Limited Edition Orange Cream Pop-Tarts

By: Kellogg’s

I Paid: $2.29 for a box of eight (prices may vary by region)

Taste: 4stars

Marketing: 3stars

“Limited edition” is an awfully haughty descriptor for Pop-Tarts, but there you have it: a seasonal summer Orange Cream flavor. The pastries come filled with orange, vaguely sherbet-tasting goo and covered with vanilla frosting sporting an orange swirl. And they do a surprisingly good job of living up to the Creamsicle image on the box. As Pop-Tarts go they’re subtle: There’s no punch-in-the-gut attack of sick, syrupy jam flavor, and even the sweetness level of the icing seems to be ratcheted down a bit. It’s entirely possible that these are the finest Pop-Tarts ever made.

Delivering some kind of authoritative taste ranking for these things is about as challenging as food writing gets. In an absolute sense, they’re Pop-Tarts: mass-marketed, one-dimensional, unhealthy pieces of cardboard that you heat in a toaster before you disrespect yourself by eating them. They are, perhaps, the most perverted burlesque of a Belgian grandmother’s homemade fruit galette imaginable. That said, in a relative sense, these specific Pop-Tarts are the best that money can buy: restrained (for Pop-Tarts), marvelously flavored (for Pop-Tarts), creative (for Pop-Tarts), and well worth eating (for Pop-Tarts).

Fizz Ed

By: Apple & Eve

I Paid: $1 for an 8.4-ounce can (prices may vary by region)

Taste: 4stars

Marketing: 4stars

The market has been pounded in recent years with a surge of high-minded sodas, driven by health concerns and a desire for more sophisticated drinks (although Dr Pepper is still damned good with a 7-Layer Burrito). Fizz Ed wades into the tide with what it calls “pure fruit juice and sparkling water.”

It’s elegantly executed stuff: understated, no harsh edges, and not too aggressively carbonated. It’s a nimble balance between the sweetness of regular soda, the refreshing crispness of carbonated water, and the natural taste of fruit. At just 100 calories a can, Fizz Ed is a more austere alternative to the also excellent Switch. The latter has almost all of the sweetness (and therefore calories) of regular soda, but it packs more natural flavors, so it could handle pizza or chicken wings and survive. Fizz Ed would pair better with a garden salad or croissant sandwich.

The individual Fizz Ed flavors vary a bit in quality, but they all work. Orange Mango is a surprisingly good balance, considering how easily the orange could overwhelm its partner and upset the canoe; mango actually dominates, with orange supplying a supporting note at the back end of the flavor profile. Pomegranate Cherry is mild, not syrupy or cloying as many cherry sodas tend to be. And though the Green Apple flavor has a bit of a sour note, it feels refreshing and cleansing.

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