Friday, April 19, 2019

Pop Tarts vs. Trader Joe's Toaster Pastries

For the second installment of my Foods From Childhood series, I wanted to try Pop Tarts. Like I mentioned in my Cap'n Crunch episode, as a child, my sugar intake was restricted. I was a hyper boy, always chatting, always moving. With the Feingold Diet, my parents limited my intake of sugar, but that particular diet also included artificial colors and preservatives.

Pop Tarts fell nicely into both categories, especially the frosted kind.

And really, what other kind was worth eating?


As an adult, I watch what I eat pretty strictly. No, the irony's not lost on me that my parents implemented a low-sugar diet and now that I'm fifty, I realize the less sugar I consume, the better I feel. On my own, I've limited the amount of sugar I eat everyday. I love dark chocolate, and Trader Joe's has an excellent 85% dark chocolate bar. So when I saw a Trader Joe's version of a Pop Tart, er, toaster pastry, I bought it.

Then I noticed the vending machine at the office had strawberry-flavored Pop Tarts. With a quick $1.25 deposited, I had my Pop Tarts. Now, the obvious thing entered my head: Taste Test!

The Ingredients

Into the toaster went the Pop Tarts and the pastries from Trader Joe's. The Pop Tart had white frosting with colored sprinkles dotting the top. The toaster pastry featured a light brown frosting.

Also, I noticed the Pop Tart was noticeably thinner.

While I waited, I compared the ingredients. As you can imagine, the pastries from Trader Joe's listed items I could actually pronoun and knew from which they came. On the Pop Tart? Well, there were a LOT more ingredients, and I didn't recognize them all. Plus, you had the oddball coloring agents red 40, blue 1, and others.

What the heck are those? A cursory internet search will reveal some troubling findings.

So Trader Trader Joe's wins on ingredients.

The Appearance

Taking both pastries out of the toaster, the thinness of the Pop Tart nearly toppled it over as I moved it to my plate. Trader Joe's pastry held its shape easily.

I broke them both in half, and the bright red center of the Pop Tart burst out. Looks like red 40 did its job. The Trader Joe's pastry's filling was noticeably darker, not the red of the Pop Tart. So, for visual appeal, the Pop Tart clearly wins.

The Taste Test

I took a bite of each, Pop Tart first. The thinner crust kind of crumbled in my mouth. The taste was nice and sweet, but not overly sweet, surprisingly. The strawberry flavor was exactly what you'd expect.

But when I tasted the Trader Joe's pastry, I experienced something quite different. The thicker crust held its shape until my teeth did their thing. I realized the brown frosting was more maple-syrup like. The strawberry felt fresher in my mouth. And it was less sweet, but way more flavorful.

Clear winner: Trader Joe's Toaster Pastry.

Unlike Cap,n Crunch cereal which I continue to enjoy, I think any hankerings I have for a toaster pastry--which is so rare that before this little test, I couldn't remember the last time I'd had one--I'll be driving to Trader Joe's.

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