Friday, May 31, 2013

REVIEW: Special K Double Chocolate Protein Meal Bar

This weekend, my Dad decided to take my brother and me to see the White Sox play at Comiskey Park (Well, technically, now it's called U.S. Cellular Field, but my parents say it was originally- and always will be, Comiskey Park). Road trip! Woohoo! We stopped at a gas station as we headed out that morning, and Dad was all like, "Get what you want," to my brother and me as we walked through the doors. Score!!! I''ll takeeee... hmm... a powdered donut, this bag of chips, two bottles of soda, a pack of gum, a large hazelnut coffee, this loaf of white bread, a block of cheese, SPAM, ramen noodle cup, a package of S'Mores Pop-Tarts, teriyaki beef jerky, a granola bar, a box of cereal, a tin of canned cat food, a gallon of 1% milk... and a bunch of bananas, why not!
Well... that might be considered going a touch overboard. So keeping that in mind, I tried to narrow down my options to one drink and one food item. I got a Diet Cherry Coke, and since I'm on this new found protein bar kick, I decided to try this one from Special K: Their Double Chocolate Protein Meal Bar.




I'm not big on Special K-I don't know exactly why this is. It seems like that type of brand that soccer moms would really like, you know? They're able to bill themselves as a healthy brand name, and are able to advertise like crazy, since they're a part of the Kellogg's brand and have tons of money to begin with, making them seem like one of the only health food providers out there. The unadvised soccer mom who is trying to lose ten pounds would stock up on their products like the apocalypse was near, even though some of Special K's products aren't really THAT much better than regular, everyday snacks and cereals. You get what I'm saying? Special K is able to convince people they are one of the more, if not the healthiest brands you can buy, just because they have wads of cash and broadcast tons of commercials.
But some of Special K's products are worth a merit, so I thought I'd give this protein bar of theirs a try.
This product's web page summarizes the bar up quite clearly for us: "
What’s better than chocolate? DOUBLE chocolate! Because when you’re looking for a good ol' meal replacement bar, you need something that S-A-T-I-S-F-I-E-S. That’s why there’s Special K™ Double Chocolate Protein Meal Bars! This protein bar comes packed with yummy chocolatey chips, crispy, crunchy rice and gets dipped into even more chocolatey goodness. With 10 grams of protein and 5 grams of fiber, it also helps you satisfy your hunger. Which makes our Double Chocolate Protein Meal Bar good good!"

...Really, Special K? Saying "good" twice because this is a DOUBLE chocolate bar? I'm sorry- That's not even remotely humorous. You know what? That's dumb. It's as if you've made a mistype in your desciption, not as if you're telling a joke. Why not say it's "twice as good?" They also make this article sound so bubbly... Just one of their many techniques to capture soccer moms under their grasp...
Well, they can't tell a good joke to save their life, but maybe Special K can make a truly nutritious protein bar that's worth our time. Let's see... Special K's already stated that this thing has 10g of protein and 5g of protein on the front of the wrapper (and in really, really, teensy-tiny print, they add in the fact that this bar has 4.5g of fat. And 3.5g of these are of the saturated kind, by the way). The bar weighs in at 45g and contains fair amounts of several different vitamins. All this for 170 calories. Not the best protein-to-calorie ratio I've seen, but it'll do! Like I said, this is Special K we're dealing with here- Not all their products are so "diet-friendly" as they want us to think.
The first ingredient in the Double Chocolate Bar's list is the "coating", which is made up of sugar aaaaand... PARTIALLY HYDROGENATED PALM KERNEL OIL?!?!?! Hold the phone!!! Two ingredients in and this little devil is already popping up? Tsk, tsk, tsk! Partially hydrogenated oil also comes up a second time as part of the ingredients that go into the "chocolatey chips" found in this bar. And sugar makes an appearance three more times as well. We've got a sighting of corn syrup too... Well, if anything can be said here, it's that Special K doesn't focus on making their products organic, that's for sure! But what did you expect? Big brand names like these- They're some of the first to put weirdo chemicals into their foods. Why? Because they can afford to pay guys in lab coats to come up with crazy ways to make their products taste good and cost less to produce, that's why.
Alright, enough groaning about the ingredients- If this bar proves to be tasty, then at least it has something going for it.

