This is Highly Recommend, a column dedicated to what people in the food industry are obsessed with eating, drinking, and buying right now.
I didn’t know what the heck a Pop Tart was until about five years ago, when I moved to the States. Growing up tucked into 16,000 acres of Australian bush, there were no salacious McDonald’s billboards anywhere, which meant my mum successfully tricked my brother and me into believing that whole wheat porridge was life’s greatest joy. Oooh, raisins today! we’d squark, grinning our gobs off and heaping scoops of dry bran on top.
Now that I’m an adult woman and at liberty to curate my own breakfast spreads, you best believe Pop Tarts are front and centre. But not just any Pop Tart! I’m talking about Wild Fruits, a family-run operation in the North Country of New York selling handmade riffs that leave the original Pop Tarts back in 1964, where they belong. Unlike those fifty-something ingredient packaged treats (I lost count after “Blue 1”), Wild Fruits jam tarts are made of just seven: milk, flour, butter, sugar, egg, pectin, and locally grown fruits.
Let’s talk about the flavor lineup. The blueberry is so packed with berries it almost feels good for me. The seasonal apple pie deserves a notable mention. I’m eagerly anticipating the forthcoming sticky date (!), which I’m taking as a nod to my favorite Australian dessert. But my favorite Wild Fruit flavor is the strawberry rhubarb. The magic lies in its holy trinity—flaky butter dough; perfectly sweet-tart jam; and a slick of jam-laced, fruity frosting—which head baker (a.k.a. ‘mom’) Roberta Yaeger says are all inspired by different family recipes. “Our family is known for strawberry rhubarb pie, and we use my mother’s pie recipe for the dough and then my grandmother’s orange drop cookie recipe for the frosting,” she says.
All of the fruit is sourced in the Adirondacks, from places like ADK Growers, LLC., Fobares Fruits, and Martin’s Country Store, as well as locals-only spots: “The family rhubarb patches, secret dirt roads, and the Amish farm stands,” says Jake Yaeger, son and logistics lead. “We’re truly an East Coast company,” agrees Rachel Yaeger, daughter and marketing brain. It goes without saying that fruit picked locally, and in-season, makes for superior jam—the kind that tastes like the plump berries and blush-colored stalks it’s made from, and not just miscellaneous sweetness. (One thing to note is that each batch of Wild Fruits is made to order, which is why they taste so fresh but only have a two week shelf life.)
Since they launched in June, 2019, most of Wild Fruits’ orders end up in their home state, as well as boutique stores like Popup Grocer in NYC and Flying Lotus in Canton (where they’re made). But online orders across the board have peaked throughout the pandemic. “I think with people being locked in at home they’re an easy, thoughtful, and homemade item that can be sent to friends and family,” Rachael says.
Buying a variety pack as a gift to oneself is advisable—a sweet touch in a thoroughly bitter year. To stretch my bounty out, I like to start each morning with a tart roulette. I cut whichever flavor comes out of the box into quarters, eat the little squares one at a time, pinky raised, like they’re cucumber sandwiches and I’m the Queen of England. And while I’d like to say that I still opt for good old porridge some mornings, mum’s always said I’m a terrible liar.