The Riddle of the Pop Tart.

My boyfriend likes Toaster Pastries. LOVES them, in fact. On a recent trip to the States, he bulked up his suitcase with boxes of Pop Tarts: all the crazy flavours you can’t get in the UK (probably because they’d turn even the calmest kids psycho with e-numbers).

I, however, can’t eat them. Not because of the sugar or the colourings, but because – for some strange reason – they contain gelatin (that’s right, folks, I’m one of those: a vegetarian). Why companies like Kellogg’s insist on using gelatin (a substance made from animal skin and bones) in their products, I will never quite understand. Perhaps it is marginally cheaper in the short-term. In the long-term, however, the use of this ingredient alienates a huge group of potential customers. Hardly good for business.

So many tempting things are slyly manufactured with meat, and it often takes an eagle-eye to spot that they’re not vegetarian: Party Rings, Parma Violets, Jelly Babies, Muller Lights, marshmallows… The list goes on and on. Even Mars tried to switch to a non-veggie recipe for their bars in 2007 – until they encountered the wrath of thousands of angry vegetarians, that is.

The stupid thing is, it’s not like there aren’t decent alternatives (take a look at this if you don’t believe me). So if most jellies and cheesecakes – products that historically depended on gelatin – can now be made successfully without the stuff, why can’t the rest of the Pudding World follow suit?

Let’s go back to Pop Tarts, which Kellogg’s have ensured will be forever off my shopping list. A company called Nature’s Path does a damn fine Toaster Pastry with a taste and texture to rival their big name competitor. I had one last night – ‘Brown Sugar Maple Cinnamon’. I would’ve had two, but my boyfriend filched the second. According to him they taste better than Pop Tarts – and that’s without the gelatin. They are, in fact, his new favourites.

So, Mr Kellogg’s: if you’re listening, take heed. Gelatin does nothing for the texture or taste of your Tarts. The veggies are advancing, and it’s time to get with the programme.

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