Stop — just stop. I know what you are going to say. "Fahey, you already reviewed Pop-Tarts. You even suggested a new slogan for Kellogg's — I believe it was 'Pop-Tarts: F*** Breakfast.'" That's true, but these are not Pop-Tarts. These are new Pop-Tarts Gone Nutty Exclamation Point, and they are beautiful monsters for your mouth.
I wasn't looking for snacks — that's often the best time to find them. I was scouring local Targets for a pair of newly-released Transformers toys (Springer and Blitzwing, if you must know), and as I was leaving my fifth location with no new toys in my hands, I went seeking solace where I'd found it many times before — the snack aisle.
I should really say "snack aisles", as Target stores are a wonderland of treats that rivals the Candy Mountain Cave. There is an aisle for candy, an aisle for salty snacks, an aisle for seasonal candy and end caps filled with fresh new items the Wal-Mart folks are too lazy to put on the shelves and K-Mart won't see for another decade. Items like Pop-Tarts Gone Nutty Exclamation Point.
I find traditional Pop-Tarts enjoyable enough, but they are not a go-to snack for me, mainly due to the calories. I count them, you see, and 400 calories for a single dog food-preserving packet of two tarts is too big a bite out of my budget. If they made singles then sure, I'd eat them all day long, possibly even two-at-a-time. It's about calorie economy.
Still, as a snack scientist I couldn't very well resist two new flavors in bright orange packaging — my snackologist card would be revoked. My wife would leave me. My children would grow up in shame. The snackology community would break my windows with fudge bricks — well, they'd splatter my windows. It's very hot in Atlanta.
Fearing repercussions, I had no choice but to loosen my belt and take my peanut buttery penance like a man (who had been looking for children's toys for himself not five minutes prior. Really not sure whose side this inner voice is supposed to be on).
From the moment the Peanut Butter Pop-Tart slips free its shiny foil bonds, it's readily evident this is no normal breakfast treat. The dough is lighter and coated with a glimmering diamond-dusting of sugar. Care must be taken with the tart, for this is not the cardboard-tough traditional composition, but something lighter and softer.
See the front of the box? There in the bottom left corner? That's a fresh-baked peanut butter cookie, and for once the outside of the box correctly identifies the taste and texture of the item within. Biting into one of these is exactly the same as biting into a peanut butter cookie straight from the oven, only without all the screaming and blistered lips. The cream between the soft cookie shell acts and tastes like molten peanut butter cookie dough. The overall effect is glorious. They need no toasting.
Were all Pop-Tarts once this soft? Are these firm-yet-giving pillows of peanut butter perfection only yielding to my teeth so easily out of inexperience? I almost feel ashamed of taking advantage — almost.
As with fresh-baked peanut butter cookies, the sublime subtly of the Peanut Butter pop-Tart loses something when betrayed by chocolate. To mean, peanut butter cookies with chocolate frosting or chips always felt like a slight to the core ingredient — a cowardly act by those with no faith in the core flavor.
Now that is not to say that peanut butter and chocolate are not pleasing bedfellows. Time and time again the pair has proven their coupling a righteous event. I'm particularly fond of chocolate cookies with peanut butter chips, for example. I simply feel that when chocolate is added to a peanut butter snack, it is no longer a peanut butter snack — it's a chocolate peanut butter snack, a disparate entity that should exist outside of the proud Gone Nutty Exclamation Point packaging.
Just look at the crust.
The glittering sugar plains of the straight Peanut Butter variety are gone, left desolate and bare by the cocoa invasion. The crust is firmer, more akin to standard chocolate Pop-Tart than fresh cookie. And that frosting? Its hard edge stabs at its own peanut butter heart.
It's still delicious, but I much prefer the plain peanut butter variety. It's more honest and giving.
I've yet to find Springer or Blitzwing, though in a way I have. I went out seeking the satisfaction of procuring something new and enjoyable, and that's exactly what I wound up doing. Peanut Butter Pop-Tarts are a fine substitute for a robot that turns into a helicopter and a dune buggy, while Chocolate Frosted Peanut Butter Pop-Tarts are the robot that turns into a jet and tank that I picked up just to complete the set.
Snacktaku is Kotaku's take on the wild and wonderful world of eating things, but not eating meals. Eating meals is for those with too much time on their hands. Past critiques can be found at the Snacktaku review archive.