Following Thanksgiving, most people wear out their taste buds with turkey sandwiches, turkey soup, turkey casseroles and the occasional turkey pot pie.
Nobody even wants to talk turkey, including me — and I didn’t even have turkey at Thanksgiving. Instead, I’d like to talk about that other most American of foods — the Pop-Tart.
Launched by the beloved breakfast people at Kellogg’s in the mid-1960s, the Pop-Tart has become a staple for generations of bleary-eyed children who can’t be convinced to finish a bowl of cereal before they have to catch the school bus and people who want another excuse to eat dessert for breakfast.
I’ve eaten a lot of Pop-Tarts over the years.
They’re meant to be toasted, but I could shingle a duplex with the number of Pop-Tarts I’ve eaten cold, right out of the wrapper.
In my less nutritionally responsible days, I devoured entire boxes of Pop-Tarts in a single sitting. On a couple of occasions, I spread peanut butter and jelly between two Pop-Tarts to make a sandwich.
This would have been when I was a college freshman, when I was young, eager to expand my dietary horizons and probably hungover.
Over the years, I’ve tried dozens of Pop-Tart varieties. I’ve had the frosted and the unfrosted. Almost universally, the frosted are better.
The best fruit flavor is Frosted Cherry. It has a tiny bit of tartness that most of the other fruit Pop-Tarts don’t have. Second best is Frosted Crisp Apple, but only for the smell, which is like warm apple pie. If you really want a good apple pastry for breakfast, however, you’re better off getting a Pillsbury Toaster Strudel.
I admit to not trying every variety, which is impossible unless you work for Kellogg’s. The company regularly releases new flavors, some just for a season or a limited time.
Not all are winners, but they probably hit more than they miss.
According to their website, new Pop-Tart flavors include Banana Crème Pie, Lemon Crème Pie, and Peach Cobbler, which sound like some kind of sorcery.
Who among us hasn’t had pie for breakfast?
Regardless, my money says the best Pop-Tart is the Frosted Hot Fudge Sundae, which has a creamy fudge flavor and tastes like heaven when it’s still warm from the toaster and served with a tall glass of ice-cold milk.
Pop-Tarts are unapologetic gut bombs. Other than a fair number of calories, they don’t have a lot else nutritionally going for them, but you don’t eat Pop-Tarts because you’re counting macronutrients.
You eat Pop-Tarts because you know they’re loaded with sugar. They’re a treat and you have one because it reminds you of home, when your mother, rushing you out the door to catch a school bus handed them to you because she wanted to make sure you ate something.