I’ve recently returned from The States, where a busy schedule of constant travel and long drives made me develop a certain addiction to cereal and energy bars.
There seems to be quite a thriving industry of various so-called meal replacement bars that aim to keep you going when you can’t (or won’t) have a full, proper meal. Some of these are pretty out there, like these ProBar creations I picked up in San Francisco’s hippie co-op heaven, Rainbow Grocery. Both of these had chocolate clearly displayed on the packing, both in the ingredient listing and the pretty pictures on the front. I figured I could kill two birds in one stone and check them out.
The first thing to note about these bars is that they are expensive. They cost $3 each for an 85g bar when you can pick up a similar sized energy bar for just under $2.
To be fair, both bars seem to be composed of all kinds of exotic (read: expensive and somewhat hyped) ingredients such as cashews, almonds, flax and sunflower seeds, dates, etc. The chocolate is in the form of unsweetened dark chocolate chips. Both bars list them, but the Koka Moka has the chocolate further up the list and claims to be a “chocolate lover’s new love”.
I started with the cherry and pretzel bar, because it sounded weird. Well, it was weird.
There are basically too many flavours competing in this bar. There’s peanut butter, there’s oats and dates, there’s cherries, there’s chocolate (though not nearly as much as I’d have liked), there’s chopped up pretzels that turn the whole thing into a very strong salty sensation every once in a while… Basically, every bite you take is a completely different flavour combination. While some work, some are just, well, confusing. I’m actually a great fan of things like peanut butter cups and other sweet and savoury things, but this one was a bit much even for me. By the end of the bar I was sort of getting into it a bit more but it still didn’t leave the sort of flavour imprint that would make me necessarily look for it again.
The Koka Moka seemed more promising – it was darker, for one, which made me think it had more chocolate in it. However, it didn’t really taste particularly chocolaty to me. The flavour seemed to be hidden behind all the other ingredients, plus there was sickly, unpleasant aftertaste that kicked in very quickly and wouldn’t go away. It almost tasted off, but I checked the date and there was no reason why it should. I sort of had to force myself to keep on eating it, mostly because the ingredient list seemed so wholesome, I really wanted to like it. Sadly, I never managed to.
As far as energy bars go, these did the trick as each bar kept my appetite down for about 4 hours. They seem to be a good source of omega 3, which at least made me feel that the experience was not in vain.
However, there are other bars on the market that’ll keep you going for hours and while they may not have such an impressive and organic list of ingredients, they are cheaper and taste better. If you were looking (like I was) for a chance to combine a reasonably healthy eating experience on the go with a yummy chocolate treat then you’ll really want to look elsewhere.