Toaster pastry family dynamics are confusing.
Take the Brown Sugar Cinnamons, for example. From Kellogg’s to Kroger, every brand under the toaster oven’s warming sun has a unique take on Brown Sugar Cinnamon, but they all taste different. Sometimes, I like to try connecting each doughy rectangle on an imaginary family tree.
You have the OG pastry, Brown Sugar Cinnamon Pop-Tart, a sweet and sugary gal who was clearly raised by a “fun parent:” the kind of hyperactive, dad joke-slinging manchild who I aspire to be someday. You have Cinnamon Roll with Brown Sugar Toaster Strudels, who stays cold and aloof in his room until you warm him up and he comes alive. And you have Cinnamon + Brown Sugar Megpie, the plump child who ran away from home to become a barista and eat one too many Starbucks marble loaves during his break.
Now there’s Trader Joe’s new Brown Sugar & Cinnamon Toaster Pastry. He must’ve been raised by the family’s all organic, hippy grandma out west. Just why do I say that? Well let’s ask the quirky quadrilateral himself.
Trader Joe’s Brown Sugar & Cinnamon “Totally Not Pop-Tarts” don’t look too pretty right out of the foil package. The camouflage icing kind of makes them look like pastries in torn pantyhose. But it’s like Grandma always said: “Don’t judge a book by the frosting on its cover. And stop using books as a cake plate, or else the library won’t take it back.”
Inside, this is a cozy pastry worthy of Grandma’s kitchen. First things first: filling lovers beware, because this is a crust-heavy treat. Thankfully, I like Pop-Tart and toaster pastry crust, and these pastries have some of the tastiest crust you’ll find between Boston Cream and Mississippi Mud.
The stuff is wholesomely dense and nourishingly mealy—in a good way, like buttered 9-grain bread. But the thick crust really gets to shine when you factor in the modest sweetness of the filling. When eaten plain, this TJ’s tart filling is far more brown sugar than cinnamon. But the good news is that the homey granulation of the former and the spiced touch of the latter combine with the crust’s oiled edge to make the whole toaster pastry taste like homemade zucchini bread.
Yep, this is pretty much a Zucchini Bread Pop-Tart, and I just called my grandma just to share the good news. As the woman who introduced me to zucchini bread—unarguably the tastiest use of cylindrical green vegetables—she deserved to know.
So while that alone is reason enough to pick up Trader Joe’s Brown Sugar & Cinnamon Organic Toaster Pastries, they take on an equally interesting dessert flavor when toasted. The spice-specked innards turn gooey, and the cinnamon comes roaring to life like my stomach in Costco’s free sample aisle.
With its syrupy sweet cinnamon, delicately baked crust, and caramelized brown sugar finish, a toasted TJ’s BS&C Toaster Pastry is pretty much an apple-less apple pie. Well, time to make another call.
As a shameless frozen Pop-Tart lover (there are dozens of us…dozens!), I had to know what dessert these pastries would turn into after popping a chill pill. The answer? Weirdly enough: a whole wheat gingerbread man. I don’t know what it is about the freezer, but it really brings out these toaster treats’ darkly sweet molasses notes. I compare a lot of things to my long-lost Kemps Gingerbread Man Ice Cream Sandwiches in desperate attempts to relive the taste of my favorite ever dessert, but these Brown Sugar & Cinnamon Toaster Pastries may come closer than anything ever has.
Good thing I’ve got Grandma on speed dial
Overall, these are fantastic toaster pastries. Yes, they could use a little more sweetness and a little more filling, and the crust can feel a little dry. But their refreshingly natural flavors also taste like three different nostalgic goodies when exposed to different temperatures, which sounds like the plot to an surrealist superhero movie to you, then
And that’s good enough for me.
The “Bowl:” Trader Joe’s Organic Frosted Brown Sugar & Cinnamon Toaster Pastries
The Breakdown: Zucchini bread when plain, pie when toasted, and gingerbread when frozen, these delightful pastries just needed a little more sweetness to make them worthy of knighthood or preservation in some museum of breakfast history.
The Bottom Line: 9 extinct ice cream sandwich species out of 10
(Quick Nutrition Facts: 200 calories, less than 1 gram of fiber, 21 grams of sugar, and 2 grams of protein per 1 pastry serving)