Extremely important and comprehensive food review: Pillsbury Toaster Strudel vs. Pop-tart. Two pastries go in the toaster, one comes out.
· Feb 24, 2023 · NottheBee.com

I recently wrote a piece about the growing competition between Pop-tarts and gourmet "pop-tart" competitors that are springing up in bakeries around the Washington DC area:

I rightfully concluded that the original still reigns supreme.

Unexpectedly, a vocal minority of commenters interjected that regardless, the Pillsbury Toaster Strudel was superior to the Pop-tart.

As we all know, to disagree with someone is literal violence.

I felt unsafe.

And a little full. Taste-testing toaster pastries is not for the weak of heart.

(Seriously, they aren't particularly good for your cardiovascular system.)

Still, wiping away the brown sugar cinnamon crumbs from my mouth, I reconsidered. Sure, the Toaster Strudel fans were clearly unhinged zealots feeling compelled to drop into a conversation about Pop-tarts to start ranting about icing and flakiness or something, like a crazed Star Wars fan crashing a conversation about which version of the USS Enterprise was the best to point out that akshually, the Imperial Star Destroyer was far superior.

And yet, I thought maybe I should check out the Toaster Strudel. The problem was, I couldn't find them. I couldn't even recall seeing one in the wild for as long as I could remember.

My wife was running to the grocery store so I asked her to see if she could find some for me.

This was the actual conversation when she got home:

Wife: I found your toaster things, I just hope I have room in the freezer for them.

Me: Thanks! Wait, what? The freezer?

Wife: Yes.

Me: They go in the freezer?!

Wife: Yes. Did I get the wrong ones?

Me: I don't know, but I'm starting to think I have no idea what Toaster Strudels are.

Sure enough, Toaster Strudels can only be found in the freezer section.

It's been at least 45 years since I had a Pillsbury Toaster Strudel. That said, I have fond, if obviously vague, memories of them.

But okay, they go in the freezer, and with that, we will begin the first round of our competition:


That Pillsbury Toaster Strudels needed to be kept frozen struck me as bizarre. It was like having to store Froot Loops in the refrigerator.

But, okay, Toaster Strudels are more delicate and have additional handling requirements.

Pop-tarts on the other hand are MIL-SPEC and do not require refrigeration of any kind. They barely require a box. They are largely impervious to the elements and quite possibly exist apart from time itself given their shelf life. This makes them a far superior choice for long-term storage.

Suitability for Surviving the Zombie Apocalypse.

WINNER: Pop-tart.

Next up, packaging.

While shelf-stable, Pop-tarts are sill lovingly encased in opaque light-blocking individual packets.

Toaster Strudels on the other hand are all carelessly shoved into a single flimsy cellophane package leaving uneaten portions at risk of absorbing the errant aromas of that fish you decided to freeze some time during the Obama administration which I have certainly never done at least not that you can prove.

Likelihood of not eventually smelling like tuna.

WINNER: Pop-tart.

What about ease of preparation?

Here is the two-step process necessary to prepare a Pop-tart:

Step 1: Remove from package.

Step 2: There is no step 2.

Okay, fine, if you want to get fancy, yes, you can toast them. They are, after all, toaster pastries. But that's optional, and some people prefer them untoasted.

How about our Toaster Strudel?

It's the Ikea of toaster pastries – some assembly required.

Step 1: Remove from package.

Step 2: Toast.

Step 3: Toast. (That's not a typo, you toast it "1 to 2 cycles.")

Step 4: Remove individual icing packets.

Step 5: Tear one off.

Step 6: Tear the top off.

Step 7: Place on Strudel.

Here is the full set, including separate instructions for the icing.

It is no contest. You want a DIY project, or do you want breakfast?

Ability to prepare while operating heavy machinery.

WINNER: Pop-tart.

How about appearance?

Both are… well...

I have remarked that the Pop-tart is… very beige. The Toaster Strudel is not much different.

Nothing wrong with the color beige, and really, where would commercial building interior decorators be without it? But I'm just going to call this a tie and leave it that.

