FortiFX Crunch Bar Cookies and Cream 30g Protein Bar Review

I guess that having a signature protein bar makes about as much as having a signature sneaker, but somehow celebrity-endorsed nutrition products seem like even balder money grabs than shoe deals. However, I was pleasantly surprised by the taste and quality of Nogii bars, endorsed by Tim Hasselbeck (of NFL fame) and Elizabeth Hasselbeck (best known for her time on The View, although she was a college softball player). That good experience notwithstanding, I ordered a box of FortiFX Crunch Bars, endorsed by celebrity chef Robert Irvine, with some trepidation. Cookies and Cream is a flavor that is hard to get right. The memory of the creamy, crunchy, indulgent Hershey’s Cookies and Cream white chocolate bars I had every once in a blue moon as a kid keeps my expectations and standards high for this flavor combination.

These bars are basically Oreo’s answer to sports nutrition. Which is to say, they are awesome. Not remotely disappointing.

Look at that picture and check out the FortiFX website (if you’re me, you’re drooling over peanut butter flavored bars — I don’t care that they’ve been food styled, they look good). When the food in your hand looks that close to what’s pictured on the package, you know you’re in for a good experience. Let me break down for you what’s happening in this bar, from the bottom up:


  1. The bar itself is a massive 88 grams. This should be considered a meal replacement already because it’s a 380 calorie item with a burly 30 grams of protein, but like it or not, a FortiFX Crunch Cookies and Cream bar will replace a meal because it will fill you up. You’ve got to handle one of these to fully appreciate how substantial it is. I’ve found that the whey protein blend in these bars keeps me fuller longer as well.
  2. The whole bar is enrobed in a chocolatey coating. This isn’t the most flavorful chocolate I’ve had in a protein bar, but it melts normally and isn’t waxy or fake tasting. It’s a reasonable complement to the good stuff on the inside of the bar.
  3. Cookie cream layer – this has a texture similar to Oreo cream, though it’s not as sweet. The bars only contain 6 grams of sugar (the artificial sweetener sorbitol supplies the rest of the sweetness), so that’s to be expected.
  4. A thick chocolate cookie layer is the foundation for this bar, and it mimics some of the experience of eating an Oreo.
  5. The cookie cream flavored nougat is smooth for a protein bar; not too chewy, not gritty, not sticky. Between this and the frosting-like layer, you get a great ratio of cookie cream flavor to chocolate cookie flavor.
  6. Best part of the bar: the chocolate cookie crispies. I think that these are tiny cookies baked into chocolate chip shapes. They really capture the flavor of the cookie part of Oreos. But beware: these crisp pieces of chocolate cookie heaven are messy. Don’t break the bar into pieces with your hands or bite it halfway and they sort of break it off. Either make clean knife cuts through it or bite through it completely or else you can expect crisp cookie bits and nougat to fall all over you and/or the floor. Smaller bites help, too. Unlike Nature Valley crunchy granola bars that are a complete disaster to eat no matter what you do, you can mitigate the mess with these. Don’t eat this bar carelessly in your car! Or really anyplace that you care about. Unless you want rats and bugs. In which case, go for it.


-Delicious taste – you won’t mistake this for an Oreo, but you might think that Nabisco has created a protein bar twin for America’s favorite cookie.

-Huge portion will keep the hangries at bay. If you don’t know what the hangries are, consider yourself lucky.

-Mostly whey in the protein blend. I’m not familiar enough with the studies or prevailing opinions about whey and soy to speak authoritatively about that debate, but personally I’ve found that whey protein products keep me fuller longer than soy protein products.

-Low sugar is nice to see here. Bars that have almost as much sugar as they have protein aren’t all that nutritious.


-More expensive than other bars that contain a similar amount of protein. A lot of that is probably due to the fact that these use a whey-dominated blend, as opposed to strictly soy protein.

-Flavored with artificial sweetener. I’m used to seeing organic ingredients listed on the back of Clif packages, so seeing chemical names on the FortiFX Crunch Bar ingredient list is disappointing.

-And to that end, there are lots of ingredients, a few of which are unpronounceable.

-Messy to eat if you’re not careful. Seriously. I cannot impress upon you enough how messy these can be.


In a perfect world a bar at this price point ($26.58 for a box of 12, shipped free from Amazon for my most recent box) would be all whey protein and contain mostly natural and/or organic ingredients. I really like these bars, but I’d prefer that the protein bar industry (heck, maybe just the celebrity-endorsed protein bar industry, since it seems to be killing it in terms of quality and flavor) not rest on its laurels yet, so I’m going to rate the truly excellent FortiFX Crunch Cookies and Cream Bars 8 out of 10.


Nogii Gluten-Free Protein Bar Review


I realize that this picture is msuch less convincing on my computer screen than it was on my iPhone. I’ll confess: I snarfed this bar right down before it even occurred to me to snap a picture of it, so this is only the wrapper. My first impression after randomly buying a Nogii bar at CVS was good enough to convince me to spring for a whole box on Amazon.

