DAY 13: "The Pop-Tart tasted like freedom" (and pumpkin)

I would like to begin today by wishing everyone a very happy and spooky Friday the 13th.
Through 12 reviews, I have touched quite a bit on nostalgia. More specifically, how retailers leverage nostalgia to promote pumpkin versions of classic products during the Fall. While some of these items work well, others miss the mark. Even so, when one is successful, it opens the door for more and more to be pumpkinized.
Today's item falls into that category.
DAY 13: "The Pop-Tart tasted like freedom" (and pumpkin)
Item: Trader Joe’s Organic Pumpkin Toaster Pastries
Cost: $2.49
Purchase Location: Trader Joe’s
Manufacturer's Description:
“Warm and fresh out of the toaster, they'll certainly remind you of hot pumpkin pie, spiked with nutmeg and cinnamon.  They're excellent for breakfast on the go, and also as a quick and easy afternoon snack, whether or not there's a toaster at the ready.  They're wrapped in packs of two, so you can keep them in a desk drawer, briefcase or backpack, and always have a spare in case you’re inclined to share the pumpkin-y goodness.”
I feel like my story is one that is pretty common for households across America: Parents usually averse to sugary breakfasts, making the exception for Pop-Tarts on special occasions. (On a side note: as an unabashed member of Pinterest, I would recommend browsing the countless recipes available for homemade versions with interesting flavor combinations)
 
They are so culturally significant that Kellogg’s transformed its Times Square restaurant into a dedicated Pop-Tart Cafe this past February, drawing scores of visitors. In case you missed it, menu items included Pop-Tart fries, Pop-Tart nachos, and Pop-Tart burritos (all sweet). [Fun fact: the restaurant was curated by my all-time favorite celebrity chef, Christina Tosi, of Momofuku Milk Bar fame]

It made sense that there would be multiple pumpkin iterations of this childhood treat available during this season. Unfortunately, I can’t eat the official Pop-Tart version due to dietary restrictions. But I was happy to make up for that with the Trader Joe’s offering. By now, I've realized how well Trader Joe's does this flavor, so I had pretty high expectations going in.

Opening the package, I noticed that the pastries seemed to be a little bit heavier (weight wise) than the ones that I am used to, with slightly less icing. There was no smell of pumpkin or pumpkin spices right away, but they came through during cooking. Taking the pastries out of the toaster, I was surprised to find that the icing had melted and stuck to the grill. In the future, I’ll probably use the toaster oven instead.

Before biting in, I tried the icing by itself. I'm not sure what the exact flavor is, but it was sweetened and had a bit of spice to it. With a lot of the pumpkin products that I have tried, the icing tends to be overly sweet, but this was done well.

Taking a bite, the dough of the pastry was great. It was sweet, nicely flavored, and tasted just like pie crust. It was not overly dense or dry, and is leaps and bounds ahead of regular Pop-Tart shells. It didn’t immediately crumble, which improved the texture of the bite. (Bonus: reduced crumbs/mess)

I split the pastry in two to get to the middle section with the most filling. Biting in, it was outstanding. The texture is smooth and it tastes just like pumpkin pie. It’s not overly sweet (sweetened with real sugar, molasses, and honey) and the spices pop. But make no mistake, pumpkin is still the central flavor here. Also, as expected, TJ's made this with real pumpkin!
 
Overall, these pastries are really good. The filling and the icing are rich and very flavorful. The pastry shell is on-point, and even has a slight chewiness to it. (Reading the ingredient list, it looks like TJ’s went with whole wheat for the dough!)
 
However, I do have one complaint. The ratio between the dough and the filling is really uneven and there is much more dough than filling. With the second pastry (when I didn’t split it in half to get to the middle), I noticed it took me two tries to get a full bite of pumpkin filling. I also noticed that the amount of dough kind of swallowed up the rest of the flavors. It’s really a shame because the filling is so good.

This was close to being a five pumpkin rating, but the dough/filling ratio cost it a pumpkin.
Final Rating: 4/5 Pumpkins.

PS. If the title needs explaining:




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