Let's see... Pretty good size... Good cocoa coloring... This protein bar is different from the others because of it's rather bumpy texture on the outside. I'm used to more smooth-looking bars.
Mmm-mmm... Special K's Double Chocolate Protein Bar has a fantastic smell of sweet chocolate... Like the smell of a Kit-Kat, almost. You know, protein bar companies could become reeeeal successful if they found a way to get the exact same scent of their products into candle or perfume form or something... I would totally buy something like that!

Unlike the other protein bars I've tasted so far, Special K's interior has a rather crispy, crunchy, albeit puffy taste to it. Not soft or chewy or really dense. The texture is very similar to those chewy granola bars that kids go nuts for. This protein bar's main component is rice cereal, which noting from the brown color, I'm guessing is supposed to be chocolate-flavored. I couldn't really tell though. With a chocolate coating and all that, you really can't be sure what's tasting like chocolate and what's not. In this bar's case, however, that is a good thing. This is Double Chocolate, after all! I think we want nothing less of a chocolate overload here.
The inside is also very sticky.  The rice cereal is held together by a tan substance that I would attribute to caramel. Caramel isn't in the official description or in the list of ingredients however, so it could just be a big mass of corn syrup clogging up the insides of the bar and keeping the rice cereal together. But then again, isn't caramel more or less corn syrup in the first place? Well, it was tasty and chewy. Whatever it was, it at least reminded me of caramel. And while there was a good taste of caramel coming from the bar, I missed the chocolate chips that were supposed to be inside. I think the brown color of the rice cereal made it hard for me to see any of the chips, and the chocolatey taste was already coming in from the coating that I really didn't notice the chocolate chips, if they were there. If anything, I would name this bar something like "Chocolate Caramel" instead of "Double Chocolate," but then again, Special K already has a Chocolate Caramel bar!
The chocolate coating that encased the bar, while made of the dirty fiend known as partially hydrogenated palm kernel oil, was super yummy. It was sweet and sugary, and actually had a decent thickeness. It melted into my mouth and had a very noticeable flavor. Sometimes, protein bars' chocolate coating seems to be added just for decoration, but this one surprisingly tasted just like sweet, sugary chocolate (which I'm sure is because it was).
In terms of taste and overall flavor, Special K's Double Chocolate Protein Bar deserves a solid A. With the chocolately casing and the sweet, crunchy cereal inside, this bar tasted just like one of those Dipps Granola Bars from Quaker- excluding the oats. Unlike most protein bars I've tried, Special K's has no bitter aftertaste whatsoever. It tastes just like one of those sugary, chewy, delicious granola bars, I kid you not! It's probably one of the best-tasting protein bars I've tried so far!
However, while Special K has the one-up on taste when compared to other protein bars, its overall rank in nutrition leaves something to be desired. I've definitely seen healthier protein bars out there- Ones with more protein for more sensible amounts of calories than this. And I honestly couldn't see this as being a "meal" bar- I barely got through two hours without getting hungry again! This protein bar would do well as a reasonable snack, but not as a meal in and of itself. It's just not big enough or satisfying enough to be considered a whole "meal," in my eyes. And for a post-workout bar, there are certainly better options as well. But I wouldn't see any problem with having this Double Chocolate Bar when you're craving a dipped granola bar. More protein and more fiber for about the same amount of calories!
Soooo... Special K's Double Chocolate Protein Meal Bar: Fantastic taste for a protein bar, but average nutrition. Not my pick for an after-exercise bar. But as a healthy snack? I think that'd be juuuuust dandy! It has a good amount of protein, fiber, and vitamins for such a sweet n' sugary taste. Now if only they could get rid of those darn partially hydrogenated oils...

Special K Double Chocolate Protein Meal Bar
  • Pros: Amazing, sweet taste for a protein bar, thick and tasty chocolate coating, tasty chocolate rice cereal has a good crunch, sticky caramely stuff on the inside, tastes just like a Dipps Chewy Granola Bar, but is better for you.
  • Cons: Average nutrition for a protein bar, can't really be considered a meal replacement bar, isn't that satisfying, partially hydrogenated oils, can't notice the chocolatey chips.
What do you guys think? Do you like Special K? Which of their products are their favorites? Are there any you guys think I should review? Post your thoughts down in the comments below! I'd love to hear from you!

Till' next time, this has been RiRi Ri-porting!








 
 

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