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May 25th, 2011 RUTH BROWN | Featured Stories
 

Low Bars

Do any energy bars taste good?

lede_9barBAR LINE-UP: (L to R) Raw Revolution, Hammer Bar, Clif Bar, Skout Bar, Pro Bar, Lärabar
     
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The “energy bar” market is estimated to be worth billions, and grocery store shelves are packed with aggressive-looking packets promising “maximum energy,” “lean muscle” and lists of ingredients that read like a chemistry exam. Any cycling store in Portland worth its sodium chloride offers a range of these calorie-dense snacks for cyclists on the go. We grabbed the least disgusting-looking ones from bike shops around town and put them to the test.


Raw Revolution 

Made in: New York

Price: $1.99

Purported flavor: Cashew and agave nectar

Actually tastes like: Cardboard and agave nectar

Texture: Soft and mushy

Number of ingredients: 7

Special features: 100 percent raw, vegan, kosher, soy-free, organic

Claims: “A clean snack with a higher nutrient content that brings us closer to healing ourselves and the global economy.”

Calories: 280

Weight: 2.2 ounces

Cycling time needed to burn it off (at 12 mph): 26 minutes


Skout Trailbar

Made in: Oregon

Price: $2.49

Purported flavor: Apple and cinnamon

Tastes like: Eating a spoonful of dry cinnamon

Texture: Soft but solid with some crunch from nuts

Number of ingredients: 8

Special features: Vegan, kosher, soy-free, organic

Claims: “Made in the lush Willamette Valley of Oregon, Skout Trailbars embody the spirit of the region: rugged, abundant, unfettered energy.”

Calories: 190

Weight 1.8 ounces

Cycling time: 18 minutes


Pro Bar

Made in: Utah

Price: $2.99 

Purported flavor: “Art’s Original Blend”

Tastes like: Dishwashing detergent, stale crackers and “healthy” chocolate your mom would give you

Texture: Solid and chewy, with lots of different textures from nuts, seeds, whole grains and fruit

Number of ingredients: 38

Special features: Vegan, organic

Claims: “We’re all about delicious, organic, unprocessed foods!”

Calories: 370

Weight: 3 ounces

Cycling time: 35 minutes


Clif Bar

Made in: California

Price: $1.39

Purported flavor: Cool mint chocolate

Tastes like: A toothpaste cookie

Texture: Firm outside, soft inside, a little gritty

Number of ingredients: 33

Special features: 70 percent organic

Claims: “As with our cycling epics, it is the winding road—not the destination—that drives Clif Bar.”

Calories: 250

Weight: 2.4 ounces

Cycling time: 23 minutes


Hammer Bar

Made in: Montana

Price: $2.50 

Purported flavor: Almond raisin

Tastes like: Oily prune and walnut purée

Texture: Mushy and greasy

Number of ingredients: 8

Special features: 90 percent raw, gluten-free

Claims: “The tasty Hammer Bars are perfect as a pre-race meal, post-workout recovery food bar or healthy snack anytime.”

Calories: 220

Weight: 1.76 ounces

Cycling time: 21 minutes


Lärabar

Made in: Colorado

Price: $1.69 

Flavor: Cherry pie

Tastes like: Fermented cherry pie filling

Texture: Soft, with some chew from the cherries

Number of ingredients: 3

Special features: Gluten-free, soy-free, vegan, kosher

Claims: “Lärabar is a magical harmony of fruits, nuts and spices that will lift your vitality and provide energy with every bite.”

Calories: 200

Weight: 1.76 ounces

Cycling time: 19 minutes


RESULTS

Best: The Skout bar was the least disgusting, but, oh my God, the cinnamon.

Worst: The Hammer Bar was so oily and flavorless, it was even unpleasant to hold. 

Most filling: At 3 ounces, the Pro Bar is easily the heftiest, but it’s definitely intended as a meal replacement, not a snack. 

Biggest bang for your caloric buck: At 2.4 ounces and 250 calories, the Clif Bar is a pretty filling snack, with 10 grams of protein.

Most durable: The Pro Bar and Clif Bar are the most likely to keep their shape in your bag.

Least durable: The Hammer Bar and Raw Revolution are likely to end up smooshed.

Stupidest packaging: We had to open the Raw Revolution with scissors.

Conclusion: Eat some fruit and nuts. 

 
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