Pop-Tarts Apple Jacks And Banana Bread Review: These Flavors Land With Mixed Results

Few pastries take such daring flavor risks as Pop-Tarts. Whether pushing the boundaries with pretzel-style crust or replicating beloved dessert combinations such as cupcakes and strawberry milkshakes, the worst and best of Pop-Tart flavors are nothing if not imaginative. So when the latest offerings of Apple Jacks and Banana Bread appeared on store shelves, a sampling was in order. There's no mistaking the tempting tastes being replicated here. Classic banana bread is a beloved bake that makes use of overripe fruit like no other treat can while Apple Jacks are in the pantheon of childhood flavors for so many generations of cereal fans. Pop-Tarts have a lot to live up to if they're going to trap these delicious delights in toastable pastries topped with sugary glaze.

So how well does Pop-Tart do with its newest creations? We dashed out to our local grocer and snatched up a box of each to do an old-fashioned taste test. Would these snack-tastic hand pies have the crust to live up to their potential, or would they be yet another failed experiment in food fusion destined for the dustbin of snack food history? The suspense was, in a word, delicious.

What's in Pop-Tarts Apple Jacks and Banana Bread?

While Apple Jacks cereal lists apple juice and cinnamon on its ingredients list, Pop-Tart's take on Apple Jacks makes no such claims on its website listing. The only mention made of apple anything is apple powder, and there's no reference whatsoever to cinnamon. This seems odd considering apple and cinnamon are the hallmark flavors in Apple Jacks. It's logical to imagine the Pop-Tart wizards creating the nuclear orange glaze-like goo out of the same ingredients and sprinkling crushed cereal on top to seal the deal. There are red and sprinkles in the frosting, but it's a stingy showing at best.

For Banana Bread Pop-Tarts, the formulation is a little closer to the real thing, with appearances made by banana powder, cinnamon, molasses, and even ginger in the ingredient list. Instead of being shockingly white per the more familiar tart topping, the frosting is off-white, suggesting butter or cream cheese — though there's no reference made to either of those. With such a well-known recipe to live up to in these pre-made snacks, including close-to-real ingredients to capture a facsimile of baked banana bread is a smart move. Good on you, Pop-Tart wizards!

They're available nationwide for the foreseeable future

In a February press release, the people at the top of the Pop-Tart org chart announced the April release of Apple Jacks flavor. The push is for a call-back to simpler days when core memories were built around sugary cereal. There's an emphasis on the combination of two beloved flavors and foods meant to capture the magic of youth. Meanwhile, a March notice for Frosted Banana Bread Pop-Tarts references customers taking advantage of their Grandma Era by picking up limited edition knitted sweaters made of Pop-Tart-shaped granny squares. Clearly, the approach is more coordinated for these nostalgic pastries than for Apple Jacks, and more creative as well. The idea of appealing to youth and age is pretty inspired considering the mixed audience Pop-Tart is capable of drawing with the right marketing magic.

With no mention of limited edition status for either Pop-Tart, it appears that these two twisted treats will be on the shelves until further notice. Both are listed at a suggested retail price of $3.89 for a box of eight — though we found them at a local grocer for $2.99.  

How do they compare to other Pop-Tart flavors?

Pop-Tarts does plenty of whimsical things with their flavors, offering inventions that range from standard blueberry and cinnamon brown sugar combinations to the extremes of food-based crossovers — like cookies and cream and Eggo Waffle. Apple Jacks and Frosted Banana Bread fit nicely with the theme of warm comforting flavors that use fruit notes as bases, even if those notes are wildly artificial. The addition of these two to the current Pop-Tarts flavors expands the current selection with choices that serve nicely as breakfast, snack, and even dessert selections.

As for the fruit flavors in the Pop-Tarts themselves, the most successful options make use of tangy jam or jelly options like grape and strawberry. A mellow flavor like banana or apple adds a new dimension to store shelves, but has the possibility of failing to faithfully recreate the flavors. In the case of Apple Jacks, the filling tastes nothing like apples or Apple Jacks, an incredible disappointment for the cereal lover. In the case of Frosted Banana Bread, the flavors are much more recognizable. The blend of frosting, crust, and brown-sugar-banana smoothness is an idea that translates into a tasty, if not completely convincing, Tart.

What's the nutrition info of these breakfast pastries?

Though Pop-Tarts pop up on breakfast tables and in lunch boxes all over, it's no surprise that these treats don't hit high on the nutrition list. For Apple Jacks Pop-Tarts nutrition facts, a single serving of two pastries carries 370 calories, nine grams of fat, three of which are saturated, 210 milligrams of sodium, and 28 grams of sugar — more than half the recommended daily allowance. 10% of the daily allowance for each of riboflavin, niacin, and folate make a modest effort to enrich these hand pies with nutrients while that number falls to 8% for iron and 4% for thiamin. All of this is to say that Apple Jack Pop-Tarts are more of a treat than a healthy breakfast.

For Frosted Banana Bread Pop-Tarts nutrition facts, the news is only slightly better. Two of these tempting tarts weigh in at 360 calories, eight grams of fat, 2.5 of which are saturated, and 360 milligrams of sodium. The sugar count jumps to 34 grams, taking the content to 68% of the daily allowance. While the nutrients for Apple Jacks are also present here, there is also a bit of potassium and calcium.

The verdict: Stick with banana bread, leave the apples in the box

There was so much hope for both of these inspired flavors. Apple Jacks cereal have such a distinctive taste that, even though it doesn't approximate real apples, absolutely captures "Apple Jacks." This flavor falls squarely into the category of If You Know, You Know. And when you break into an Apple Jack Pop-Tart, you really do know ... that this is not it. Instead of the highly-anticipated cereal essence, there's a strange chemical taste that practically glows with orange oddness as it peeks from between the crusts. Not even the bleached-white glaze with its smattering of what appear to be Apple Jacks sprinkles can rescue this disappointing misstep. 

Frosted Banana Bread Pop-Tarts, on the other hand, find a happy medium between what we all know banana bread to be and what we suspect is the best approximation of "that" which Pop-Tarts is capable of. Maybe this is because banana bread sometimes leans into those other flavors: Spices, molasses, and brown sugar. The variety of recipes allows grace for Pop-Tart to formulate a close cousin that gets this variation on the family banana tree, in a flavor that's relatively a-peel-ing overall.