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I Tried 7 Toaster Pastry Brands & the Best Is Filled With Nostalgia

See which of the frosted, jelly-filled pastry rectangles takes you back to sweet childhood.
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When you need a quick, on-the-go meal in the morning, what are you grabbing first? Breakfast sandwiches and burritos are common choices, along with muffins or doughnuts. Smoothies or granola bars can usually be trusted to hold you over until lunch. Or, you can add some fun and flavor to your routine with a toaster pastry or two.

These specialty treats have been around since 1964 and are the perfect reminder of childhood. I remember eating them on the bus on the way to school and buying them from the vending machine before practices. Toaster pastries are also one of those foods that kids and adults like because they're quick and easy, not terribly expensive, and come in scores of flavors, so everyone can find something to love.

When it comes down to specific brands, Pop-Tarts and Toaster Strudel are the big names in the game. But plenty of others exist, including store brands and more health-forward pastries, which have begun to pop up (literally) more recently. But how do they taste compared to the OGs? I rounded up seven brands to find out. Here's how each brand stacked up, ranked in descending order from my least favorite to the absolute best.

Flings Summer Strawberry Toaster Pastries

flings summer strawberry
Megan Hageman, Eat This, Not That!
PER 1 PASTRY: 140 calories, 4.5 g fat (0.5 g saturated fat), 290 mg sodium, 32 g carbs (13 g fiber, 1 g sugar), 10 g protein

If this is your first time hearing of Flings, you're not alone. The Canadian company hit the market for the first time in 2023 and landed on the shelves of more than 500 Target stores in January 2024. Each Flings box contains four single-wrapped pastries, and they stand out with their bold colors and retro branding. What has been drawing people into these new age pastries is that they are a better-for-you alternative with 140 calories, one gram of sugar, and 10 grams of protein per serving. Plus, they come with a laundry list of classifications. They are keto-friendly, gluten-free, soy-free, and wheat-free, to name a few.

Flings sticks closely to what's already out there in terms of flavors but gives them more imaginative names like Summer Strawberry, Hot Chocolate, and Sticky Cinnamon. After a quick game of eeny, meeny, miny, moe, I decided to go with the strawberry box for a whopping $8.99, which comes out to almost $2.25 per pastry.

The look: I chose the customary route by cooking these in my toaster oven. But I was intrigued by the box's "Fling Em Cold" suggestion of putting them in the freezer for 20 minutes instead. The pastry is small and almost completely devoid of frosting. It looks like there was some at one point, but it was scraped off. I checked the sleeve to see if it was stuck there, but no. A few leftover pink speckles can be seen on top, however.

The taste: The smell is like a fresh jelly donut, but the taste is not nearly as satisfying. The whole thing is dry and chewy. The worst part is the grainy protein powder taste and slightly off-putting texture. The slathering of strawberry jelly on the inside is so small that it's almost negligible. These simply did not hit the spot for me, and the inflated price tag just adds fuel to the fire.

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Legendary Foods Strawberry Protein Pastry

legendary protein pastry
Megan Hageman, Eat This, Not That!
PER 1 PASTRY: 180 calories, 8 g fat (1.5 g saturated fat), 370 mg sodium, 22 g carbs (9 g fiber, <1 g sugar), 20 g protein

Legendary Foods toaster pastries follow a similar nutritional ideology as Flings. But the brand takes it one step further with an extra 10 grams of protein to make 20. This is the amount you will find in every single one of the brand's pastries and its other products, like its protein chips and sweet rolls. Each pastry boasts less fat, carbs, and sugar than most leading brands. There's an impressive flavor selection, too. You can pick up strawberry, brown sugar cinnamon, blueberry, chocolate cake, red velvet, hot fudge sundae birthday cake, and cookies and cream versions of these protein-packed treats. I grabbed a single strawberry pastry at Sheetz to taste, and a four-count box of the same flavor is priced at $9.99 at Target.

The look: Unnaturally perfect, like someone molded it from clay or some other material. It's also thicker, like it's been puffed up with air (probably all that protein at work). The rectangle is a standard beige color, while the icing is a crisp shade of white. Red, orange, green, and pink sprinkles are unevenly scattered on top.

