The Finest of the Flavors

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The Barenaked Ladies would have you believe it’s vanilla. Image courtesy of

While home over Thanksgiving break I spent most of my time enjoying the GilMORE The Merrier Marathon on UP-tv.  I never watch Up-tv due to my hatred of its very quasi-religious hyper Christmas programming. But I do love the Gilmore Girls, so I put up with the horrendous commercials adverting horrible movie after another.  The editing out of words made for entertaining viewing, turning normal tame situations into R rated ones all in the name of “family friendly.”  I mean the show originally aired on network television, it’s already pretty well edited for content.

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That could’ve been why the WB failed. Content that was too perfectly edited. Or maybe it was Michigan J. Frog embezzling the pension fund. Image courtesy of Youtube.

During a watching of a familiar episode from season six, Lorelei sets out breakfast for the work crew who had been fixing up her house.  As she pours coffee she announces that they have run out of the brown sugar pop tarts to which the crew of 6-7 people groans in displeasure.  Lorelei mentions that they have “been playing favorites all week,” referring to the empty box of brown sugar pop tarts.  Shredded Wheat cereal is then suggested as an alternative since there are no more brown sugar pop tarts.  While she says this, a box of the same size of strawberry pop tarts sits next to the brown sugar seemingly untouched.  Thus suggesting that the brown sugar pop tarts are infinitely more popular than the strawberry.  This completely blew my mind.

Even the dog can’t believe that the brown sugar and cinnamon pop tarts are gone. Image courtesy Netflix.

My entire life if I was enjoying a pop tart it was a strawberry frosted one, nothing else really interested me of the other flavors.  I remember being 4 years old at day care and somehow I was allowed to have one, the way the colorful dots rested on the frosting called out to me before I had ever tasted one.  Aside from a rebellious few years in middle school where I switched to Hot Fudge Sundae pop tarts I hadn’t strayed from strawberry frosted.

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Hot Fudge Sundae Pop Tarts are the Avril Lavigne of Pop Tarts. Image courtesy of Amazon.

How foolish I feel looking back on those days when I thought I could change the world.  But eventually I matured and went back to my strong and steady strawberry frosted.  So how could a pop tart that shares the same flavor as oatmeal be more popular than my favorite pop tart?  Was there something I was missing?  Had no one, not one caring adult ever taken the time to teach me what it really means to enjoy a pop tart?

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No one taught me right pop tart from wrong pop tart. Image courtesy of Children’s Health.

I decided I had to try one for myself.  I’d be lying if I said I wasn’t scared, my entire identity was based around the fact that I was a strawberry frosted man.  And suddenly it was all called into question in one moment.  For 20 some odd years I had this image in my head of the perfect pop tart, and if I was wrong about this, then my God what else have I been wrong about?

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Where else have I gone wrong in my life. Image courtesy of Medical News Today.

I decided for my first tasting of the brown sugar and cinnamon pop tart I should toast it.  It was the only fair way to do this.  I pressed the button down and stared upon the pop tart until it started to bend and round and brown and then I released it upward.  Here was the moment of truth.

I loved it.  It was amazing.  It tasted almost like a cinnamon roll or a wonderful bowl of oatmeal, the kind I used to enjoy on many mornings.  I had found a new favorite, or possibly second favorite.

Maybe I liked it because I knew it was wrong.  It made me feel so bad, but sometimes that’s part of the fun.  I wondered what other pop tart flavors I had been missing out on, what wondrous fruits of life had passed me by while I sat thinking I knew it all.  I decided I would no longer be a plain Jane, I needed to live, to bathe in the miracle of the pop and the tart, to dance with the flavors and to feel alive.

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Pop and Tart seen here on season 15 of Dancing with the Stars. Image courtesy of TV Line.

I searched the World Wide Web to find what other flavors had eluded me all these years, and to seek out my vengeance on any breakfast treat who would stand in my way and proclaim I was wrong.  Because I wasn’t.  For the first time I was right.

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Could it be real? Image Courtesy Today Show.

The first flavor to come across my computer screen excited and saddened me at the same time.  Hidden Valley Ranch flavored pop tarts.  Maybe it was a limited time item that I missed out upon, in my strawberry frosted chastity.  I hoped this was still available as I searched the internet far and wide for any information about this curious treat.

