I was in the grocery store the other day, absent-mindedly riding on the back wheels of my cart like a child when I laid my eyes on something that seemed too sinister, too eldritch, too grotesque to be true.
Move over, Wild Berry and other flavors that people actually want: the Watermelon Pop-Tart is here to fill you with dread. As soon as my eyes locked on the juxtaposition of the out-of-season fruit slice with the dry pastry that’s supposed to be its heir, I knew I had to buy them and eat them to see if I hated them.
I haven’t ever written a food review before, so I adapted some of the guidelines from this totally legit how-to article and sat down with two slabs of cold, cold fruit tart. (Some people toast Pop-Tarts, but I’m not that much of a masochist…at least not yet. Also, my parents just got a brand new toaster the day before, and I didn’t want it cursed.)
Background: Pop-Tarts are, according to Wikipedia, “rectangular, pre-baked, convenience food toaster pastries” which is a lot of words for saying “not to be consumed by any self-respecting adult.” They’re breakfast for people who don’t have time to eat breakfast, or to care about their own well-being. The Watermelon flavor is one of five being rolled out in the coming months, alongside slightly-more logical flavors Chocolate Caramel and Maple Bacon.
Presentation: As you’ve no doubt noted yourself just by glancing at the above photo, this particular Pop-Tart doesn’t look as appealing as it does on the box. They’re dried-with fading colors, as if they had seen better days, or been forced to eat Watermelon Pop-Tarts too. The decision to invert a watermelon’s actual colors and make pink the dominant trait just further drives home the point that what you’re eating is a perversion of fruit rather than the genuine article.
You’ll also notice that the box says this particular flavor is “Limited Edition,” a marketing ploy meant to reel in people like me who don’t want to have that nagging question “but what if grape ginger-ale is actually good?!” bothering them on their deathbeds. They have been given this temporary sentence in our world for good reason.
Taste: When I opened the package, my very first thought was that they smelled a little too sweet but not at all different from the typical artificial-watermelon flavor found in every brand of candy there is. And then my second thought was, “Since when did Pop-Tarts smell like anything?” Indeed, there are strange emanations originating from these tarts however you look at it.
Taking the big bite in, that same uninspired watermelon-candy smell proved to be the most dominant flavor. The most interesting thing about it is that it doesn’t even particularly taste like watermelon, which is just rather bland and a little sweet–not at all sour like these would suggest. Of course, expecting a Pop-Tart to be anything but a bastardization of nature is a folly on my part, but the brand has never outright tasted like a Ring-Pop until now.
Texture: Being like any other Pop-Tart, the Watermelon variety crumbles into a billion little pieces when you drop it onto your plate. It’s a miracle these things survive packaging or shipping without disintegrating entirely. In the mouth, the bits and pieces rapidly become soggy and mush together to take on their final form: flavorless paste. It is the destiny of all Pop-Tarts and one they fulfill with enthusiasm.
Intentions: I have no idea what a pastry’s intentions would be, but Kellogg’s is certainly to make a lot of money. They’re one of the biggest players in breakfast for a reason, and even though they are barely food, the Pop-Tart brand is a tried and true winner for schoolkids and stoned college students. I suspect they wanted to get in on the novelty food gimmick of constantly rolling out new flavors to attract curiosity buys from weirdos like me. The fact that a summer-food like this rolls out in the dead whispers of winter is just another gentle, mocking chuckle from Big Breakfast.
Overall: Watermelon Pop-Tarts are not as offensively bad as I would have hoped, but they’re certainly not very good by any standard. If you want dusty and fruit-esque, you’re in luck; otherwise, these are just a mediocre filler food to scarf down two minutes before class and tide yourself over with.