Ability to blend in at a Rotary Club meeting in Duluth.


Next up, nutrition.

I should preface this section by saying that if nutrition is high on your list of breakfast choices, have a bowl of oatmeal and a banana.

That said, let's first take a look at the Pop-tart.

And now, the Toaster Strudel.

Numbers don't lie. The Toaster Strudel has fewer calories, more protein, fewer carbs and less sugar.

I'm afraid to say, it's no contest.

Keto friendly-ish sort of.

WINNER: Toaster Strudel.

How about ingredients? I had indicated in my last piece that the Pop-tart is a bit of a chemistry set, and there is some truth to that.

However, if the Pop-tart is a chemistry set, the Toaster Strudel is an entire laboratory. In fact, the only thing that would have made the train derailment in East Palestine worse would be if they were transporting Toaster Strudels.

While I'm sure some people are personally okay with liver enlargement, neurotoxic effects, convulsions, and paralysis while eating breakfast, I still think we have a clear winner here.

Least Likely to Embalm Your Internal Organs.

WINNER: Pop-tart.

One of the big purported advantages of the Toaster Strudel is its inclusion of individual icing packets. I loved that part as a child. Who wouldn't? Look at how delicious that looks!

Except that's not how it looks in real life.

This is real life:

This does not look like an iced strudel. This looks like a strudel I accidentally sneezed on.

The individual icing packets come in a string.

The problem is, when you separate them on the perforation, they usually tear open on the side.

Even when I finally got one off clean (it took me three tries), the opening on top was nothing like the picture on the package. This is what they advertise.

That looks like you could decorate your strudel with "Happy Birthday" if you wanted to, however in reality it looks like this.

Tearing it right at the slit they conveniently provide gives you big fat opening resulting in a gloppy mess.

Plus, it melts on contact with the hot strudel. Despite my best efforts, this turns out less like white icing and more like a glazed donut.

Hey, I like glazed donuts, but that's not what this is supposed to be.

Pop-tarts on the other hand, look exactly like they do on the package. I mean sure, they don't look all that great on the package, but at least it's honest.

Truthiness in advertising.

WINNER: Pop-tart.

Some have extolled the filling of the strudel vs. the Pop-tart, and while the strudel was more moist, they were a lot closer in texture when compared side-by-side.

Filling superiority.


What about taste? This is the big one, after all.

Strudels had been described to me as "flaky."

I assumed by "flaky" they meant, well, flaky, like the gourmet pop-tarts I tested last time.

That was not what the Toaster Strudel looks like. This is what it looks like.

This is not a flaky pastry. This is a sponge cake.

I didn't hate it, but I didn't like it, either, and in fact it's probably the most off-putting thing about them. I can deal with multi-part directions for assemblage and the icing that looks like you you need to dial down the decongestant and try an antihistamine, but spongy?

It did have a sort-of flakiness on the crispy outer-most layer, but that's more flake, not flaky.

Of course, the Pop-tart is not flaky either. Some might argue that this comes down to personal choice. However, one of those choices is wrong.

Pastry that doesn't make you wonder what the heck you are eating.

WINNER: Pop-tart.

Bottom line: The Toaster Strudel is the pastry with which you have a wild fling. Sure, it's great at first, exciting even, but there was never anything deeper there than that icing. Soon, you find yourself annoyed by the little things like the mess it makes on your hands and what's with this constant need to be kept below freezing? Soon you realize that the Toaster Strudel is a high-maintenance pastry, constantly demanding special treatment. Eventually you start to bicker over the little things, like why do these frosting packets keep tearing open at the seams and who had the remote last and why can't I ever find it when I need it? The game starts in five minutes, okay?!

In the end you part ways knowing it was never going to work long-term.

The Pop-tart on the other hand, the Pop-tart is the pastry you marry. Strong, resilient, yet still beautiful, there for you whether it's at the kitchen counter or right next to you in the console as you drive to work for that early morning shift. You settle down with the Pop-tart, start to plan to build a future together and before you know it, you have little tartlets.

There can only be one winner here, and that winner is the Pop-tart.

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