Sunday, September 14, 2014

What's the best darn energy bar in the world?

How many times have you asked yourself … what’s the best darn energy bar in the world? ... and then moved on to simpler questions such as how to attain world peace and the meaning of life. Well dear readers, fortunately for you See Mike Run doesn’t shy away from the tough questions!  Read on, all will be revealed.

First up, thanks to the following 12 athletes for their unbiased analysis and dogged determination to settle this age old dilemma once and for all!.  They are surely in line for the Nobel Peace Prize for their efforts in advancing human civilization! 
Carly Walsh
Bob Nicol
David Fielder
Ainsley MacDougall
Fern Berard
Darcie Wadelius
Connie Lowe
Melissa Budd
Tim MacKay
Joanne Schiewe
Cynthia Menzies
Nadine Linder
Back to the task at hand, what's the best darn energy bar in the world? 

If you just can't wait, skip to the chart below. If you have a bit of time, consider the following.

Twelve athletes were invited to ‘blind-sample’ ten popular energy bars and rate them in five different categories using a 4-point rating scale.

Sniff Test: How appealing is the smell of this energy bar?
(Yummy) 4 … 3 … 2 … 1 (Pee Ewe)

Taste Test: How appealing is the taste of this energy bar?
(Divine) 4 … 3 … 2 … 1 (Gag)

Sweetness Test: How sweet is this energy bar?
(Just right) 4 … 3 … 2 … 1 (Quick, call my dentist!)

Real Food Test:  How likely is this energy bar made from real food?
(Real Food) 4 … 3 … 2 … 1 (Franken-food)

Purchase Test:  How likely are you to purchase this energy bar?
(Very likely) 4 … 3 … 2 … 1 (Hell no)

Energy Bars Sampled

The ten Energy Bars sampled are:

GORP, Cocoa, Hemp & Almond
CLIFF, Oatmeal Raisin, Walnut
POWERBAR, Chocolate Carmel Fusion
HONEY STINGER, Chocolate Waffle
GORP, Peanut Butter & Apple
CLIFF, Chocolate Chip Peanut Crunch
CLIFF Chocolate Chip
POWERBAR, Carmel Fusion
GORP, Peanut Butter & Raspberry
CLIFF, Black Cherry Almond

Results (click the charts to super size):

Yellow cells show the highest overall score in each of the 5 categories.
Red cells show the lowest overall score in each of the 5 categories.
The asterisk indicates 11 people scored the category, not 12.

GORP (Cocoa, Hemp and Almond) scored highest in four of the five categories with a combined approval rating of 79.58%. The testers used a variety of adjectives to describe the taste and smell of this energy bar including sweet, satisfying, chocolaty, fruity, nutty, crunchy, fresh, grainy, natural, and woody. The testers used these adjectives to describe the overall experience of the energy bar: choco-rific, healthy, choco-nutty, bar-o-licious, and bitter.

CLIFF (Black Cherry and Almond) was the second choice with an approval score of 75.33%.  These are some of the adjectives used to describe the bar: crisp, buttery, cardboard, chewy, crunchy, apple, cinnamon, moist, nutty, sweet, nutty, spicy, vanilla, oat-tee, cotton candy, bleh, yuck, dirt.  Interestingly, two separate testers described the taste as “cardboard”.  The one word used to describe the overall experience includes: dependable, solid, fake, sweet, delicious, gingerbread, comforting, yum, imitation, and ugly.  

GORP (Peanut Butter and Raspberry) followed close behind for third place with an approval score of 72.91%. This bar scored highest in one of the five categories. Adjectives to describe the bar include: interesting, dry, fruity, nutty, earthy, satisfying, honey, musty, clean, cinnamon, and almond milk. One tester described it as “like peanut butter and jam on toast”.  The one word to describe the overall experience includes: happy, tasty, gratifying, hmmm, clean, boring, choking-hazard, perfect, and heavenly.

With an approval rating of 51.66% POWERBAR (Chocolate Carmel) came in dead last.  It scored lowest of all ten bars in four of the five categories. One tester described this bar as “an energy bar trying to be a chocolate bar” and then added “a bad chocolate bar”.  Other adjectives used include: candy bar, artificial, non-descript, bland, buttery, pleasing, mmm fudge, sweet, chocolaty, creamy.  Several testers compared it to a chocolate-bar and suggested it is too sweet.

Whats the most important aspect of an Energy Bar?

The tester were asked to identify the most important qualities of an Energy Bar from a list provided.  They were also given the opportunity to explain.  Here's the results.

What aspects of an Energy Bar are important from you?  You may circle more than one.

Protein: 9 responses
Fibre: 6 responses
Natural Food: 7 responses
Name Brand: 1 response
Size: 0 response
Calories: 4 responses
Cost: 6 responses
Locally Sourced: 3 responses
Other:  4 responses

If the testers chose other, they were asked to explain.  Here's a couple of their comments:

The energy has to be sustainable.  Many snack bars give only short periods of energy. A good Power Bar (my favourite) gives you a lot of energy for a good period of time. Taste does make a difference though even the unpalatable can be endured for a time if there is enough energy and no drop (i.e. cache). Energy bars go best with water.

Taste!  When I'm out there working hardI want to look forward to tasting something good.  I don't care if it's good for me (although I probably should). I have to like the taste a lot! It is also important that it does not melt; I can't wreck another race bag. 

If this energy bar were a pop song, what would it be called?

And finally,  if this Energy Bar was a pop song, what would it be called? Here's a sampling in no particular order.
Smooth Movement 
Just Eat It!
Bad To The Bran
Who Put The Hay Bail in my Mouth?
With or Without You, I'll Get By
How Sweet It Is
Quaker Love
My Teeth Are Screaming
She Ain't Pretty, She Just Looks That Way
I Want To Give You Cavities
Plastic Fantastic
Hit Me Baby One More Time
You Make Me Sick
Sweet Trouble; Just cuz ya taste good, doesn't mean ya is good!
Soggy Sad Sunday
Won't Waste My Time On You!
Gritty Love
It's Your Money I'm After Baby
You Make Me Feel Like a Natural Woman
Rockin' The Buds
Yummy, Yummy, Yummy, I've Got Love in My Tummy


This is not a scientific poll so it's difficult to determine hard and fast conclusions but it does seem that 2 out of three athletes prefer GORP Energy Bar over the others. What's exciting about the findings is GORP is a local bar, made in Niverville, Manitoba and they are the official Energy Bar of Ted's Run for Literacy.  If you haven't yet tried a GORP I encourage you to pick one up at all fine Running stores such as City Park Runners on Portage Avenue; you won't regret your choice.  Or, better yet, register for Ted's Run for Literacy and get a free GORP Energy Bar at kit pick-up.  

It's a good day to be alive.