Pastry parody: Pop-Tarts says no to collaboration with Hidden Valley Ranch
Pop Tarts immediately put an end to this wonderful idea. Image courtesy KCTV5.

After my fact finding mission I found out it was fake, someone had just edited a picture online, but it looked so real.  I also found many other fake flavors such as asphalt and Windex.  But in my searching for the ranch dressing pop tarts I found a tweet that would both disgust and challenge me at the same time.

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Image courtesy Pinterest.DK
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Image courtesy Reddit.

Well there may be no ranch dressing pop tarts, some people dip theirs in the dressing. If that’s what they do in Oklahoma then I guess its good enough for me.  So I grabbed half a pop tart and slid it into a zip lock bag.  Having never tried pop tarts dipped in ranch I felt it was a safe bet I didn’t need an entire pop tart for this.  I slunk into the Simon Center café and asked for a sauce cup and lid.

I don’t remember this from Rogers & Hammerstein. Image courtesy Snopes.

Three pumps seemed to be enough.  I made sure to cover the container in napkins lest anyone wonder why I would carry a cup of ranch dressing with no food in sight into the second floor of the library.  I let it sit on the back corner of the desk, covered in napkins trying to strike up the nerve to not only try it but risk being seen dipping a pop tart into ranch dressing.

Finally, with midnight and the closing of the library approaching I needed to make this happen.  I looked around nervously, I did not want to carry this ranch dressing back out of the library, it was now or never.

I took a bite of the strawberry frosted pop tart with no ranch.  Delicious, like always.  I popped the lid off of the container.  Took another look around, and dipped it.  Not terrible, definitely very tangy but not so bad.  Then I dunked it, I leapt before I looked and it was awful.  It was so sour my eyes twitched.  I don’t know if that’s because the ranch dressing was warm, or if it was because I had just committed a crime against nature, but this was just wrong.  I probably committed some kind of hate crime against breakfast pastries and for that I sincerely apologize.  I had been like Icarus and now the warm sour ranch dressing had brought me back down to earth.

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I’m pretty sure there was ranch dressing in Greek mythology. Image courtesy Saatchi Art.

I hurriedly put the sauce and the pop tart along with the napkins in the zip lock bag and disposed of the whole abomination in a plastic shopping bag.

Maybe the problem is I that I tried the wrong flavor with the sauce.  I guess I could always try all of the pop tart flavors with ranch dressing…

Apparently Oklahoma is not alone in having “special state” ways of enjoying pop tarts.  According to the internet some people in Arizona prefer theirs with ketchup.

This is how the late Senator McCain enjoyed his breakfast pastries. Image courtesy of Business Insider, yes really.

Those in the Hawkeye state enjoy theirs grilled cheese style.

Image courtesy Know Your Meme.

Some in Illinois prefer pop tarts with mustard.

skrrrt god @adumsteeves Follow You guys aint from lllinois if you dont put mustard on your poptarts Visit n 1 PASTRY LIMITED EDITION alts DUNKIN DONUTS VANILLA LA NATURALLY&ARTFICALLY 8 % MORE THAN OUR 1402 nch's Junk food
The real reason why the Cubs and White Sox had collective title droughts of 196 years. Image courtesy of Know Your Meme.

The real question is how do New Hampshirites put their own spin on pop tarts?  With Russian dressing having been invented in Nashua, it seems only right that the New Hampshire way should have the pop tart crumbled into small pieces and dropped into a bowl of Russian dressing to be eaten soup style, with the broken up pop tart to serve as the oyster crackers in this soup of life.

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Nothing like a big bowl of Russian dressing to help you start your day on a cold New Hampshire morning. Image courtesy of Striped Spatula.
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Max is a Senior at New England College majoring in Political Science and minoring in Creative Writing. He is from Upstate New York. This is his second semester writing for The New Englander. Contrary to many reports, he is not Professor Homestead’s brother. Max is a huge Yankees and Giants fan, and is currently on a quest to go to all 30 MLB Stadiums. He writes most things, from the mundane to the nonsensical, including opinion pieces. Max also writes a column, The Scallion, which is his version of the popular satire website The Onion. Regardless of what you may have heard he does not bring the problems from the 90’s into 2 thou’.
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