box of twelve is like 1950s pricing), and they just opened another Target near you. Maybe knock off a couple of points for the high fat and sugar values and the fact that, at the end of the day, it’s still a pretty basic (though good!) flavor combo. But even so, if you find yourself in a Target in the near future, no reason not to give these a purchase.

(Nutrition Facts – 1 pastry – 190 calories, 35 calories from fat, 4 grams of total fat, 1.5 grams of saturated fat, 0 grams of trans fat, 1.5 grams of polyunsaturated fat, 1 gram of monounsaturated fat, 0 milligrams of cholesterol, 260 milligrams of sodium, 36 grams of total carbohydrates, less than 1 gram of dietary fiber, 19 grams of sugars, 2 grams of protein..)

Item: Kellogg’s Limited Edition Frosted Chocomallow Sundae Pop-Tarts
Purchased Price: $2.50
Size: 12-pack
Purchased at: Target
Rating: 8 out of 10
Pros: Twenty bits for twelve Pop-Tarts ain’t bad at all. Better than other birthday offerings. Striking box. Hard to go wrong with marshmallow creme and chocolate. Far from healthy for you, but could be a lot worse.
Cons: No really, it’s Autumn already, like how is that even possible? Taste is good but nothing drastically different from S’Mores, which we already had. Knock it off with the “7 Vitamins & Minerals” and other health brags — we already know it’s bad for us and we buy it anyway, just cut the shit.

REVIEW: Kellogg’s Birthday Edition Flavor Flashback Milk Chocolate Graham Pop-Tarts

Kellogg's Birthday Edition Flavor Flashback Milk Chocolate Graham Pop-Tarts

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.

Kellogg's Birthday Edition Flavor Flashback Milk Chocolate Graham Pop-Tarts 2

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.

REVIEW: Kellogg’s Birthday Edition Flavor Flashback Frosted Chocolate Vanilla Creme Pop-Tarts

Kellogg's Birthday Edition Flavor Flashback Frosted Chocolate Vanilla Creme Pop-Tarts

Much that makes this world excellent is breaching the big 5-0 this year: Lucky Charms, The Giving Tree, the Civil Rights Act, Dr. Strangelove. Even my beloved Pop-Tarts are whipping out their walkers and hauling their rectangular, toastified hineys Over The Hill, and, in what can only be described as a birthday party for the public, Pop-Tarts is blessing us with a flavor that’s existed only in the history books since its 2009 extinction: Chocolate Vanilla Crème.

Kellogg's Birthday Edition Flavor Flashback Frosted Chocolate Vanilla Creme Pop-Tarts Fresh out of the wrapper

Right out of the wrapper, the smell of Cocoa Puffs poofs into the kitchen, knocking my nose around with smells of cocoa cereal and sweet, sweet sugar. There’s no trace of vanilla scooting into my nose just yet, but I’ve yet to crack open the gooey insides. Quick, get thee to a toaster!

Post-toast, the crust retains that certain crunch of a crackle that I so love to find in my Pop-Tarts, bursting open to reveal a layer of white goo that holds all the smell and consistency of marshmallow fluff.

And while the crust delivers on texture, it’s a bit dulled on the flavor spectrum. More mild than Cookies n’ Crème, less chocolatey than a Teddy Graham, the initial wafts of cocoa only transfer the lightest hints of a Tootsie-Roll-like cocoa powder into the actual taste, landing with all the sadness of a deflated red balloon from a French film.

Kellogg's Birthday Edition Flavor Flashback Frosted Chocolate Vanilla Creme Pop-Tarts marshmallowy innards

What reins supreme is the gooey frosting center, which retains the taste and texture of a fluffified Betty Crocker Icing. The volume of his poofy innard feels scant, becoming peculiarly crusty if toasted for too long, but it delivers a powerful punch of a sugar rush with a tinge of artificial vanilla to bring some flavor to the faintly flavored crust.

