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Taste test: New sweet and salty snack bars

Snack bars come in handy for many things. We use them for a quick pick-me-up, in school lunches, on car trips, on hiking outings and before participating in sporting events. They can also be a way to stay on a healthy diet as an alternative option to sweets or chips. In fact, dieters might be the inspiration for so many snackmakers, because they tend to roll out new bars at the beginning of the year when many of us are trying to shed the holiday pounds. This week our judges sampled four of the newest bars aimed at those of us who like sweet and salty combinations.

Kathy Saunders, Times correspondent

ProductSpecial K

Protein Trail Mix Fruit & Nut Bar
Init Dark Chocolate Cherry & Cashews Bar Life Choice Simply Peanut Butter Dark Chocolate Bar Clif Organic Salted Caramel Nut Bar

This bar is loaded with nuts and fruits. The appearance was alluring and judges were not disappointed in the taste. "I would stash a few of these in my purse for emergencies," said one panelist. "The nut flavor is prominent and that's a good thing!" Another said the bar reminded her of a candy bar. "I love the crunch," she added. A judge who usually doesn't like chocolate said he appreciated the depth of the flavor in this bar because "the chocolate is not too sweet." Another said the layer was "a great platform of chocolate." He said: "It's got a really good chew and looks healthy." One taster said this bar "looked very similar to National Geographic TV because it's got earth layers." He said he appreciated the chewy and salty blend with an added "some sort of sweet." Another described the bar as "chocolate-covered cherries in a protein bar." He liked the combination but wanted more nutty flavor. Two of our judges said the bar was too "orderly" looking, like it came off of a machine. All four said the cherry and chocolate tastes were dominant.While the peanut butter in this bar was pretty subtle, panelists enjoyed the overall flavor. Three said it tasted more like a candy bar than a healthy snack. "It's homemade looking and yummy and chewy," said one judge. "It's a very satisfying nosh." Another said: "It's very tasty and would be great for a walk in the park or a stroll along the beach." The trail mix look of this bar gave a couple of panelists the impression it was a healthy option, but they agreed it was more of a sweet treat. "I would eat this on special occasions," said one judge. "It tastes and looks like it is held together with marshmallows," said another panelist. "It's very sticky, very chewy and utterly irresistible." One judge said the bar covered all of the latest snack trends. "It's organic, it's got salted caramel, it's non-genetically modified and gluten free," she said. "But the taste is pretty good and the salted caramel is prominent, which is a promise kept."

they buy?
All four judges said yes.Two of the four judges said yes.Two of the four judges said yes.Three of the four judges said yes.
Shopping information$2.98 for a 6.15-ounce box of five 1.23-ounce bars from Walmart.$3.98 for a 5.6-ounce box of four 1.41-ounce bars from Walmart.$3.88 for a 7-ounce box of five 1.41-ounce bars from Walmart.$4.98 for a 5.64-ounce box of four 1.41-ounce bars from Walmart.

Panelists: Nan Jensen, registered dietitian; John Hehn, foodie and owner of All Brite Lighting & Power Design Inc.; Bob Devin Jones, artistic director at Studio@620; and Janet Keeler, assistant professor of journalism at the University of South Florida St. Petersburg.

Send suggestions for product testing to: Taste section, Tampa Bay Times, P.O. Box 1121, St. Petersburg, FL 33731 or email them to Please put TEST SUGGESTION in the subject line. To read past Taster's Choice columns, go to

Serving size1 bar1 bar1 bar1 bar
Fat/Fiber6g / 4g10g / 3g12g / 3g13g / 2g
Sugars/Sodium10g / 160mg12g / 70mg10g / 40mg9g / 180mg
Carbs/Protein17g / 8g22g / 4g18g / 8g18g / 8g

Taste test: New sweet and salty snack bars 02/13/17 [Last modified: Friday, February 10, 2017 4:31pm]
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