According to breakfast food lore, the Pop-Tart, like most great products, was allegedly just a knock-off of another company’s idea when it was introduced to stores in 1964. Fifty years later to the week, Kellogg’s and busy parents everywhere are celebrating the unlikely longevity of a bizarre but tasty “toaster pastry” that made for a suitable item to shove into a kid’s grubby hands as he was being shuffled out the front door to his bus stop. Sure, the company’s profits are down, but somehow the Pop-Tart remains a consistent and often improving seller. Basically, the Pop-Tart is the Trent Dilfer of Kellogg’s foods.
Of course, the history of the Pop-Tart isn’t exactly filled with gooey, heartwarming stories of the little, packaged breakfast pastry that could, nor is it exactly the healthiest alternative to a nice bowl of cereal and a glass of orange juice. Again, this snack was reportedly created after Post developed the similar Country Square, and despite its emergence as the industry leader in saving tired parents time in the morning, the Pop-Tart was never meant to be mistaken for a source of nutrition. Only 10 percent of the fruit filling is actually fruit, which is why the company had to stop saying that Pop-Tarts are “made with real fruit” in 2006. Fortunately for Kellogg’s, the decision was reversed, and the company’s continued use of the “real fruit” claim still draws criticism and complaints over health concerns.
Oh, and there’s also that whole atomic balls of fire thing.
While the flammable properties of the Pop-Tart were first brought to light in a 1992 lawsuit, it was Texas A&M Corpus Christi professor Patrick Michaud who really fired up product liability lawyers with his 1994 experiment that turned a simple Pop-Tart into a raging inferno. People were so quick to hop on that potential money train that Kellogg’s eventually had to print a warning on the box that people should not leave their toasters if they’ve put Pop-Tarts in them. Now, I’m no big shot city slicker fancy lawyer type, but putting a Pop-Tart in the toaster doesn’t really do anything for the flavor anyway. Pop those suckers out of the tin foil, chow down and wipe the crust droppings off your shirts, fatties. OR ELSE!!!
Obviously, there are some 1%ers out there who will try to tell you that Toaster Strudel is far superior to Pop-Tarts, and they’re technically right if you’re into that whole fruit filling that actually tastes like fruit and icing that is actually melted and not potentially made from plaster way of life. But I’m a blue collar breakfast eater, and I also want to punt this Toaster Strudel commercial directly into a Pop-Tart fire.
Yodeling should be reserved to mountain tops and the Cliffhangers game on The Price is Right.
However, I come here today not to complain about the annoying Toaster Strudel kid, but to celebrate an amazing milestone for Kellogg’s and the Pop-Tart. I mean, 50 years is pretty remarkable for any food out there, especially one that has come under so much scrutiny for having all the nutritional value of a wet shoe. Kellogg’s has approximately 25 Pop-Tart flavors in circulation at any given time, including the new Birthday Edition Chocolate Vanilla Crème, which just screams, “My kid is being picked last in kickball for the rest of his life.” So to honor this snack that I remember semi-fondly from my own childhood, let’s rank the best Pop-Tart flavors
I’ve eaten actual S’mores before – I know, I’m f*cking fancy like that – so I’m not really sure what the S’mores Pop-Tart is trying to taste like. But whatever that brown and white paste concoction is made of is pretty damn tasty to the point that it distracts a person long enough before he finally stops and wonders, “Do I really need to eat a second pack?” The S’mores flavor was a favorite of mine during a very enlightened period of my life. *wink, wink, nudge, nudge, exhales*
9) Chocolate Fudge
There was always something about the brown Pop-Tarts crust that was better than the normal stuff – if only there was some sort of clever phrase to explain that – because it was just softer and felt like it was actually made from ingredients that, at one point in the last year, were fresh. Ultimately, chocolate is good and fudge is good, so together they’re pretty rad.
8) Red Velvet
For something that was intended to be a fruit-filled snack for morning consumption, Pop-Tarts feature a lot of flavors that sound like they were made for bachelors who live in their parents’ garage apartments to impress the one girl they bring home each year. Red velvet anything is typically great, though, and it’s better than the unfrosted Pop-Tarts, which will be mentioned nowhere on this list.
7) Red, White and Berry
U-S-A! U-S-A! U-S-A!
6) Pumpkin Pie
You can complain about the annual influx of pumpkin flavor and snacks all you want, but I’m at the front of the line when it comes to demanding that pumpkin have more of an annual presence in everything from my Pop-Tarts to coffee. Unrelated: Do yourselves a favor and try the Kashi Pumpkin Spice Flax granola bars. They’re the best thing on Earth.
When it comes to actual fruit, I’m the president of the blueberry fan club. Pop-Tart flavoring, though, is a whole different story. It’s blue. It tastes sort of like a berry. It’s certainly not terrible, but it sure doesn’t taste like blueberries. Also, when it comes to blueberries, it’s really not the same if the package doesn’t read something like: “Contains essential antioxidants.” Half of the joy that I get from eating food is being tricked into thinking that it’s healthier than it actually is. Hell, half of the crap in my fridge has pomegranate in it, and I don’t even know what one looks like.
A lot of people out there might argue that cherry is the tops when it comes to any artificial flavoring, but not this connoisseur of culinary cud. I’ll admit, a cherry Pop-Tart is as fine as any other, but it’s definitely not the best of the fruit flavors, that’s for damn sure.
3) Cookies & Cream
Of the many seasonal and annual varieties of chocolate- or vanilla-based Pop-Tarts, Cookies & Cream is the best, because it involves a little of both worlds. At the same time, on a semi-related note, Cookies & Cream is the best ice cream flavor. There should be a machine that dispenses it into mini waffle cones at the Smithsonian.
2) Brown Sugar Cinnamon
It’s not fruity, but it’s also not such an insane dessert concoction that it makes an ordinary man beg a god that he doesn’t believe in to remove it from his stomach in exchange for the soul of his first-born child. Obviously, in this “hypothetical” situation, I’m referring to the Hot Fudge Sundae flavor.
A lot of people think that cherry is the best of the red flavors in candy and snack foods. Nope. Strawberry, son. Don’t f*ck with the king, mostly because it could explode and burn your house down.