Fun fact: bananas in the wild used to taste like yellow Runts candy. Now long extinct, that version of bananas has now re-emerged like a fossil in Pop-Tarts. Not to be outdone by Mother Nature, Pop-Tarts has matched their new pie flavors to what I imagine 80s prom dresses taste like – pastel concoctions that made women look like Designing Women cast members.
Pop-Tarts went for full-on nostalgia with their latest flavors/Strawberry Shortcake characters in pastry form: Banana Crème Pie, Lemon Crème Pie. and the decidingly-not-a-pie, Peach Cobbler. Taken over by the ghosts of Laura Ashley and Gunne Sax in Publix, I bought a box of each flavor to see what the Pop-Tart chemists had created. I opened the fluttery silver wrapper (twin to my 9th grade homecoming dress) and found brightly-colored frostings with odd brown flecks in them. Not only are the new Pop-Tarts flavors day-glo pastels, their frostings and interiors are dyed to match like satin Payless Dyables shoes.
I tried each flavor with the expectation they would be as cinnamon-y or as chocolate-y as my favorite existing Pop-Tarts flavors. Nope. By shooting for 80s vintage or turn-of-the-century freaky extinct bananas, each flavor felt like licking fruit, but from a distance. Or scratch-and-sniffing a pie t-shirt. Artificial-tasting and looking.
To be fair, the descriptions sound good: graham cracker flavored crust and topping, with a very satisfying lemon crème filling or a natural tasting banana crème filling. I’m guessing that “natural tasting” filling was made from the chemical remnants of a turn-of-the-century banana left behind in someone’s refrigerator so they could make banana bread. What you actually find in the package is bright unnatural fillings that are bright and artificial with mysterious flecks of brown “crust” in the fields of day-glo frosting.
“These are good straight out of (sic) the pouch, but amazing tasting toasted.”
The website touts the amazingness of the pie-ness of these pastries. I don’t drink and do eat my Pop-Tarts heated up. I think being a little toasted might make them taste more amazing. Or maybe half a container of Cool-Whip on top. These new Pop-Tarts flavors are going to the back of the pantry. I’ll bring them out the next time I wear my matching 80s prom dress as a Halloween costume. In the meantime, I’ll be watching for Dodo bird flavored Pop-Tarts.
Amy Barnes has food-friendly words at a variety of publications including The Dot, Allrecipes, The Spruce Eats, Parade (Relish), Forbes, Gnashing Teeth’s “Heat the Grease, We’re Frying Up some Poetry” anthology, Tom Hazuka’s “Flash Nonfiction Food: 91 Very Delicious, Very True, Very Short Stories” anthology, Chowhound, Farm Flavor, Simplemost and Clean Plates. Her humor writing has been published at sites including McSweeney’s, The Daily Drunk, Weekly Humorist, Funny or Die, Botnik Studios, College Humor, The Cooper Review, The Higgs Weldon and Robot Butt. She is an associate editor at Fractured Lit, co-editor at Gone Lawn and volunteers for Taco Bell Quarterly, CRAFT Literary, Retreat West, NFFD, Narratively and The Macguffin. Her first collection of flash fiction is forthcoming in summer, 2021.