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Energy Bars: Saving the Planet! (But do they taste good?)

I’ve eaten a lot of energy bars recently. A lot. At this point, I’m an expert on three particular brands and 4 different styles. But before I reveal what I’ve been eating, I want to give you the bullet points listed on the packaging of these bars:

  1. All Natural
  2. Non GMO
  3. Gluten Free
  4. No Sugar Alcohols
  5. Low Glycemic
  6. Very Low Sodium
  7. Dairy Free
  8. 1% for the Planet
  9. Certified Organic by QAI

Delicious is not a bullet point. Delicious is a word used in the narrative or small print to describe the trail bars. From a marketing point of view, all of the exceptions seem to be more important than tastes great which I find interesting for a food product.

Now that I know all the things that some of these energy bars ARE NOT, what are they?

Mojo from Clif Bar uses Organic Pretzels in their Peanut Butter Pretzel Bar. Not a big marketing point for me. They also use several other ingredients to make what are basically glorified Rice Krispie treats with peanuts. My jaw usually hurts from eating a Mojo Peanut Butter Pretzel bar and without the nostalgia value of a Rice Krispie.

Suffice it to say, the Clif Mojo Peanut Butter Pretzel Bar is not my favorite.

Mojo Chocolate Almond Coconut bar is better than the peanut butter type. I can taste the coconut and the bar is a little softer and easier to chew. But not much easier to chew. I think it would be nearly impossible to eat either Mojo Bar near freezing temperatures, which makes it difficult to take for certain types of climbing or hiking. Forget about it in winter.

Readers have to understand, I’m hungry when I’m eating these energy bars. I’ve been hiking at 10,000 feet for the better part of 2 or 3 hours and I want a snack. I’m not really thinking “Save the Planet” right now, I’m thinking, “hungry, sweet, calories, tasty, big hill coming up”.

Kind bars I’ve been enjoying since I was flying around the country in airplanes 200 days a year. Kind is better than the inflight meal and they fit in your bag better, last longer and with less potential mess than Panda Express. I can recognize everything in a Kind Bar and they taste wonderful. They seem to be bound together by honey and taste like it too.

I like Kind Bars and have liked them for several years.

Not exactly a modern energy bar, Walkers Butter Cookies always makes it in my backpack. That’s right, good, old fashioned butter cookies from Scotland since 1898 and made with all natural ingredients. In fact, I will list the ingredients because I understand what they are: wheat flour, butter, sugar, salt. Simple and delicious. The Scotts behind these cookies didn’t get the memo back in 1898 that all of the ingredients listed in their delicious shortbread seem to be the scourge of the modern world. I’m sure if Walkers wanted to, they could make an organic shortbread cookie and kick back 1% to Scottish Salmon for all I care. And they could probably charge twice as much.

I love Walkers Shortbread and often eat them before bedtime in my tent.

So why are Energy Bars marketed with an exception list, rather than a “tastes great” logo?

Because most energy bars are not for backpackers, climbers, and outdoor enthusiasts.

My theory; Energy Bars are marketed to people who live in cubicles and airport lounges who know they need to eat, but probably shouldn’t eat the full buffet at the hotel early in the morning before their flight or simply aren’t inclined to cook at home, so they skip breakfast.

Remember, I was the guy sitting in an airport for 10 years deciding between another Panda Express, Subway, or the United Inflight Meal. Or, eat a Kind Bar and ask the flight attendant for a big glass of milk, fall asleep and try to hold out until I got to a city where I could have a real, sit-down meal.

So next time you’re on a day hike at 10,000 feet, pack a ham and cheese sandwich, one Kind Bar and two Walkers Shortbread cookies for dessert. You’ll be a lot happier.