Despite the wonky balance in flavor, when the forces of both elements combine, the whole Flashback Flavor tastes a bit like the birthday cake you might find at your friendly neighborhood grocer, and who’s to judge if you’re a lover grocery store birthday cake? Nary a soul! Lift up your weary head, Birthday Cake Lover, for your cake, too, should be celebrated in all its glorious, unquestioned sugary sweetness. In fact, if you or your significant other has a hankering for grocery store cake but is worried about frosting-coated fingers, consider picking up a box of these for Valentine’s Day. Nothing says, “I love you” like a new version of a formerly extinct toaster pastry.

I have a theory that, with every year we age, we get 1 percent more awesome. If that’s true, Pop-Tarts are 50 percent awesome this year. Classic flavors, like Strawberry and Brown Sugar Cinnamon, coupled with some of the newer flavors, like Pumpkin Pie and Peanut Butter, prove that Pop-Tarts’ 50 percent awesomeness has been attained. Unfortunately, this particular flavor fell just a smidge short from its tasty kin for me. While its sugary sweetness covered me to ride on a 6-day Sugar Rush, the crust was a bit flat on flavor and the filling, while fluffy, fell on the sword of too little vanilla flavor.

Kellogg's Birthday Edition Flavor Flashback Frosted Chocolate Vanilla Creme Pop-Tarts Part of this birthday balanced breakfast

At the same time, while these may not amaze, I have to remember: these particular Pop-Tarts weren’t built to amaze. They were built to remind. To harken back to a Pop-Tart of yore, and, on that note, they deliver. For those nostalgic for the ol’ Chocolate Vanilla Crème or looking for a good eBay item to sell, definitely stock up now. For others searching for a powerful chocolate vanilla experience, these fall short, reminding that Pop-Tarts may be 50 percent awesome, but they still have 50 percent more room to grow.

So Happy 50th, Pop-Tarts. Thank you for bringing me your pastries. Please continue to do so for another 50. I’ll continue to eat them by the box-full.

(Nutrition Facts – 1 toaster pastry – 200 calories, 45 calories from fat, 5 grams of fat, 1.5 grams of saturated fat, 0 grams of trans fat, 0 milligrams of cholesterol, 210 milligrams of sodium, 37 grams of carbohydrates, less than 1 gram of dietary fiber, 20 grams of sugars, and 2 grams of protein.)

Item: Kellogg’s Birthday Edition Flavor Flashback Frosted Chocolate Vanilla Creme Pop-Tarts
Purchased Price: $1.98
Size: 8 pastries
Purchased at: Walmart
Rating: 6 out of 10
Pros: Crispy crust. Marshmallowy sugar innards. Smells like Cocoa Puffs. Betty Crocker icing. The Giving Tree. Pop-Tarts are officially 50 percent awesome. Celebration for grocery store cake.
Cons: Not as chocolatey as they smell. More sugary than vanilla-y. Innards get cooked away when in the toaster too long. Toaster pastry extinction. Popped balloons of sorrow.

REVIEW: Pop-Tarts Gone Nutty! Peanut Butter

Pop-Tarts Gone Nutty! Peanut Butter

More orange than a University of Texas football jersey and more texturally variegated than a special edition Pokémon card, it’s the latest, greatest Pop-Tarts box filled with peanut butter toaster pastries!!

Yes, people, it’s here.

After a 27-year hiatus, peanut butter is bursting through the wall of Pop-Tarts with more superhero powers than the Powerpuff Girls and Kool-Aid Man combined and, after three trips to Walmart and a narrow escape from a runaway grocery cart, I have attained my box of six golden delights.

No, your eyes aren’t fooling you. That is a gold wrapper you see and, after an in-depth psychological study, I have concluded that golden wrappers are magic.

Every time I open one, I find myself believing I am Charlie Bucket peeling back the winning Wonka wrapper, then I skip into the streets and burst into song (“I’ve got a golden ticket!”).

