|Went to take a pic of the actual product, only to discover my wife threw the box in the trash and|
First things first, these look pretty good, with the “icing” (is that what it technically is?) stretching out pretty much from one side and corner, to the other. That’s actually a pretty good thing, because some other brands I’ve had don’t seem to have much icing on top at all—a sign that perhaps, we were dealing with the “real thing” here, only under the guise of a private label.
Another thing I’ve noticed that I have mentioned in other reviews: the packaging! Every off brand of toaster pastry that I’ve ever had has virtually the exact same foil wrapper design, with the variety of the pastry listed on the package, along with a corresponding picture representing that flavor: in this case, we get a strawberry. I’m actually kind of curious as to why this is: is one company literally responsible for making virtually every brand of toaster pastry out there? Or is there merely some packaging company who does reliably quick and cheap foilwork and that’s why everyone uses them? I’m curious, but not enough to really give a shit about it, so I guess I’ll never truly know.
Moving on to the actual product itself….holy crap, these are really good. Just like Essential Everyday’s drink mix sticks, there is no cutback or reduction in flavors—the strawberry here is very in-your-face. It’s still artificial as all hell—just like the name brand itself is—but I didn’t remember even the name brand having such a strong “fruit” taste (then again, it’s once again been years since I’ve had them). The filling itself is pretty sweet, but then add on the frosting and it will probably be too much sweetness for some; I don’t find it to be too overboard, personally, but I can see where it could become overbearing, especially over the course of the two pastries included in each package.
The texture, meanwhile, is equally on point: the frosting is as hard as the national brand, the filling is soft and jam-like (or is it jelly? I still don’t know the damn difference) and the pastry itself, as boring as it is on its own, is very soft and inviting, texturally. Even the colors of the “confetti” sprinkles on top are highly reminiscent of the colors in the national brand—if I had to venture to guess, I’d say these are made in the same factories as the “actual” ones are, but this is just pure speculation on my part.
As we all must certainly know by now, however, nothing is perfect: it is in the “value” department where the façade starts falling apart…rather terribly, might I add. On paper, this looks like an okay deal, with each box retailing for $1.59, savings of around 40 cents off the national brand’s base retail price at most supermarkets. However, look a little closer at the packaging, and you’ll realize this box only contains six total pastries (three packs of two each), as opposed to the 8 contained in the national brand. Yessiree, this is one of your old bait-and-switch tactics—well, I don’t think it would technically fall under that descriptor, but you get the idea: they are cheaper, because there are fewer pastries in there! Add in the cost of the missing two, and it works out to $2.12, which is actually more than the national brand! No wonder they taste so similar!
These are tasty, but I can’t help feeling a little bit gypped by the value proposition, which is so weak that it threatens to negate all the other positives. I mean, what private label is priced so high that you’re technically better off buying the national brand? That was a rhetorical question, because places like CVS exist, but still, it’s a shame…usually you can trust you’re at least saving a little something by opting for an off-brand, but here, you’re just getting screwed out of two pastries, and paying a higher price (on a per-pastry basis) for that right. Shit, maybe “bait and switch” is more appropriate a term than originally believed.
This has to be the first time in this blog’s history that I’ve technically been impressed with a private label product, but would advise you to not only avoid it, but to buy the name brand instead.
Overall: 4/10. These are actually very good, offering up the strong(ly artificial) strawberry taste that many of us grew up on, inside a soft pastry—it’s all so close to the national brand, but I can almost guarantee it is, under a different “private label” name. Furthering that argument, however, is the cost: each box of Essential Everyday’s toaster tarts retails for $1.59. To the untrained eye (and I’m among them, because I fell for it), that looks better than the national brand, which cost around $1.99 at most supermarkets; however, look a little closer and you’ll realize each box of EE’s version contain only six pastries, as opposed to the national brand’s 8. So essentially, it’s only cheaper because you’re getting less product! Even more troubling: add in the missing two tarts and the price works out to $2.12 per 8 pastries, which is even more expensive than the national brand! That’s depressing. So as good as these are in terms of flavor, you’re actually better off getting the national brand instead