I stopped in at REI yesterday to pick up some hand warmers (they’re good stocking stuffers, especially for outdoor runners and football fans who brave the stadium even in frigid temps) and was pleasantly surprised to find a sale on Clif products, so I picked up a few flavored I’d never tried before.
Full disclosure: I’m a pretty big fan of Clif stuff. I eat Chocolate or Chocolate Peanut Butter Builder’s bars and Lemon Zest Luna Bars almost every day. Recently I discovered Mojo Peanut Butter Pretzel Bars, and I like those too. They’re drier and a little bit messy to eat (but not Nature Valley Crunchy Oat Bar messy — those are delicious, but invariably end up all over me), but I like the flavor and the protein factor. I regularly buy Clif products, and I bought the items in this review. I’m just a regular person!
Clif Builder’s Bar Chocolate Chip
I’m very familiar with the flavor and texture of Builder’s Bars from my experiences with the Chocolate and Chocolate Peanut Butter flavors. In the protein bar world, there are different types of “good.” For a protein bar, “good” might mean, “I can choke it down without wanting to hurl,” or it might mean, “I’m not sure that this isn’t a Snickers in a different wrapper, it’s that tasty.” I’ve found that Builder’s Bars fall somewhere in between; they’re pretty tasty and the texture is palatable — there’s some of that typical protein bar glueyness, but it’s tempered by some crunch. I’ve had better chocolatey coating on protein bars, but I’ve also had far worse. They’re about an 8 out of 10 in my book.
Given all of that, I had certain expectations when I bit into the new Chocolate Chip flavor. And I was pretty disappointed. Instead of the moderately chewy texture I was used to, I found the bar I had to be downright stiff and hard to chew. The usually gluey layer (which I figure contains much of the bar’s protein) was too chewy. I detected a little, tiny bit of that raw cookie dough flavor (if you’ve ever risked salmonella for a bite of Tollhouse cookie dough straight from the roll, you know what that is) in my first bite, but that was soon overshadowed by the dried paste texture of the bar. No bueno. I give these a 2 out of 10. Your mileage may vary, and maybe I just had a bad example of an otherwise good flavor.
Clif Builder’s Bar Chocolate Mint
Yum — I’d read good things about this flavor, and I was not disappointed. I don’t really like Clif Bars (the soft bars with fig is a primary ingredient — I think that the fig contributes to an overall disconcerting fruity taste in even the chocolate-infused bars), but in a pinch, the Chocolate Mint flavor is my favorite. This was better than that. I was reminded of Thin Mint Girl Scout cookies. Don’t expect to close your eyes and forget that you’re eating a protein bar – they’re not miraculous, but they are darn tasty. Minty enough, but not too minty. I give these a 9 out of 10. When I order my next box of Builder’s Bars, it’ll be the Chocolate Mint flavor.
Luna Bar Peanut Honey Pretzel
Luna Bars are kind of hit or miss for me. The Lemon Zest and Blueberry varieties are big hits with robust flavors — I look forward to eating them. They’d both be a 10 out of 10 for me, but more than one of either in a day can give me some digestive issues, so I’m docking them a point — 9 out of 10. Nuts Over Chocolate and S’mores, on the other hand, are both pretty forgettable. Unfortunately, the Peanut Honey Pretzel flavor falls into the latter camp — ho hum, not much taste. I didn’t discern peanuts, or pretzel, and only a little honey. The bar looked awesome, with visible pretzel pieces and peanut butter chips. Texture was fine, basically what I’ve come to expect from Luna. This one is a snooze. It’s not bad, but not really good either, so I’ll give it a middle of the road 5 out of 10.
Clif Builder’s Bar Crunchy Peanut Butter
I was surprised by the non-chocolate coating on this bar — it’s enrobed in a blonde, peanut-buttery coating that lends some moisture and tenderness to the bar. This one isn’t a gunky nightmare like the chocolate chip flavor! A little salty, a little sweet, and nice texture from the addition of peanut pieces. I liked this, but I can see myself getting sick of it since it’s not quite bold enough for me. I give it 7 out of 10.