Apologies to anyone who had the experience of hearing me sing and thank you, Kellogg’s, for providing me with the fulfillment of a childhood dream, even if it’s only in my mind.

Pop-Tarts Gone Nutty! Peanut Butter Golden Ticket

All delusions of winning a trip to see an eccentric, semi-crazed candy maker aside, let’s get down to brass tacks: what do these suckers taste like?

If there’s anything the marketing plan at Google has proven, it’s that simple is always best, and these toaster pastries reinforce just that: absent of jelly or honey, these unfrosted Plain Janes allow the simple, beautiful peanut butter to shine. The crust is sweet, slightly salty, and sprinkled with sugar, harkening back to old-school peanut butter cookies.

The peanut butter inside is of the creamy variety, a touch sweeter and gooey-er than my regular Skippy, which makes it just perfect for the filling. It adds the sugary, salty, roasted-peanut creaminess needed to play off the crackly, sucrose-laden crust.

And, indeed, this is one crackly crust. If you’re unfamiliar with the genus of unfrosted Pop-Tarts, you may want to know that this crust is a little more crumbly than what you might find with a frosted Pop-Tart. The grainy casing of this fella will give your pastry-munching experience more of a shortbread/homemade graham cracker feel. Despite its more delicate nature, the crust holds the filling inside it throughout the toasting, never breaking at the seams.

Pop-Tarts Gone Nutty! Peanut Butter Innards

Have I mentioned toasting would be encouraged? It would be. If these taste astounding right out of the wrapper, they taste even better toasted, a feat I thought impossible at this point. The edges of the crust get slightly crisp and the peanut butter filling softens and collects at the bottom, allowing your last bite to be full of all four of the five food groups: crispy, salty, gooey, and sweet.

And these Pop-Tarts give you agency as a creative human. In the absence of jelly or any other filling, you can add whatever you like to make your own Pop-Tarts “sandwich.” Marshmallow, Doritos, ice cream, ranch dressing, whatever. I’m not gonna judge. You want some jelly with yours? Plop a friendly slab on there or, better yet, go get a box of Strawberry Pop-Tarts and eat both Pop-Tarts together. Now that’s a peanut butter and jelly sandwich.

The greatest crime these have committed is that there are only six in a box as opposed to the regular eight. According to a response to a customer on the Pop-Tarts Facebook page, this was done to keep the price level the same as peanut butter is a more expensive ingredient.

(Margaret shakes a blighted fist to the sky!)

Curse you, market of overpriced crushed legumes!!

Number games aside, these are delicious. Up there in my top three, maybe even my top two Pop-Tarts of all time. They are crispy and salty enough to allow me to imagine they’d be perfect for breakfast while being just sweet enough to please the dessert lover in me. Give me a pack of these and some chocolate ice cream and I’m a happy kid. If Pop-Tarts are looking to up their sales, these will make for a growth curve gone vertical in my book.

(Nutrition Facts – 1 pastry – 200 calories, 60 calories from fat, 6 grams of fat, 2 grams of saturated fat, 0 grams of trans fat, 0 milligrams of cholesterol, 250 milligrams of sodium, 0 milligrams of potassium, 34 grams of carbohydrates, 1 gram of dietary fiber, 16 grams of sugars, and 3 grams of protein.)

Item: Pop-Tarts Gone Nutty! Peanut Butter
Purchased Price: $1.98
Size: 1 box/6 pastries
Purchased at: Walmart
Rating: 9 out of 10
Pros: Gooey, creamy peanut butter. Shortbread cookie crust. Crackly sugar coating. Even better toasted. Cool box. Golden wrappers. One of the best Pop-Tarts experiences I’ve ever had. Most likely formed by powers of Kool-Aid Man and the Powerpuff Girls combined.
Cons: Only 6 per box. Overpriced crushed legumes. Golden wrappers do not earn you trip to eccentric candy maker’s laboratory. Runaway grocery carts in Wal-Mart. Realizing (yet again) that I am not musically inclined.