Tuesday, December 3, 2013

REVIEW: Nature Valley Chocolate Pretzel Nut Sweet & Salty Nut Granola Bar

Maybe this craze has been around longer than I've believed it to be, but it seems like people nowadays just can't get enough of sweet and salty food pairings. Salty fried chicken and sweet, syrup-y waffles; salty cheddar cheese and sweet, cinnamon-y apple pie; salty, meaty ham and sweet, juicy pineapple; salty....... uh....... salt and sweet, buttery caramel- and let's not forget this one! Salty, crunchy pretzels and sweet, creamy milk chocolate. Oh yeah. Can't resist em'.
Odd sweet n' salty combinations have been on the rise for quite awhile now (Heck, they were even serving chocolate-covered mozzarella cheese up at the State Fair), but chocolate-covered pretzels have been a no-brainer since 1544, when pretzel-man Herr Joseph Franz von Liebniz hooked up with the chocolatier next door in Hamburg, Germany to make a truly special food combo. Ahh, Hamburg... Raising up The Beatles AND the sweet n' salty trend.
So why DOES a chocolate pretzel granola bar sound so strange to me? Maybe it's the fact that salty foods like pretzels just seem ODD in typically sweet granola bars, even if said pretzels ARE accompanied by chocolate? I don't know. But anyway, I decided to embrace this growing sweet n' salty trend by testing out Nature Valley's Chocolate Pretzel Nut Bar. One 7.4 oz. box containing six 1.2 oz. bars costs around $3.38.

One 35g bar contains 150 calories, 45 of them being from fat, 5g of total fat, 2g of saturated fat, 0g of trans fat, 0mg of cholesterol, 170mg of sodium, 24g of total carbohydrates, 2g of dietary fiber, 12g of sugar, and 2g of protein.

What we got here is a dense bar with a lot more pretzel rods than I expected. I thought Nature Valley would be a bit stingy with the pretzels- but naaah... We're good here. The chocolate FLAVORED (emphasis on flavored here) coating is all on the bottom, and the titular "nut" (aka almonds) is found inside in chunks scattered here and there. The rest of the bar is made up of a mixture of rolled oats and what appears to be some crisped rice.
This bar has a nice, pretzel-filled flavor that doesn't detract too much from the sweetness. In fact, I'd say the combination of salty and sweet is just right. The pretzels here have a "real" pretzel flavor, because they are, in fact, "real" pretzels. They also retain the texture of real pretzels- meaning the crunchy, baked, powdery feel you get when munching on standalone pretzels. The rest of the bar is fairly hard and thick, but the oats provide a nice chewy texture as well. And thankfully, this bar is not very sticky. I hate it when granola bars are too sticky.
There was a good amount of almond pieces in this bar, which gave it a nutty undertone and another level of depth to the whole "crunch" factor. The "chocolate" was very sweet and milk chocolate flavored- something that caught me slightly of guard since I'm so used to DARK chocolate in a lot of the things I eat. I liked the way the chocolate melted in my mouth, but when I tried to take a bit from it, I found the coating to have an uncharacteristically odd chewy texture. I suppose that's what you get from chocolate that's not really "chocolate." The chocolate, like I said, was flavored very sweetly- perhaps a bit TOO sweet -it tasted almost funny sometimes. Maybe this is just another incidence of weird fake chocolate here but I can't help but think this bar would've been more preferable if it were made with dark chocolate instead. My bad- I meant made with a dark-chocolate FLAVORED coating.
But anyway, this was a solid bar that delivers well on its sweet and salty promises. The pretzel flavor is pronounced in just the right way, and balances out with the sweeter aspects of the bar. The texture is good all around, with plenty of crunch and a little bit of chew. The nuts are delicious and are a nice touch, and the chocolate is a bit too sweet, but nothing off-putting. I'll say it again, I would've rather have had DARK chocolate in this bar, but beggars can't be choosers, I suppose.
Not a mind-blowing bar, but pretty unique and quite delectable besides.
I'd give it a 7/10.
Need further opinions from those who chewed and reviewed? Crazy Food Dude has written their thoughts here as well.

What is YOUR favorite Sweet & Salty combo? Write your thoughts down in the comments below!

Till' then, this has been RiRi ri-porting!

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