The taste: A cross between a protein bar and a Fig Newton. It's more spongy and caky than crisp and doesn't break apart easily. This is partly because the icing holds it together with its gummy paste-like texture. Looking at the positives, the icing has a sweet, sugary flavor, and the strawberry mixture tastes fresh even though it's made from dried strawberries and extract. Even with the added grams, it has a slightly less aggressive protein flavor than Flings. But still, the only time I could see myself eating this is after hitting the gym—and even then, I still think I would instead reach for a protein bar or shake.

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Great Value Frosted Chocolate Fudge Toaster Pastries

great value chocolate fudge toaster pastries
Megan Hageman, Eat This, Not That!
PER 2 PASTRIES: 370 calories, 9 g fat (4.5 g saturated fat), 380 mg sodium, 66 g carbs (1 g fiber, 38 g sugar), 4 g protein

No matter what food or snack you're looking for at Walmart, you will find a similar, lower-cost alternative under the store's Great Value name. Like with any generic store brand, though, some of these more affordable options are dead ringers for the name brand, while others fail miserably and are better left on the shelf. I was curious to see which category the Great Value Toaster Pastries fell into. Many flavor options are available, from cherry to cookies and cream to brown sugar cinnamon. I bought a 12-count box of the Frosted Chocolate Fudge pastries for $1.92.

The look: Pretty close to Pop-Tarts in a dark shade of brown. The frosting is the same color as the underneath pastry, so it's hard to tell them apart. White sugar flecks decorate the surface.

The taste: Mediocre. When heated up, these don't taste too bad, but nothing exceptional about them. The inner filling is more like chocolate icing rather than fudge. The amount of filling is also skimpy since the crusty outer edge comes in a little too far on each side. It's somewhat dry as a result, and the whole thing has a very subdued chocolate taste. The price, though, can't be beat. So, if you're on a budget, I recommend these as a satisfactory choice.

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Trader Joe's Cherry Pomegranate Organic Frosted Toaster Pastries

trader joe's cherry pomegranate toaster pastries
Megan Hageman, Eat This, Not That!
PER 2 PASTRIES: 350 calories, 8 g fat (3.5 g saturated fat), 260 mg sodium, 67 g carbs (2 g fiber, 36 g sugar), 4 g protein

This breakfast specialty is among Trader Joe's collection of winning meals, drinks, desserts, and snacks. The chain claims that its product is a "far cry from typical toaster pastries" and is made with all organic ingredients. The standard flavors include strawberry and a saucy cherry pomegranate. I found the latter intriguing, so that's the box I reached for. A six-count box costs $2.99. I have seen brown sugar and cinnamon, pumpkin, and hot cocoa renditions available for limited times, but they were nowhere to be seen when I shopped.

The look: The crust looks like it could be whole grain with a deeper tan color and more speckles than the others. The icing is cream-colored and applied very thinly, with some areas missed altogether. Inside, the filling is a muted pink color—which looks much less artificial than the bright red of some other brands—and it smells like a berry pie as it toasts. Magenta sprinkles garnish each pastry.

The taste: Naturally flavored but dry and crumbly. I can pick out the taste of both cherry and pomegranate. The fruit flavors aren't overpowered by other sweeteners or ingredients (don't let that fool you though, these still contain as much added sugar as other leading brands). Overall, I could taste the quality. But, the all-organic crust lacks any moisture, and with such a small amount of frosting to help, it's hard to eat the whole thing without grabbing a glass of milk. This was especially true when the pastries settled back to room temperature.

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Pillsbury Strawberry Toaster Strudel Pastries

pillsbury toaster strudel
Megan Hageman, Eat This, Not That!
PER 2 PASTRIES WITH ICING: 340 calories, 12 g fat (4.5 g saturated fat), 320 mg sodium, 54 g carbs (1 g fiber, 19 g sugar), 5 g protein

As far as toaster pastries go, Toaster Strudels stand in a league of their own. The Pillsbury treats are the only kind I tasted that come frozen, and they're the only ones that allow you to apply the icing yourself—a fun element that adults and kids alike can appreciate. They first hit shelves in 1985 in strawberry, blueberry, cinnamon, and raspberry flavors. The brand has been expanding flavors since, and now there are savory versions of the strudels called Toaster Scrambles. I kept things simple with classic strawberry, which I grabbed in a six-count box for $2.99.

