Yes, I am ashamed.
I may outwardly appear to be a Pop-Tarts connoisseur—you know, the kind of pastry-pushing snob who considers Limited Edition Milk Chocolate Graham to be the best flavor, while simultaneously pushing boxes of Toaster Strudel to the back of the freezer case out of petty vengeance. But to my best recollection, I can’t recall ever trying Strawberry Milkshake Pop-Tarts when the were first released and discontinued in 2005.
Either that, or they were so mind-meltingly good that my memory of them has been washed away in a rose-tinted sea of fruity brain fog.
But regardless of my sin against toaster pastry fandom, Strawberry Milkshakes were a cult favorite, so much so that Kellogg’s has brought them back, alongside Vanilla Milkshake (another Ice Cream Shoppe classic) for 2017.
So as usual, I’ve got one sitting plain, one in the toaster, and one in the freezer. But this time, I’m ready for that first bite of faux-lactose pastry to open my third stomach (I lent the second one to a cow in need) and flood in memories of past milkshakes eaten during my past lives—perhaps I was once a oil baron?
Pardon the cracks: perhaps it was a metaphor for my uncontainable excitement, but all of my Strawberry Milkshake Pop-Tarts curiously fissured, revealing tempting hints of the precious pink ore that lies beneath.
But before I mine those particular depths, I need to talk about how well the iconic Pop-Tart crust works here. While in other Tarts it works like a neutral puff pastry base, here its buttery golden flour—when paired with the thickly sugared icing—evokes an ice cream cake cone, enrobing the goo inside in a delicately wafered neutral sweetness.
It’s about time someone started serving milkshakes in edible glasses. Wonka’s patent has to have expired by now, right?
Speaking of the filling: holy (frozen) cow (juice), it’s good. It looks just like Pepto-Bismol, and it’s just as good at curing an upset stomach. This tummy-delighting Strawberry Milkshake Pop-Tart crust, to use a perfect but obscure analogy, tastes just like a Strawberry Creme Saver, which have been tragically discontinued from this earthly plane for being too heavenly tasty.
But for the children and those who haven’t had their souls (creme) saved by such a classic candy, I’ll describe the filling more modernly. It’s a mix of candied artificial strawberry and milky cream, with emphasis on the latter. Like an artisan Pink Starburst drowned in cultured whipped cream, it’s yogurty and sometimes cloyingly sweet and fake—especially for those accustomed to regular Strawberry Pop-Tarts jellied fruit filling, which compared to Strawberry Milkshake’s tastes so real you’d think Kellogg’s plucked it fresh off a Pop-Tart bush.
Toasting Strawberry Milkshake Pop-Tarts isn’t bad, but like melted ice cream, it just tastes like a wasted opportunity. The caramelized and golden browned crust makes it taste kind of like a strawberry short cake, but a lot of the pleasantly buttered and creamy nuances are lost in the scalding inferno.
Worse yet, my already-cracked Tart fragilely crumbled in the toaster, so badly that instead of dangerously fishing the thing out like the bread basket in Operation, I had to turn the appliance on end and dump the pastry onto my plate, along with half a million mummified toast crumbs.
Freezing is a much better choice. With normal Pop-Tarts, you have to find which ones are worth freezing through sheer experimentation and word of mouth—it’s like the toaster pastry equivalent of McDonald’s secret menu (I highly recommend their grilled cheese). But Strawberry Milkshake Pop-Tarts explicitly recommend freezing right on the box, so aggressively that I expected a foil-wrapped gremlin to pop out and punish me if I disobeyed.
But it’s an order worth obeying. Cold-treated, Strawberry Milkshake Pop-Tarts are creamier and fake-strawberrier than ever. It really is like eating a thick, albeit artificial, milkshake—though strawberry mochi might be a closer textural analogue. Highly recommended, especially since at this time of the year I can skip the freezer and just shove a package into one of my copious backyard snowbanks.
Life hack: if you conveniently “forget” one there, you’ll have a tasty surprise come winter!
Strawberry Milkshake Pop-Tarts are fantastic, if a little sweet, but I’m glad they’re back. While I almost always gravitate toward chocolate or dessert Pop-Tarts over the fruity ones, Strawberry Milkshake strikes a brilliantly novel blend between the two that simultaneously lets me wax nostalgic for one of my favorite old candies.
But hey, if Strawberry Milkshake Pop-Tarts can come back, maybe Creme Savers can escape cryo-storage, too…and bring Oreo Cakesters, while they’re at it. ☻
The Bowl: Kellogg’s 2017 Strawberry Milkshake Pop-Tarts
The Breakdown: A tantalizing blend of classic “pink candy” fruit flavor and buttery dairy, these cone-wrapped Tarts are easily the best ones of the year (2005 and 2017). Just pace yourself, though: the sweetness hits harder than Vincent Vega on the dance floor.
The Bottom Line: 9.5 McGrilled Cheese Pop-Tarts out of 10