Kroger Brown Sugar and Cinnamon Toaster Treats (Kroger)

An open box of Kroger Brown Sugar and Cinnamon Toaster Treats, from Kroger.
Dare I say it: Better than the national brand.

Here’s an item that I don’t think needs much of an introduction: Kroger’s version of the world’s most famous type of mass-produced “pastry”. I think everyone is familiar with its combination of dry-ass pastry, hard-ass frosting, and delicious (usually) fruit filling: it has become an American staple. And even though my description for it probably doesn’t make it sound too enticing, I think based on my review history you can probably tell that I do like them. And I was also a huge fan of the only other Kroger brand kind I've ever tried. But the stakes will be higher on this one as the brown sugar and cinnamon is my favorite kind.

Once inside the box, we're met with a familiar site: A silver wrapper with the flavor of pastry it is stamped all across it. Curiously, there is no mention of the brand whatsoever; I say “curious” because this wrapper design is the same across every store brand I think I’ve ever tried. It’s a good bet that the national brand makes a good chunk of the private label options, but this is just me speculating out loud; I can’t say with complete certainty that this is the case. (And if it's not the national brand, then it's a good bet one company makes virtually all the private label versions.)

Opening it up, and once again we have evidence to support that theory: These look exactly like the name brand. The pastry is pale and holey, the frosting is very off-center and doesn’t even come close to stretching corner to corner (there are always those “desert bites” where there’s no icing or filling and the texture feels like you’ve just taken a bite out of the Sahara, with a similar flavor, to boot). I mean, it’s very common for store brands to look like the national brand - after all, that’s exactly the point. But there are usually at least some slight variations and, although I guess I don’t have both side-by-side to actually compare, I’ve had enough of these to believe that it’s a virtual carbon copy.

Considering everything has been about on par with the national brand so far, I expect the same “performance” out of the taste…and was actually somewhat blown away. This is actually better than the name brand, and every store brand I've tried before it. 

These are excellent. On the outside, we still have the same uninspired boring-ass pastry, and the same hard-ass “frosting” (I feel like that’s a misnomer; there has to be some rule somewhere that excludes something of this texture from being called a “frosting”.) It might be easy to just write these off as just another standard attempt to replicate one of the most popular food items in America. 

But on the inside is where things caught me completely off guard: these ratchet up the flavor to “11”. The brown sugar and cinnamon flavors are both very strong, overtaking everything else in a way I’ve never experienced from a “toaster tart” (or “toaster pastry”, or whatever other off-brand monikers there are). It threatened to be too much at times, even for a huge cinnamon fan like myself, but it never actually crossed that line; it’s a solid balance of sweet and dry that leaves you begging for the next bite. I hate to say anything positive about Kroger, but these very well may be the best “toaster rectangles” I think I’ve ever had.

Needless to say, if you only have a passing interest in either brown sugar or cinnamon, you’re probably going to be overwhelmed here. But then again, if you’re not a big fan of either flavor, then why would you get these in the first place?

Value is where these start to take a little hit: An 8 ct box (4 packages of 2 each) retails for $1.50. That’s the equivalent of a “small box”. You can actually get the larger 12 ct boxes for the same price at other stores (whereas the 12 ct boxes here are $1.79). The trade-off to this is that these are better than average, which does help to justify the cost somewhat. However, I avoid shopping at Kroger whenever I can, and getting some very good “toaster treats” isn’t even close enough of a reason to justify a trip there. I’m fine with getting the cheaper store brands because they're still tasty.

But I’ve got to say that, in a world of copycat clones, these manage to stand out above the rest. Impressive.

Overall: 8.5/10. Wow, who would have thunk it? These pack in a ton of brown sugar and cinnamon flavor, but since those don't really hit the same part of the tastebuds as, say, hot fudge, or cupcakes, it doesn't come off as being too sweet. It still might be too much for some - I'd imagine cinnamon is an acquired taste - but I absolutely loved these. Value is the biggest hindrance, with the 8 ct "small" box costing as much as the larger 12 ct boxes at other stores; the fact they taste better helps to offset that. I won't go out of my way to grab these, but if I find myself inside a Kroger (which I often do since my wife inexplicably likes to shop there), I would get these again with no hesitation.