The Good:

-Taste: These have a good sweet and salty thing going on with a peanut butter infused soy and whey protein filling and a chocolatey coating. This chocolatey coating (rarely will you get real chocolate in a protein bar) tastes like chocolate, isn’t crumbly, and doesn’t melt in my hands too easily. The caramel is kind of unnecessary, but it tastes like real caramel: soft and sweet, though not complexly sweet.

-30 grams of high-quality whey and soy protein. It’s nice to get some whey protein in a bar. The presence of the whey explains the cost of these bars.

-Texture: Dense and crispy, without being too crunchy. Imagine a double layer of Luna bar enrobed in chocolate, and you’re probably not too far off from what a bite into a Nogii bar is like.

-Size: This could easily be a meal replacement. At a whopping 3.34 oz, this thing is a monster and doesn’t leave me feeling hungry.

-Calories: Not too bad: 390 calories for 30 grams of protein is a lot more efficient than the 180 calories for 10 grams of protein in my beloved Lemon Zest Luna bars.

-Carbohydrates: 38 grams of carbs — probably could be lower if the overkill caramel weren’t included.

-Gluten-free: I’ve noticed that eating too much gluten, such as an artisanal pizza, gives me serious tummy troubles. Other than allowing me to avoid something that occasionally gives me gas pains, I’m not sure that there’s a real nutritional benefit to this being gluten free, but it’s not a bad thing.

The Bad:

-Fat Content: 120 of the bar’s 390 calories come from fat. There are 14 grams of fat in this Nogii bar, 7 grams of which are saturated fat. This may not be extraordinary for the category, but it’s not desirable for me for a bar I plan to eat almost daily.

-Sugars: 22 grams of sugar — more than I’d like to see, but probably not too, too much considering that this bar can be a meal replacement. And the bar tastes so good, I can kind of look past this.

Overall: 8/10

Honey Stinger Protein Bar Reviews

I was lucky enough buy some Honey Stinger 10g protein bars at steep discounts — everything with Lance Armstrong’s image on it must go! — otherwise I probably never would’ve tried these. The regular price of $30 for a box of 15 bars is far too rich for my blood. I found discounted Honey Stinger 10g protein bars online at The Clymb and Steep and Cheep and in person at REI. REI was practically giving them away on 12/26/13 at the store I visited, so if you’re interested, that may be your best bet.

I tried two varieties: Peanut Butta Pro, and Dark Chocolate Cherry Almond.

Honey Stinger Peanut Butta Pro 10g Protein Bar


Taste: 10/10

In a word, delicious. The Peanut Butta Pro flavor is reminiscent of a Reese’s Peanut Butter Cup. It’s chocolatey and peanut buttery and it really doesn’t taste healthy at all. There’s no discernible honey taste, which is neither a good nor a bad thing as far as I’m concerned, just kind of noteworthy given that honey is touted as an ingredient. Unlike some other protein bars, the milk chocolate will melt in your hands because it’s real chocolate! These are stupid good: 10/10.

Texture: 10/10

There’s none of the weird protein bar chewiness in these bars. The smooth texture is about as firm as a Power Bar, but isn’t nearly as chewy and not at all as gummy; you can break these bars if you hit them just right, or pack them in a bag that gets crushed. No crunch from crispy soy or crispy rice, as the 10 grams of protein come from whey protein: 10/10.


Honey Stinger Dark Chocolate Cherry Almond 10g Protein Bar

Taste: 10/10

The whole bar has a strong cherry taste, especially the interior. Dark chocolate is a supporting character, but is a welcome addition that rounds out the candy bar-like flavor: 10/10.


Texture: 10/10

The texture of the Dark Chocolate Cherry Almond bars is identical to that of the Peanut Butta Pro variety, except that the Dark Chocolate Cherry Almond bars contain almond and cherry pieces. Almond bits add crunch, but not much taste, while the cherry pieces add a little raisin-esque chew. The mixed in bits aren’t so thick that they substantially change the texture of the bar; it’s not like a granola bar or some trail mix. They simply add some interest in a robustly flavored bar: 10/10.

Overall, perfection for their category: 10/10.

I’m going to be sad when there are no more sale boxes to be had, since I can’t justify $2 per bar (plus shipping shipping, depending on where I buy them) for small-ish bars with only 10 grams of protein. The calorie and protein content is comparable to my tried-and-true favorite Lemon Zest Luna Bar: both have 180 calories, while the Peanut Butta Pro and Dark Chocolate Cherry Almond Honey Stinger Bars come out ahead with 10g of whey protein to the Luna Bar’s 9g of protein. I don’t know enough about different proteins to speak authoritatively about how soy protein compares with whey protein, but my understanding is that whey protein is more easily absorbed by the human body. Another possible consideration: if you’re keen on getting your protein from a vegan source, then whey is not the way to go.

Some Clif Reviews


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.