The Mysteries of the Tart

As a life rule, it's probably best to avoid neon-colored food. Sure, things like gummi worms are an exception, but candy like that was meant to be more of a treat than part of a balanced breakfast. On the other hand, Pop-Tarts can be found in the cereal aisle right next to the Shredded Wheat, and I don't know if you've looked at the Pop-Tart section in your grocery store lately, but it's chock full of colors that would make a box of Lucky Charms blush. Now, the fact that Pop-Tarts aren't exactly "health food" shouldn't come as a surprise to anyone, but since they're undeniably delicious, I have been known to bend my rule about neon-colored food from time to time in order to sample their deliciousness. Usually it's for the classic Strawberry, or if I'm feeling really crazy, S'Mores. But today, a couple of crazy flavors (and a need to find something to write about today) got me to purchase some truly tasty and horrifying treats. 

"New Flavor" eh? You mean, you plan on keeping this around?

"New Flavor" eh? You mean, you plan on keeping this around?

Let me start by saying that this isn't the first time Watermelon Pop-Tarts have been around. I adored these things when they first came out, and was heartbroken when they went away (which if I remember correctly was around the same time as the Reese's Crunchy Cookie Cup and the Wawa Boli, may they all rest in peace.) Naturally, when I saw that they had made a triumphant return as a "Limited Edition" flavor, I knew my fate was sealed. Of course, my grocery store was running a 2 for $5 deal, so I would have been a fool to not pick a second box to accompany this splurge, and my eyes went immediately to what has to be one of the most absurd Pop-Tart flavor ideas I've ever seen: Orange Crush. These I had earlier this summer, but more on them in a bit. 

Before we go any further, I'd like to draw your attention to something unsettling about the picture above. You know, aside from the fact that by all reason these things should be considered an abomination of food and science. Watermelons are a naturally occuring thing. They're delicious. I love them. I eat watermelon whenever I get the chance. Orange Crush is not naturally occuring. There is no Orange Crush tree. It's artificial as heck, but it's also the best darn orange soda on the planet. It's the gold (or orange) standard when it comes to carbonated orange beverages. But make no mistake, it's about as far from a glass of Tropicana as you're going to get without entering a whole other color spectrum. So why in the bloody heck are the Watermelon Pop-Tarts artificially flavored and the Orange Crush ones naturally flavored? What in the actual heck does that mean? What about an Orange Crush Pop-Tart sounds natural to you? What component of something that's made up of those words could even hope to be considered natural? Did the farmers at Kellog's walk out to the Orange Crush orchard, pick some fresh cans off the vine, and use them to flavor the Crush Pop-Tarts, and then just ripped open a bag of Jolly Ranchers to make the Watermelon ones? I'm so confused!!! 

I've always been a huge fan of the frosting runoff at the end of the Tart. It looks messy, but the less of the Pop-Tart "crust" you can taste, the better. 

I've always been a huge fan of the frosting runoff at the end of the Tart. It looks messy, but the less of the Pop-Tart "crust" you can taste, the better. 

Anyway, on to the flavors. Let's talk about the Watermelon ones first. Like I said before, I had fond memories of these Pop-Tarts. And with their florescent frosting patterns, what's not to love? I don't know if the Tarts themselves have changed, or if I've just come to appreciate real watermelon more over the last 10 years or so (I have, by the way. I looooooove me some watermelons) but they're honestly not as good as I remember. Not bad, mind you, but the thought of choosing them over Strawberry no longer seems like an obvious decision to me. The flavor is pure watermelon candy. If you've ever eaten anything that's watermelon flavored (like the immensely interesting yet ultimately gross watermelon Oreos) then you know what flavor to expect here. My stomach isn't exactly thrilled right now either, so again, I may just be getting older, or there might be something off about this new batch of Pop-Tarts. Still, I'm happy with my purchase. If you love Pop-Tarts and watermelon candy, I definitely recommend.

the color doesn't quite translate, but trust me. In person, it's other-worldly. 

the color doesn't quite translate, but trust me. In person, it's other-worldly. 

Truth be told, I haven't dug into this particular box of Orange Crush Pop-Tarts yet. I just ate a package of the watermelon ones, and I don't have a death wish. But I did polish off an entire box of them earlier this year, so I can definitely tell you that THESE THINGS ARE AWESOME. Now, other (read: sane) people will tell you that these things are gross. That the ominous orange glow should be a warning sign, and any food that glows brighter than your computer screen probably isn't a nutritious part of a balanced breakfast. I say, don't eat them at breakfast then. These things taste like if a can of Orange Crush joined forces with a creamsicle and a Pop-Tart. First, the intensely bright filling tastes like Orange Crush jelly. If that sounds like horror to you, you're reading the wrong article. Then you have the bland, tasteless crust of a Pop-Tart wrapped around it. And to top it all off, you have the vanilla plastic, I mean frosting, smeared all over it. Complete with glowing orange swirly line! Yes, by most logic these things should be outlawed, or at the very least rounded up and jettisoned into the sun, but my taste buds are so very happy that they're legal. If you like to live on the wild side, or if you've ever tried to make a soda sandwich for some reason, go get these things before someone comes to their senses and they're gone forever.

So go get yourself some Pop-Tarts!