Fancy Pop-Tarts Channel Nostalgia

Amy Cavanaugh

Doughnuts and cupcakes aren’t the only childhood favorites to receive fancy upgrades—Pop-Tarts are getting a refresh, with flaky dough and updated flavors like cherry limeade, spiced pumpkin with Mexican chocolate glaze and peaches and cream.

“We knew we wanted to have traditional American breakfast pastries, the kinds of things I grew up eating in rural Ohio,” says Lauren Culley, head baker and co-owner with her husband, Jeff Excell, of Columbus, Ohio’s Fox in the Snow Cafe. That includes her tarts, which Culley makes with traditional pie dough in flavors like blueberry, peaches and cream, and sour cherry.

“We laminate the dough so that it has layers upon layers of folded butter,” she says. “We serve the pastry at room temperature, unless you’re in the shop when the doors open, and then you’re treated to a warm one.”


At Ted’s Bulletin in Washington, D.C., executive Pastry Chef Todd Miller serves Ted’s Tarts in flavors like salted caramel and blueberry cheesecake, plus rotating seasonal offerings like cherry limeade and lemon curd with candied lemon zest. Ted’s Tarts have been on the menu since 2010, when the 1930s-themed diner opened with a menu of classic dishes and a dessert program focused on nostalgic treats, like boozy milkshakes.

“Strawberry has always been the favorite,” Miller says. “It’s strawberry jam inside a light pie dough, with vanilla glaze and rainbow sprinkles.”

At Los Angeles’ Nickel Diner, Monica May serves strawberry tarts year-round, plus flavors like apple with a burnt brown sugar glaze and spiced pumpkin with a Mexican chocolate glaze. She serves them warm and adds vanilla ice cream by request.

“When I opened Nickel, I had an amazing opportunity to recreate the things I enjoyed eating,” May says. “But it’s not necessarily about the nostalgia, since it’s a great concept—it’s essentially a hand pie, but it’s made with seasonal fresh ingredients and all-butter dough, so they rise to a level that surpasses anything in the supermarket."