Childhood breakfasts and Pop-Tarts go hand-in-hand, especially in busy households with a lot going on in the mornings and several mouths to feed before everyone heads in their different directions. Heck, we know plenty of adults that lean on the convenience of Pop-Tarts from time to time to get some quick calories while they hurtle through their day. Of course, everyone has a favorite flavor, but most people agree that these mostly sweet dessert-for-breakfast style toaster pastries are irresistible.
Launched in 1964, Pop-Tarts immediately cornered the breakfast pastry market and blew Post’s "Country Squares", the only competitor, right out of the water (via Chicago Tribune). The original four flavors launched by Kellogg were Strawberry, Blueberry, Brown Sugar Cinnamon, and Apple-Currant (which quickly changed to Apple-Berry). These four flavors still have a place in the Pop-Tarts lineup today, along with dozens of other flavors.
So it’s not surprising that Aldi decided to recreate the incredibly popular toaster pastry and sell it at a lower price. Aldi has made a name for itself by bringing products to consumers at heavily discounted prices through store-brand products and unorthodox supermarket shortcuts to help keep the prices low. So we had to find out how the Toaster Tarts from Aldi compare to Pop-Tarts. We looked at the cost, nutritional information, and of course, the taste to figure out which product is the better choice. Read on to find out which breakfast pastry is our winner.
Cost and size comparison
Aldi brand Toaster Tarts and Pop-Tarts come in boxes of the same size with incredibly similar designs. Each box contains six packages of pastries, two per package for a total of 12 pastries. The serving size for both is two pastries (or one package), which is about 96 grams for the Pop-Tarts and 104 grams for the Toaster Tarts — a relatively tiny 8-gram difference. So what you’re getting in the box is practically identical for both brands.
Cost-wise, there’s quite a difference. Aldi actually sells both brands of pastries, displaying the name brand Pop-Tarts right next to the Millville Toaster Tarts, where it’s clear to see the price difference first-hand. The brand-name Pop-Tarts were $2.99 before tax, where the Toaster Tarts were half the price, at $1.49. If you’re in a household that goes through Pop-Tarts every day, or you’re stocking up, you’re likely to save a good chunk of change by going with the Toaster Tarts instead of the Pop-Tarts.
According to the website, Pop-Tarts are sold in a wide variety of flavors, with 24 flavors in the fan-favorite category alone, not including the New, Limited Edition, and Bites flavors. Aldi didn’t duplicate every Pop-Tart flavor, but covered the most popular flavors, including the Frosted Brown Sugar & Cinnamon, Frosted Chocolate Fudge, Frosted S’Mores, and Frosted Strawberry Toaster Tarts. For this test, we chose the Frosted Brown Sugar Cinnamon flavors of each brand, since it’s one of the original four Pop-Tarts flavors.
Each serving of pastries, whether it’s Pop-Tarts or Toaster Tarts, contains 400 calories. Technically, because the Toaster Tarts weigh 8 grams more, you’re getting an ever-so-slight advantage of calories by weight, but we doubt you’ll notice a difference. The total fat, sodium, carbohydrates, and protein vary slightly from one pastry brand to another, but not to extreme degrees. The Toaster Tarts have slightly less fat, sodium, and protein, but have slightly more carbohydrates than the Pop-Tarts. As always, you know your nutritional needs best, so how important those small variations are, depends entirely on your needs.
Next, we took a look at the ingredient list, to see if there were any major differences in the makeup of the pastries. Both pastries are made with enriched wheat as the main ingredient, followed by sugar or high fructose corn syrup, and oil. If the inclusion of the high fructose corn syrup bothers you, unfortunately, both pastries make use of it, although both include regular cane sugar as well.
The Toaster Tarts mention brown sugar by name, where the Pop-Tarts mention sugar and molasses separately — although together they make brown sugar. Both pastries include cinnamon, but only the Aldi Toaster Tarts contain whey. For those looking to avoid all dairy products entirely, you’ll want to go with the Pop-Tarts. While neither pastry includes egg products, both contain trace amounts of gelatin, which technically makes the pastries non-vegetarian. Again, the ingredient lists don’t really set either pastry apart.
With so few differences between the two breakfast pastries in the nutrition comparison, we had high hopes that the taste comparison would help us decide which brand was the better choice. The first thing we noticed when opening packages of each pastry are that the Toaster Tarts actually look nicer than the Pop-Tarts. The Pop-Tarts are thinner with frosting that’s unevenly spread across the top, and a slightly thinner amount of filling. Sure, we know that these things are made in massive quantities by huge machines, but it seems like the machines making the Toaster Tarts are trying a little harder to make a more attractive product.
Regardless, we started munching on each, only to find that they taste exactly the same. The difference wasn’t in the flavor of the filling or the dough, but instead how much we felt like we were getting out of each pastry. The Toaster Tarts tasted like there was more filling and more dough in each bite. With the addition of only 4 grams per pastry, we don’t really know how they did it, but for the same flavor as the original Pop-Tarts, the Toaster Tarts gave us a little more. The better first impression and heartier tarts make the Toaster Tarts the winner in the taste comparison.
Nutritionally speaking, it’s debatable whether or not Pop-Tarts are "good for you", but they’re satisfying and quick which is absolutely the name of the game. Rest assured that you’re getting mostly the same nutritional benefits from either the Pop-Tarts or the Toaster Tarts. With that said, if you’re looking for a lower-calorie option for snacking, but still love your Pop-Tarts, consider trying the Pop-Tarts Bites, which will only cost you 150 calories per serving. (Aldi hasn’t yet duplicated these.)
When it comes down to deciding which of these pastries is the better choice, we relied on the taste of the products, and even more on the value of each brand based on the cost of each box. For both the quality of the product and the substantial savings at the register, The Aldi brand Toaster Tarts are the clear winner. Pop-Tarts are a classic that isn’t going out of style anytime soon, but they’ve definitely met their competition from the Aldi brand.
If the Brown Sugar Cinnamon flavor isn’t your first choice, we’d encourage you to try the other comparable flavors that Aldi offers. We’d be willing to bet that the production and flavors are also very similar, if not indistinguishable — all for half the price of the Pop-Tarts.