As a child clinging to the metal bars of the shopping cart at the grocery store, there were a few key “breakfast” items that I would sneak into the cart when my father wasn’t looking. NutriGrain Breakfast bars, essentially Fig Newtons but bigger, usually made the cut. Peanut butter-flavored Kudos bars, which were basically candy bars for the morning time, passed muster. But Pop-Tarts, S’mores specifically, were the real get—a delicious breakfast item that remains unimpeachable to this day.
A Pop-Tart is a thing of wonder—a flattened hand pie meant to be tucked into a child’s knapsack and consumed at their leisure. Toasted in a toaster is the traditional preparation, but I’ve always enjoyed the Pop-Tart eaten as is, straight from the plastic. Toasting the Tart enhances the experience a little, but one runs the risk of burning the roof of the mouth, as the goo inside transforms from glop to hot magma. For an experience as enjoyable as consuming a Pop-Tart, the rewards do not outweigh the risks, and so I now enjoy my Pop-Tarts in my preferred flavor and temperature with the freedom adulthood affords. That temperature, as stated, is fresh out the box, and the flavor, S’mores. It’s the best flavor of Pop-Tart and I refuse to hear otherwise.
Detractors will gnash their teeth and say that a regular S’mores is better than the Pop-Tart, but I must say they’re wrong. S’mores are messy, and often, too chocolate-forward, with not enough graham cracker or marshmallow to make up for the too-sweet glop of the Hershey’s square, which never fully melts in the way it should. A S’mores Pop-Tart packages the campfire experience neatly and efficiently and tastes just enough like candy to feel vaguely transgressive. That is its appeal to children, obviously, but also to gluttonous adults who are revisiting their childhood via snacks instead of inner child therapy.
I’m aware that there are a wide variety of other Pop-Tart flavors, and I’ve sampled a fair amount: the frosted strawberry iteration is a close second. But the ingenuity of the S’mores Tart gives it a leg up over the competition. Besides, a strawberry or blueberry Pop-Tart is too close to actual breakfast—jam on toast—and therefore lacks the frisson of rebellion a S’mores Pop-Tart has in spades. Surely there’s a terrible metaphor to be made about how eating a S’mores Pop-Tart is a decent proxy for the real act of making S’mores in times of social distancing and the global pandemic, but I’d set that pap aside for facts: S’mores Pop-Tarts are good. That’s all you need to know.