It's not the same stuff you smear on toast
Starting the morning with a flaky pastry used to mean you had to wake up early to wait in line at the bakery. But with the increased consumer desire for ease when it comes to breakfast food, packaged, fruit-filled pastries like Toaster Strudel gained popularity. Toaster Strudel are sold frozen and are intended to be reheated in the toaster before being smeared with the accompanying packet of icing. Although Toaster Strudel are marketed simply as a “breakfast pastry,” they do bear the most resemblance to Austrian strudel, which are layered pastries with a sweet filling. While classic strudel filling is more similar in texture to fruit pie, Toaster Strudel filling is a bit more gooey. Though Toaster Strudel filling may be comparable to jam in texture, it’s definitely not the same stuff currently residing in a jar on your fridge door. So, what exactly is Toaster Strudel filling?
The Toaster Strudel website lists all ingredients for the pastry together, but we can guesstimate that apple flavored Toaster Strudel jam contains apple puree, high fructose corn syrup (and possibly also corn syrup solids, dehydrated HFCS), corn starch, maltodextrin (an artificial sugar), sucralose (also marketed as Splenda), cinnamon, artificial color, natural and artificial flavor, Polysorbate 60 (a thickener and emulsifier than can also prevent burning during a cooking process), and guar, locust bean, and xanthan gum. There are also a host of preservatives in Toaster Strudel filling, among them potassium sorbate (it has anti-microbial properties and is often used in packaged jams and syrups to stop the growth of mold and bad bacteria), sodium benzoate (a hotly debated chemically engineered sodium salt), TBHQ, and citric acid.
If the preservative-heavy list is putting you off your breakfast, don’t feel like you need to go without a sweet pastry in the morning. Organic brands Nature’s Path and Annie’s both offer toaster pastries made with less highly processed and artificial ingredients; however these pastries are more similar to Pop Tarts than Toaster Strudel. If you’re looking for a real-deal strudel for breakfast, it’s best to brave the bakery line. Stop by the night before to pick up your pastries, then reheat them the following morning. If you have the time, why not try DIY Toaster Strudel? They’re just frozen phyllo dough and whatever spread your heart desires—it’s really not as hard as it may seem.