Sometimes – more so as I age – I’ll find myself lying awake at night, worrying about life and the world, and what kind of future my children will have. Occasionally I’ll even bolt up in the middle of the night, paralyzed by some horrible thought; like terrorists getting nuclear weapons, or any of the current presidential hopefuls actually being elected, or the fact that we’ve nearly depleted our supply of unique and delicious pastry flavors. That last one may not scare you, but it does worry me, and I bet it scares the pants off the good people in the Kellogg’s Poptart division – which no doubt leads to quite a few indecent exposure lawsuits from HR. A good suspender salesman could probably make a killing over there right now.
I say this because it seems like the Poptarts folks have been reaching lately and not hitting many home runs. Perhaps you’ve noticed that the nation has been having what I would describe as a “Bacon Boom” of late. I believe this is due to brilliant advertising by the American Council of Gristle and Sizzle (AmCoGaS), combined with significant grassroots efforts by their historical partner, the National Committee for Inadvertent Smoke Detector Testing (BEEP!). Together these organizations, and the millions of 18-40 year old men they’ve pandered to, have helped make bacon-enhanced dishes staples of both home and restaurant menus nationwide, working the characteristic mouthwatering smokiness into food products that would’ve been impossible to violate only a generation ago! I have wholeheartedly supported this movement, and it is because of my history with things like the bacon explosion – and my penchant for unhealthy food in general – that I have recently received a good deal of bacon-related products. These have included popcorn, hot chocolate, candy bars, and jerky, among others. This tendency towards transfats, coupled with my physical NEED to try every new Poptart flavor that gets released (a crippling disability that should be classified as mental illness), led me to purchase a box of the new Maple Bacon flavored Poptarts (Available for a Limited Time!) during a recent shopping trip that my wife – perhaps mistakenly – let me take on my own. I suppose it was inevitable that Poptarts would hop on the bacon train – they’re both breakfast items after all; however, after breaking open a package, I feel I owe it to the breakfast-loving public to offer my honest review as a connoisseur of fine tarts from way back, so that others might avoid my pain.
The initial aroma out of the package was pleasant; essentially what I would describe as “maple donut”. I was hopeful at that point. Unfortunately, the aroma after toasting is completely different – there’s almost no maple at all, that scent having been replaced by what I would describe as “gross fake bacon”. After buttering them up (that’s how I roll – because its’ the only correct way to eat a Poptart),
I believe the flavor is best described as “awful”. How awful, you ask? It was like eating a cigarette butt you found on the ground. The edges were actually a little better because there was less flavor there. I did finish one pastry in its entirety, but in an unprecedented move, I threw the second in the trash and grabbed an English muffin. Let me just repeat that to let the gravity of the situation sink in; I – Dan – THREW AWAY a frosted confection covered in melted butter. It was that bad. I cannot recommend these, and furthermore suggest that the Surgeon General have them relabeled with a more appropriate name, such as “Maple Char Puketarts: By Marlboro”.
During the same shopping trip, I also picked up a box of Watermelon pop tarts, which I had been avoiding for fear that they would be equally awful. Unfortunately this purchase was unavoidable, because I found a coupon for $1 off a dozen eggs with purchase of two boxes of Poptarts (totally related items), so I was forced to buy them. While I still didn’t love the watermelon flavor, they didn’t even come close to reaching the Echelon of Awful achieved by the Maple Bacon flavor. First of all, I loved the frosting – I’ve always been attracted to unnatural, neon colors – probably a byproduct of growing up in the 80s. Second, the watermelon tarts had a very mild aroma out of both the package and the toaster. It did occur to me that butter and watermelon might be strange bedfellows – and they were – but it’s a Poptart, and by God, that’s what you do! I found them to be quite watermelony (think Jolly Rancher), without being overpowering – the flavor definitely matched the mellowness of the aroma. So this variety at least delivered what it promised; and it did it in eye-catching artificial colors. (+10 Breakfast points) Unfortunately I don’t think I’d buy them again. While there’s a chance they’d be better cold, the flavor of watermelon in a pastry format is just fundamentally unappealing to me. And speaking of fundamentally unappealing, I just heard on the radio this morning that two MORE new flavors will be released next month – ever hopeful, I dialed up the volume and leaned in close to hear what they would be…the answer? Orange Crush and Rootbeer. I’ve already started stocking up on sandpaper for my tongue.
So in regrettable conclusion, as excited as I always am to see additional variety in the Poptart lineup, I’m afraid you’d have to be a complete Poptard to buy any of these new flavors – unless you’re doing it for the purposes of reviewing them on a blog…
or you suffer from the same condition as me, in which case I’ll see you at the meeting on Tuesday. Remember to bring a box to share. For the time being, the rest of you out there are better off sticking with the comforting electric purple frosting of the Wildberry tarts and praying to the pastry gods for delicious new fruit discoveries – I’m sure the good folks at Kelloggs have people out scouring the globe at this very moment, combing across deserted islands and remote mountain peaks, braving cannibals and tropical disease in search of undiscovered or long forgotten berries to replicate with sugar and artificial flavor agents – and for that, I salute them. Though a cheaper alternative may be for the company to take a page out of the Lays Potato Chips book and start a “Do us a flavor” campaign of their own! That’s a contest I could get behind! I’ll start writing letters – and I suggest you do to. Only together can we prevent further flavor atrocities! Think of the children.