Sunday, September 9, 2012

Pop-Tarts

As promised, for this post we compared Kellogg's Pop-Tarts (our favorite flavor, Frosted Cherry, to be exact), to the Great Value Frosted Cherry Toaster Pastries. So obviously, since we only compared one flavor, opinions may differ from flavor to flavor. Hopefully this will give you a general idea though about how the pastry part of each compares.

Price: Pop-tarts cost 50% more than Great Value Toaster Pastries. Our highest difference yet! Is the difference worth switching to the generic though? Keep reading to find out...


Ingredients:

Pop-Tarts: enriched flour (wheat flour, niacin, reduced iron, thiamin mononitrate (vitamin B1), riboflavin (vitamin B2), folic acid), corn syrup, high fructose corn syrup, dextrose, soybean and palm oil (with TBHQ for freshness), sugar, cracker meal, contains 2% or less of wheat starch, salt, dried cherries, dried apples, leavening (baking soda, sodium acid pyrophosphate, monocalcium phosphate), citric acid, gelatin, modified wheat starch, caramel color, xanthan gum, soy lecithin, calcium stearate, vitamin A palmitate, red #40, niacinamide, reduced iron, natural flavor, red #40 lake, pyridoxine hydrochloride (vitamin B6), yellow #6, carnauba wax, riboflavin (vitamin B2), thiamin hydrochloride (vitamin B1), confectioner's glaze, folic acid, blue #1.

Great Value Toaster Pastries: enriched wheat flour (contains: niacin, iron, thiamin mononitrate (vitamin B1), riboflavin (vitamin B2), folic acid), corn syrup, sugar, high fructose corn syrup, palm and/or partially hydrogenated soybean oils, fruit from concentrate (white grape, cherry), whey, glycerine, modified cornstarch, precooked corn meal, salt, leavening (sodium aluminum phosphate, baking soda), citric acid, natural and artificial flavor, potassium sorbate (a preservative), gelatin, color added (includes red 40), modified soy protein, vitamin A palmitate, reduced iron, niacinamide, pyridoxine hydrochloride (vitamin B6), riboflavin (vitamin B2), thiamin mononitrate (vitamin B1), folic acid.

Okay this is scary... Pop-tarts contain not one, not two, not three, but FOUR different types of sugar/sweetener. FOUR!! And the GV pastries are almost as bad with three different sweeteners listed. Do you think they could get any more sugar in there??? Of course this doesn't mean we're going to stop eating them altogether. :) When you crave a Pop-tart (or toaster pastry, whichever you prefer), you crave a Pop-tart... just remember the old rule of everything in moderation! 

Calories/Nutritional Information: The nutritional information is virtually identical.  Both Pop-tarts and Great Value Toaster Pastries contain 200 calories, 5 grams of fat, 160 mg of sodium, 16 grams of sugar and 2 grams of protein per serving (which is one pastry - so if you eat both Pop-tarts/toaster pastries in the package that's 400 calories and 10 grams of fat - yikes!). Pop-tarts have 38 grams of carbohydrates, while the Great Value brand lists 37 grams of carbohydrates, and the GV pastries also list 60 mg of potassium (GV brand products seem to list potassium as a standard procedure while other brands do not). Both the Pop-tarts and toaster pastries also contain the following RDVs of the following vitamins: vitamin A 10%, iron 10%, thiamin 10%, riboflavin 10%, niacin 10%, vitamin B6 10%, folic acid 10%.

Appearance: We thought a lot of pictures would be helpful in explaining the differences we saw in these. In general, as you can see below, the GV pastry was skimpier on the icing and the filling. The thickness of the filling layer (and the pastry overall) was the same (see second and third pictures) but the filling in the Pop-tart went closer to all the edges, while the GV pastry filling stopped well short of the edge (see last three pictures), leaving a lot of floury pastry with no filling. Also the filling in the GV pastry appeared to have a more gel-like texture/consistency (it's shinier and more sticky), while the Pop-tart's filling was a little thicker/more paste-like. Oh and it's kind of funny to compare these pictures to the pictures of the pastries on the boxes they come in. There's a lot of artistic license taken on the boxes!

GV vs. Pop-tart

GV vs. Pop-tart


GV pastry on the left, Pop-tart on the right - GV pastry has less cherry filling, more pastry
 
GV toaster pastry filling
  
Pop-tart filling
Texture/the chew test: As you can see from the pictures above, the GV pastry has more pastry and less filling. This wasn't a good thing in our opinion. The pastry part of the GV version became more sticky/gummy/pasty while chewing it. It's not uncommon for pastry or bread products to gets a little pasty and sticky when you chew them, of course, but the GV pastry took on a significantly more pasty or gummy texture while eating it than the Pop-tart, which we didn't really like.

Taste: We tested these both un-heated (how we usually eat them - like a cookie - since that's basically what they are, right?) and heated in the microwave (we're not a fan of toasting). On the pastry part, the GV pastry was more floury while the Pop-tart pastry tasted more wheat-y (the difference reminded us of eating a hearty multi-grain bread (the Pop-tart) vs. white bread (the GV pastry)). On the filling, the GV filling was a little sweeter and tasted more like fake-cherry flavoring, while the Pop-tart filling was more tart and tasted more like actual cherries.

Bottom line: Even though Pop-tarts are significantly more expensive, we're fans of Pop-tarts, so we're going to stick with the name brand version when the craving strikes us. If you like Pop-tarts, the GV toaster pastry just isn't going to cut it.

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