By JIM VOREL – H&R staff writer

I honestly didn’t believe this one when H&R websmonkey Austin Hourigan first called my attention to it this week. That’s where we’re at now: People pitch new ideas for Eating Badly posts to me, and my first thought is to suspect that the product is a hoax, conjured into existence by enterprising Photoshop wizards. This one just seemed entirely too random and lazy in its construction to be real.

It is quite real, though. Fast food corporate confirmed the existence themselves of the Pop-Tart ice cream sandwich, which is currently being tested at select Carl’s Jr. (Hardee’s to us) locations in California. In a fitting stroke of coincidence, it was first revealed via a stoner’s tweet on 4/20.

In the typically lurid food porn image the Carl’s Jr. marketing team has presented us with, it seems the product is nothing more than a regular strawberry frosted Pop-Tart, broken in half* and filled with vanilla ice cream. Because really, why not? They’ve already been giving away Oreo ice cream sandwiches with burger/fry combos, so the precedent is there, right?

*Because two full Pop-Tarts would just be an affront to God and man. Also, you wouldn’t be able to see the “strawberry” filling.

This one, though … doesn’t it just seem incongruous in some way? Wouldn’t a fragile Pop-Tart be likely to just fall apart into mush after being in contact with melting ice cream? It seems hard to even picture the ice cream staying in the center of the thing, although this guy manages pretty well in constructing his own.

It seems obvious to me that this kind of product is born out of Carl’s Jr./Hardee’s desire to work constant tie-ins into their menu with other well-known brands. Just as Taco Bell has completely embraced the insertion of Doritos into every aspect of their marketing, Carl’s Jr. is targeting other products from the snack food aisle. They already combined ice cream with Oreos, and now Pop-Tarts. Perhaps in the future they can wedge a slab of ice cream between Entenmanns’s Donuts? And why even limit the possibilities to sweets, anyway? You could market the indulgence of chocolate ice cream to the health-conscious by sticking it between wonderfully healthful, oversized, reduced-fat Triscuits. Call it part of a “balanced breakfast,” as in “You will empty your bank balance on hospital bills after eating this.”

It’s all enough to make you wonder, how are these brand-name fusions being dreamt up in the first place? Is there literally a representative of Carl’s Jr. who walks around the grocery store all day, wondering which popular snack foods they can cram ice cream into? Does this guy wake up screaming and covered with sweat at night from nightmares where his bosses are demanding he somehow turn Funyuns* into a dessert item?

*You could hit them with cinnamon and call them “Funyun Churro Twists.”

I don’t know, but I think we can agree that the possibilities of future Pop-Tart/ice cream combinations are nearly endless, as they discuss on this podcast. Imagine, as they say, a chocolate fudge Pop-Tart with coffee ice cream, or a “fudge sundae Pop-Tart” (which apparently exists) with vanilla or chocolate. If you’re imagining the possibility, then surely they are as well.

What do you think, sirs? Pointless combination or brilliant fusion?

Entertainment Reporter for the Herald & Review

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