They were a Saturday-morning staple when you were a kid.
They were easy enough to prepare, and Mom and Dad could keep sleeping while you ripped open the foil package and popped them in the toaster.
They kind of tasted like cardboard – though it was the sweetest, stickiest, chewiest cardboard you’d ever eaten.
Pop-Tarts, or toaster pastries as they’re generically called, hold a prominent place in America’s breakfast lore. They come in a long list of flavors and include a hard-to-beat combination of pastry, sweet filling and frosting.
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Now, a few Wichita restaurants and bakeries are joining in a national trend: baking and selling homemade Pop-Tarts.
They’re available in at least three places locally: Milkfloat, the dessert restaurant at 535 W. Douglas; GreenAcres, the health-food market at 8141 E. 21st St., whose homemade Pop-Tarts are gluten free, and the new HomeGrown, the new west-side breakfast and lunch restaurant at 2835 N. Maize Road where Beth Tully of Cocoa Dolce fame is now the director of brand innovation.
“We didn’t realize what a part of culture it is,” said Tully, who says the restaurant’s version is so popular, she can barely keep them in the store.
Commercial Pop-Tarts are made by The Kellogg Co., which first introduced them in 1964, and they’re sold all over the world. They come in dozens of flavors, from popular classics like strawberry and brown sugar cinnamon to off-the-wall inventions like chocolate chip cookie dough and Jolly Rancher green apple.
For the past couple of years, making them from scratch has been a growing trend in bakeries across the country that were looking to capitalize on the popularity of individual hand-held desserts like cupcakes and hand pies. The nostalgia factor also was a plus.
When Cliff Bragg opened Milkfloat last year, nostalgia was one of his key ingredients. When the shop first opened, it also was making homemade Twinkies and Hostess CupCakes.
But the homemade toaster pastries were a hit.
Chef Kaitlyn Huber makes hers with a shortbread crust rather than with a pie crust. That texture replicates the original much better, she said.
Milkfloat always has two different flavors in its cabinet. This month, it’s selling Twix Pop-Tarts and raspberry Pop-Tarts. In two weeks, it will switch to blueberry Fruity Pebbles and S’mores.
The Pop-Tarts are one of Milkfloat’s top sellers, she said.
“It’s something that takes people back to childhood, and making them at a bakery is obviously better than getting them off store shelves,” she said. “They’re a little healthier option and taste better, in my opinion.”
GreenAcres sells gluten-free homemade Pop-Tarts that are made in its gluten-free baking facility in Kansas City, said owner Barb Hoffman. They always have two flavors: chocolate and berry.
Her gluten-free version tastes close to the original, Hoffman said. When GreenAcres first started selling the homemade Pop-Tarts, people weren’t real sure about them and sales were slow. But they offered free samples to all the doubters, who were quickly convinced.
“We sell a lot of them now,” she said.
Several Wichita restaurants and bakeries are making their own versions of the pre-packaged breakfast treat
Homegrown, 2835 N. Maize Road: Pop-Tarts are one for $4 or two for $7 and are available in cinnamon and sugar and berry flavors.
Milkfloat, 535 W. Douglas: The dessert restaurant always has two Pop-Tart flavors in stock. Right now, it’s Twix and raspberry. They’re $3.50 apiece or two for $6.
Green Acres, 8141 E. 21st St.: The health-food store and cafe sells gluten-free homemade Pop-Tarts in two flavors; chocolate and berry. They’re $2.99 for berry flavor and $2.49 for chocolate.