Halloween is about the little things.
Ask any full-blooded (or at least fake-blood-slathered) Halloween lover, and I’m sure most will agree. While haunted houses, parties, and handing out candy on The Big XXXI Day itself are the holiday’s main events, savoring little spooky moments is the key to feeling merrily macabre from the start of back-to-school season ’til the end of back-to-the-cardboard-box-ghouls-in my basement season.
These bite-sized boos can be anything—or anywhere. Glimpsing a well-loved plastic goblin in a thrift store. Marathoning all the Halloween movies and spending the next week fearing any mention of William Shatner. Camping out in a Spirit Halloween with an industrial carton of Whoppers and flipping through old Goosebumps books until the staff gets scared of you.
Or maybe it’s just eating one (or thirty one) of Kellogg’s “new” Halloween Chocolate Fudge Printed Fun Pop-Tarts. It’s long been a Pop-Tartian tradition to adorn their Chocolate Fudge flavor with full Hallo-regalia (why Chocolate Fudge, I don’t know—maybe because it’s pretty much a king-sized candy bar that’s socially acceptable to eat for breakfast?), but previous years have only seen this ghost-er pastry wearing orange frosting and crunchy sprinkle shapes.
But now Kellogg’s has beautifully spurned their sprinkled tradition in favor of something somehow even better: printed scary shapes on every neon orange-blasted, baked fudge rectangle! Drink that box art in for a minute while I grab the plates, glasses of milk, and altars to worship that top cartoon ghost at.
He looks like a spectral Pikachu tail.
My first spread of Halloween Pop-Tarts yielded
a bootleg Jeff Dunham puppet a mustachioed demon, an eerily de-shelled Pop-Tart, and a Frankenstein who must be stuck in 2007 because he’s still embarrassingly trying to imitate the Troll Face in public. Though speaking of the past, I wish these Pop-Tarts were around back when I was in middle school, so I could defiantly answer my guidance counsellor’s “what do you want to be when you grow up” questions with “He-Man’s breakfast nemesis: Skeletart.”
Oh well, I can still call grocery stores and ask if they carry “boneless Pop-Tarts” (I’ll save you my weighty thesis on this flavor’s weightier implications for Pop-Tart anatomy).
While the new designs are the main draw for Halloween Chocolate Fudge Printed Fun Pop-Tarts, I still have to put in a plug for the delightful flavor. People will likely be split on whether ditching sprinkles was a good idea or not, but personally I’m fine with losing the fun mini-crunchies and their textural contrast. I felt their one-note sweetness merely detracted from the vibrant fudginess below.
And boy is a great fudge flavor. When cocoa puff pastry crust and gooey filling meet, the result is the butteriest, milk chocolatiest fudge brownie flavor you can get on grocery shelves—at least without breeding an ice cream sandwich with one of those limited edition Brownie Batter Oreos and raising their child in a stasis vat of fortified Dutch chocolate milk.
So while Halloween Chocolate Fudge Pop-Tarts are delicious straight out of the package—if, perhaps, a little saccharinely challenging for faint-of-Tart sweet teeth) their pure and un-sprinkled fudge goodness takes on a different flavor profile when toasted. It loses a lot of that oiled ‘n’ eggy fudge brownie flavor, but after turning molten my own angrily oozing scalded icing spider and his bleeding filling developed the caramelized dark sugariness of a golden-baked chocolate lava cake with a dash of browned butter.
Okay, maybe it’s not that gourmet, and maybe toasted Halloween Pop-Tarts taste more like a microwaved Hostess Pudding Pie, but a little warmth will still go a long way for chocoholic purists who turn their cacao bean-shaped nostrils up at the all this newfangled “fudge” nonsense.
Since I love fudge (5 of my personal horcuxes are hidden on Mackinaw Islands), I prefer to eat my Halloween Chocolate Fudge Pop-Tarts frozen. It turns them into chewy double fudge chunk cookie dough quadrilaterals—Moose Track ice cream crammed into a breaded Fudgsicle shell, if you will. Sorry: these goofy Halloween faces are so innocently fun that they set my imagination stirring with obtuse snack food analogies.
By the end of the value-sized box (which I reached faster than a soon-to-be-sick trick-or-treater hits the bottom of their candy-filled pillow case), Halloween Printed Fun Chocolate Fudge Pop-Tarts are just that: fun. They don’t toy with any experimentally pumpkin-spiced Circus Peanut flavor, just classic candy bar taste, with designs so wholesome that I’d carve them if I didn’t have the dexterity of an electric eel wearing beer goggles. And oven mitts.
Oh well, at least they won’t melt in my own mitts like my traditional Halloween breakfast Snickers.
The “Bowl:” Halloween Chocolate Fudge Printed Fun Pop-Tarts
The Breakdown: A nostalgic taste with a delightfully fresh face. Pure milk chocolate fudge indulgence meets giddy Halloween atmosphere in a gimmick that Count Chocula could learn from. It only slightly misses the mark when toasted or when you’re sprinkle-addicted.
The Bottom Line: 9.5 big boxes of little things out of 10