In five seconds, I thought of three candy flavors I would’ve expected to exist before a Jolly Rancher Pop-Tart ever touched my tongue—let alone three Jolly Rancher Pop-Tarts. Heck, if you asked me last year, even more obscure candies like 100 Grand or Whoppers Pop-Tarts would’ve had a 100,000% higher likelihood of existing than Cherry Jolly Rancher Pop-Tarts.
(The only thing less likely would’ve been Circus Peanut Pop-Tarts)
Yet here I am, eating my ∞th iridescent Pop-Tart this week. I’m not mad that Jolly Rancher Pop-Tarts—a line that also includes Green Apple and Watermelon—exist, I’m just surprised. I might as well make the most of the most of these Tarts’ limited edition existence—with something this cosmically wacky, the toaster pastry gods could revoke their existential right at any moment—by reviewing them all in a week. It’s like they say: when life gives you cherry pastries colored redder than bloody murder, make some sort of -ade that belongs in an elevator at the Overlook Hotel.
And besides, if I really want a “traditional” candy bar Pop-Tart, I could just throw a Snickers into a panini press and make my own.
A Frosted Cherry Jolly Rancher Pop-Tart looks like Dracula’s shag carpet, and its taste is just as gaudy. I can’t recall the last time I’ve actually consumed a cherry Jolly Rancher—blue raspberry has been, forever and always, my main squeeze (or would “main suck” be more accurate?)—but this Pop-Tart’s taste is, undoubtedly, uncannily accurate. To best explain it, I’m gonna need you to close your eyes. Now imagine a sassy Swedish Fish: the kind of cheeky carp who struts around the school in bold red lipstick and, ironically, fishnets, while making wisecracks about the pufferfish’s weight.
That’s what Cherry Jolly Rancher Pop-Tarts taste like.
Okay, in well-adjusted person-speak, they’re like souped-up regular Cherry Pop-Tarts with a puckered-up tang and a gummed-up pectin finish. Cherry is less taste bud-battering than a Green Apple Jolly Rancher Pop-Tart, but it shares its evergreen brother’s fatal flaw: obfuscating the crusty goodness that makes a Pop-Tart a Pop-Tart, in this case with a hyper-potent, über-sweet, and aggressively red fake fruit flavor.
As someone who used to be a vehemently anti-crust child—everything from PB&Js to pizza slices had to be de-crusted—I never would have pictured my adult self defending the stuff. But every Pop-Tart’s golden-buttered, flakily floured, puff pastry exoskeleton deserves to shine like a yeasted diamond. And for that reason, I can’t forgive your crime, Cherry Jolly Rancher Pop-Tart.
May the toaster’s searing gaze have mercy on your soul.
Spoiler: the appliance’s glowing eye has no pity. Unlike with Green Apple, toasting somehow makes Cherry Jolly Rancher Pop-Tarts worse. Roughly resembling the Rolling Stones logo, my cartoonish red lava pastry lost its interestingly tangy juiciness. What remained after the toaster’s wrath was some diluted cherry sweetness inside a crisp and lightly buttered, yet blandly defeated pastry shell. In short, it tasted like a wonton wrapper dipped in hot Kool-Aid instead of sweet & sour.
Things may sound direly far from cheery, but in a third act twist that would shock Shyamalan, freezing Cherry Jolly Rancher Pop-Tarts makes them considerably more pleasant. Seriously: they taste exactly like red Popsicles—the best kind—just chewier, less offensive to sensitive teeth, and without any sticky balsa wood sticks bearing awful jokes. The cooled cherry filling becomes creamy with a balanced sweet—tang factor, and the crust regains some of its buttered luster.
I won’t say that this miracle on ice entirely redeems Cherry Jolly Rancher Pop-Tarts, since I still can’t see myself regularly eating these anywhere but beside a shimmering body of water, but this delightful pop of flavor saves it from being Pop-Tarts’ most forgettable flavor since, uh, what was that one called again? You know, the one no one remembers?
In the end, Cherry Jolly Rancher Pop-Tarts are overshadowed by Green Apple. Both are fun novelties, but Cherry is ultimately superseded by plain ol’ Cherry Pop-Tarts—which are far more palatable, snackable, and lunchbox-able—while Green Apple is in an orchard of its own. Those still mourning the loss of discontinued Wildlicious Wild! Cherry Pop-Tarts and their intrusive exclamation point will be all over these Jolly Rancher Tarts, but the rest of us are better off, well, cramming Swedish Fish into a George Foreman Grill.
Oh, it was Vanilla Milkshake! That’s the Pop-Tart everyone forgets!
The “Bowl:” Kellogg’s Frosted Cherry Jolly Rancher Pop-Tarts
The Breakdown: A cloyingly amped-up, crust-obfuscating version of an already delightful Pop-Tart flavor, Cherry Jolly Rancher Pop-Tarts are a dish best served cold, as their suckiness becomes actually suckable.
The Bottom Line: 5.5 gummy pastries out of 10
(Quick Nutrition Facts: 200 calories, less than 1 gram of fiber, 16 grams of sugar, and 2 grams of protein per 1 pastry serving)