Ask anybody who was a kid in the ’90s their favorite Pop-Tarts flavor and you’ll get a hundred different answers. There aren’t a hundred different Pop-Tarts flavors, obviously, but there are that many combinations of filling, topping, and situation: frosted, unfrosted, sprinkled, toasted, eaten right out of the package at 2 a.m., and promotional tie-ins. The brilliance of Pop-Tarts (and Kellogg Co.’s product development team) is their ability to create impulse demand through limited-time flavors and promos. I’m sure there are smart, well-paid executives who are right now pitching Frozen cobranded Pop-Tarts.
(As a side note, it’s worth checking out the Pop-Tarts Wikipedia page to revisit some classic flavors—hello S’mores!—and out-there concepts. Please tell me no one has ever actually purchased Lime Inception Pop-Tarts.)
This year, Kellogg’s is tapping into nostalgia with a rerelease of sorts: Frosted PB & J Strawberry Pop-Tarts, part of the Gone Nutty collection. The aficionado of Pop-Tarts history will recall the grape version of PB & J released in 1986. The rest of us may not remember the flavor—it only lasted a year—but are probably still haunted by this gem of a commercial.
Kellogg’s is putting some solid PR behind this newer release, with a #PBJDayGoneNuttyContest contest challenge on Vine, Twitter, and Instagram. Prizes will be awarded on National Peanut Butter and Jelly Day, April 2. Personally, I’d rather they scheduled the contest for April Fools’ Day, just to shame anyone who will actually be tweeting about Pop-Tarts. Then again, I’m secretly hoping I win for writing a whole article about Pop-Tarts (joking, but I’d still like to win).
Whether I do or not, it was seriously a great honor to get to try the PB & J Strawberry. And let me tell you, if you haven’t had a Pop-Tart recently, you’re in for a nostalgia trip. It’s exactly what I remember from 20 years ago: the packaging, texture, smell, and cavity-inducing sweetness. All still there.
To make a comprehensive evaluation, I tried one untoasted (the dumb way, for the record) and toasted. I will say that, like a regular peanut butter and jelly sandwich, toasting is the way to go. Add frosting and sugar sprinkles, and the PB & J Strawberry tastes about as good as any 50-cent toaster pastry that comes in foil packaging could. (I’m throwing out Pillsbury’s Toaster Strudel from that calculation because [a] they come frozen, [b] they are, by nature, a little hoity-toity, and [c] that blond Bavarian kid sort of creeps me out.)
So is the PB & J Strawberry worth the supermarket semi-embarrassment that comes with buying Pop-Tarts as an adult with no toddler in your shopping cart? Unless you don’t care if your fellow shoppers will assume you’re stoned, probably not. However, it is worth sneaking a bite or two the next time you’re hanging out with your nephew.
Photos by Dan McKay