Protein bars exist in a strange kind of alternate food universe, a world more like that of the Jetsons and their utilitarian food pellets than our garden-variety world’s insistence that the things we eat bring us pleasure as well as sustenance. And frankly, in the world of snacking and convenience food, any sustenance is purely accidental.
Which is to say that in the realm of protein bars, standards are different. Taste matters less than you’d think, and people are willing to put up with garbage flavour if it means they’re getting whatever amino acids they need to, uh, blast their quads? That sounds like a thing.
For someone who doesn’t know or care about this protein-glorifying subculture (me), and who doesn’t particularly want to research various tubs of scoopable supplements (yeah, no thanks), the allure of these bars is the Special K seal of approval.
They’re not as alien as some of the strange foil-wrapped pseudo-food that fitness bros love, making them the perfect gateway protein product for people who may be protein-curious, but who also don’t want to hit up a specialty supplement shop. These are available in the grocery stores you already shop at, and it’s easy to grab a pack instead of the granola bars you were initially planning to buy.
Which is how I stumbled onto them. Instead of granola bars, I walked out with protein bars and a resolve to try them as a filling snack at the office. There were several flavours, but I bought the peanut butter chocolate flavour because I’d had protein bars in the past, and peanut butter and chocolate ones are fairly hard to screw up.
But are they edible?
In a word: borderline. They taste dry, minerally and grainy. It’s sweet without nearly enough salt or other character to make it palatable. Once you’ve chewed it, the mealy bits get lodged in your cheeks like sand in your socks at a playground, which makes you regret eating one of these things for even longer. You’ll need plenty of water to wash it down and rinse out your mouth. In short, not an enjoyable experience.
Note, also, that this is “peanut butter chocolate flavour,” the addition of “flavour” serving as a coded means to distance the product from actual chocolate. God, these things are depressing.
Price: $2.99 (on sale) for a box of four 45-gram bars.
Value for Money: Meh.
Availability: Kellogg’s product, so should be widespread in grocery stores. Check the granola bar section. There’s a line on the bottom of the carton that states “Not for sale outside Canada.” So maybe our American friends will be spared.
Nutrition: 180 calories per bar. Of interest: 4 grams of fibre and 10 grams of protein. That’s fewer calories than a typical chocolate bar, and it has more nutritionally useful stuff inside.
Verdict: If you want a protein bar, there are better options out there. The taste is sub-par and the texture is nasty, which also means they aren’t satisfying as a snack. Avoid.