First-world taste test
Feb. 9, 2018
by Ivan Raconteur

There are some things that could only happen in the US.

I discovered one of them in the form of a taste test conducted by Food & Wine.

A link to the results was posted on Twitter.

The researchers were tasked with answering which of 21 flavors of Pop-Tarts was the best tasting.

I hadn’t given the matter much thought before, but I was surprised there are that many flavors of Pop-Tarts available.

Even by US standards, that seems like a lot of variety in toaster pastries.

It seemed a little silly to evaluate something that has the nutritional value of a handful of cookies.

I checked this online, and it appears that nutritionally speaking, tarts are not that different from a serving of three Oreo cookies.

One strawberry Pop-Tart contains 200 calories and 5 grams of fat, compared to 160 calories and 7 grams of fat for the cookies.

The tart has 170 mg. of sodium, compared to 160 mg. for the cookies.

The tart has 17 grams of sugars, compared to 14 grams for the cookies.

The Pop-Tart has 2 grams of protein, and the cookies have 1 gram.

As a bonus, the tarts have a smattering of artificially-added vitamins and other elements, about 10 percent of the recommended daily allowance.

I have purchased Pop-Tarts in the past. On those occasions, I found them pleasant enough, and they were definitely convenient.

Even so, I never kidded myself that the tasty tarts constituted a sensible, balanced breakfast.

I would put them in the same category as those packets of flavored oatmeal.

Sure, oatmeal is supposed to be good for us, but if we buy the pre-packaged stuff loaded with sugar and other substances, it may not be any better than a jam donut.

The same applies to granola bars.

They may be perceived as nutritious, but if the manufacturers add a boatload of sugar and dip them in chocolate, the health benefits probably decrease.

When it came to the actual taste testing for Pop-Tarts, there were some flavors the judges evaluated that don’t appeal to me at all.

Jolly Rancher Cherry, for example, is a tart I would never buy.

On the other hand, Strawberry Milkshake sounded interesting, especially when the author pointed out the versatility of tarts. They can be enjoyed plain, heated, or, as in the case of the strawberry milkshake, chilled in the freezer.

The judges’ comments reflected the range of perceptions about the product.

My favorite comment, pertaining to Cinnamon Roll Pop-Tarts, was “Tastes like real food.” This suggests the bar is not set very high when judging tarts.

On the negative side, one judge said the Vanilla Latte flavor tasted “Like a gas station cappuccino.”

I can’t say I have tasted gas station cappuccino, and I don’t think I want to.

In a world where too many people face a daily struggle to find enough food to survive, we live in a country where we have the luxury of comparing the relative merits of artificially-flavored tarts.

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