The crinkle of its silver foil wrapper and the scent strawberry wafting through the air: two dead giveaways for the sweet snack about to be eaten. As kids, Pop-Tarts were a breakfast treat and the focal point of playground debates—is the best flavor strawberry, s’mores, or brown sugar? Even though Pop-Tarts were a staple snack in most Y2K homes, Weesh Bake Shop brings Pop-Tarts into 2020.
Elyse Purbaugh works full-time as a school teacher, but she has recently opened Weesh to further pursue her passion of baking. When Christine Vistro, the retail operations manager from Somerville sweet shop Taza Chocolate reached out to her about a collaboration between the two local businesses, she was excited about the opportunity. Taza Chocolate boasts a brand philosophy different from other chocolate brands. The shop makes stone-ground chocolate from cocoa beans right in Somerville, according to its website.
Taza threw a pre-Valentine’s Day Pop(tart) & Shop on Feb. 13 in which it offered hot chocolate made from Taza chocolate and Purbaugh’s mini Pop-Tarts—either strawberry or s’mores flavored. The strawberry Pop-Tart was filled with a strawberry jam and has a vanilla frosting glaze with festive Valentine’s Day sprinkles and a chocolate drizzle made from the Taza Chocolate. The s’mores Pop-Tart had a fudge filling and the same Taza chocolate drizzle.
Purbaugh tries to only buy local and often makes components from scratch for her goods, like the marshmallow fluff for the s’mores Pop-Tarts.
“I would much rather support someone like Taza rather than getting store-bought chocolate,” Purbaugh said. “I also made the strawberry jam from scratch, so I’m the baker and owner, a one-woman team.”
Purbaugh decided to focus on Pop-Tarts in her baking business because of the versatility of the treat.
“Now I am mostly baking cakes and had to discontinue making cookies except for Pop-Tarts because I really wanted to do Pop-Tarts because of the so many different flavor combinations, like I was able to make a baklava-flavored one,” Purbaugh said.
While the Pop-Tarts were part of the appeal of the event, relatively few people attended.
“We haven’t really seen a lot of people tonight, which is surprising since it is the night before Valentine’s Day,” said one of the employees at the shop. “But we do tend to get more people for a tour of the chocolate factory.”
The shop was covered in Valentine’s Day decorations—pink hearts dangled from the ceiling above the multitude of chocolate choices on the shelves below. The hot chocolate being sampled had a deep, rich chocolate texture that was closer to the consistency of hot fudge than that of Swiss Miss. The strawberry Pop-Tart that was given with a purchase took the traditional store bought Pop-Tart and elevated it with fresher, more intense flavors. The chocolate purchased from Taza Chocolate also upheld its promise of the intense flavors and the unique gritty textures, the flavor reminiscent of the Dominican Republic, where its cacao beans are harvested ethically, according to its website.
At Taza Chocolate, the perfect way to celebrate Valentine’s Day was with some chocolate and a homemade Pop-Tart. Following her pop-up Pop-Tart shop, Purbaugh saw Valentine’s Day as an opportunity for creating fun treats, whereas before she thought of Valentine’s Day as a holiday only for card businesses. Now that she opened her business and is not just celebrating Valentine’s Day in her classroom, the holiday gained a whole new meaning.
“It’s no longer a Hallmark-Card holiday,” she said.
Featured Image by Rebecca Speer/for The Heights