The look: Golden brown from the toaster and flakey. It's the thickest pastry but comparable to others regarding the overall surface area. I don't think I waited long enough after taking it out of the toaster oven to apply the white icing, so it melted and didn't look the most artistic.

The taste: The only one that I would call a pastry. Its crescent base and fluffier demeanor better fit the bill when compared to its flat competitors. When it's straight out of the toaster oven, the outer layer is slightly crisp, and the inside is smooth. But, when you get a bite, you can tell there's something artificial about that strawberry jelly. It gets its flavor mostly from juice concentrate, so it tastes more like the substance you would find inside a strawberry squeeze candy or Juicy Drop Pop. It also loses its luster after it cools down.

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Ghetto Gastro Maple Apple Cinnamon Toaster Pastries

ghetto gastro toaster pastries
Megan Hageman, Eat This, Not That!
PER 1 PASTRY: 210 calories, 7 g fat (6 g saturated fat), 120 mg sodium, 35 g carbs (2 g fiber, 15 g sugar), 2 g protein

Without context, I would have thought Ghetto Gastro was a beer brand or hip new brewery. It is a health-conscious New York-based breakfast foods brand specializing in pancake and waffle mixes, syrup, and toaster pastries. The company explains,"To us, 'ghetto' represents resilience, innovation and creativity–it means home; & the 'gastro' signifies our intention to revolutionize your palate in thoughtful ways."

The brand's products are sold at Target. Its toaster pastries come in four flavors: strawberry, chocolate raspberry, PB&J, and maple apple cinnamon. A box containing four of the maple apple cinnamon cost $5.99.

The look: Tan and naked, like a graham cracker square. It's not overly long or wide, but it's chunky, and slits are cut into its front side.

The taste: I was afraid this pastry may be dry, given its appearance and lack of icing, but it surprised me. The whole thing smells and tastes like an apple pie with bursts of cinnamon and fresh fruity notes. It's crispy all the way around, but the jelly mixture in the center is sticky and thick, adding some chewiness. These notes are all based on my experience with the pastry after it was warmed in the toaster oven. It's not quite as tasty when eaten at room temperature, but it would still make for an acceptable on-the-go snack.

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Pop-Tarts Frosted Brown Sugar Cinnamon

brown sugar cinnamon pop tarts
Megan Hageman, Eat This, Not That!
PER 2 PASTRIES: 400 calories, 13 g fat (4.5 g saturated fat), 340 mg sodium, 68 g carbs (1 g fiber, 30 g sugar), 4 g protein

One breed of toaster pastry that needs no introduction is Pop-Tarts. The brand has dominated the market since they were released in the original flavors of strawberry, cinnamon sugar, blueberry, and apple currant in 1964. They weren't the first toaster pastries to be invented—Post Country Squares beat them by a hair—but they have been the most successful.

With this success, Pop-Tart's reach has expanded exponentially, and you can now find countless varieties of breakfast novelty products. Strawberry Milkshake, Banana Bread, Eggo Maple Flavor, and grape are all on the current docket, in addition to adorable mini Pop-Tart Bites. I stuck with a trusty eight-count box of frosted brown sugar cinnamon Pop-Tarts for $2.79.

The look: I've seen my fair share of inadequately frosted Pop-Tarts. But this batch lived up to the picture on the box. The fringes of each rectangle became noticeably toasty, and the icing was smooth, reaching from end to end.

The taste: I came into this with an open mind and tried to erase any preconceived notions. Ultimately, Pop-Tarts have that X-factor that can't be beaten. Sure, there's the wave of nostalgia that hits as you bite into one of the pastries. But they're highly palatable and habit-forming. One standout component is the exterior crust. It is slightly sweetened so that it tastes good, even by itself.

Then, paired with the hardened, sugary icing and the grainy brown sugar paste, it's like pure happiness and bliss packed into a flat rectangle. I also love that Pop-Tarts maintain their flavor no matter how they're served. Whether straight from the toaster, freezer or just out of the sleeve, they always hit the spot.

Megan Hageman
Megan is a freelance writer based in Columbus, Ohio. Read more about Megan