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Reviews > Food > Energy Bars and Drinks > Clif Bar > Blueberry Crisp Bar > Test Report by Ernie Elkins

Clif Bar Blueberry Crisp

Test Series by Ernie Elkins

Personal Information

Name: Ernie Elkins
Age: 34
Gender: Male
Height: 5'9" (1.75 m)
Weight: 130 lb (59 kg)
E-Mail Address: ernie.elkins@yahoo.com
City, State, Country: Denver, North Carolina, USA

Background

I've been an avid backpacker since the late 80's. Although I occasionally venture further afield, my usual destinations are in North Carolina's Pisgah National Forest. I try to get out at least once each month, and most of my trips are two to three days in duration. I prefer solitude, so I usually hike alone. I also prefer a light and simple gear kit -- my base weight ranges from about 8-12 lb (3.6-5.4 kg) depending on the season, destination, and trip duration.


Initial Report

May 6, 2007

Packaged Product PhotoProduct Specifications

Manufacturer: Clif Bar & Co.
Year of Manufacture: 2007
Manufacturer's Website: www.clifbar.com
MSRP: Not Provided
Listed Weight: 2.4 oz (68 g)
Measured Weight (Packaged): 2.5 oz (71 g)

Product Description

On the product sheet that I received from Clif Bar & Co., they tout their new Blueberry Crisp bars as having a "wholesome and hearty flavor that tastes homemade." The key ingredients include certified organic oats and almonds, as well as real blueberries. They're made from all natural, 70% certified organic ingredients and contain "no artificial sweeteners, colors or preservatives" and "no trans fats, hydrogenated oils or high fructose corn syrup." With regard to nutrition, they note that Blueberry Crisp bars are a "good source of protein," are "rich in antioxidants," contain "23 vitamins and minerals," and are designed to provide "nutrition for sustained energy."

Like all Clif Bars, the Blueberry Crisp bars are packaged in foil-lined, plastic pouch. For easy opening, Clif Bar has indicated a "tear here" location on the top seam. When torn as instructed, the side of the wrapper pulls away so that you can easily remove the enclosed bar. The package is marked with a clearly stamped "sell by" date (Clif Bars have an 11-month shelf life) and also provides the federally mandated "Nutrition Facts" and list of ingredients, both of which I've provided below.

Bar Detail PhotoThe actual bar itself weighs about 2.4 oz (68 g), measures 3.4" (8.6 cm) long by 2.1" (5.3 cm) wide, and is approximately 0.75" (1.9 cm) thick. The exterior is grainy, slightly sticky to the touch, and the bar has a pleasant aroma of blueberries and oats. I noticed several large almond chunks, as well as what appear to be blueberry pieces.

I've copied the following information, including the "Nutrition Facts" image, directly from the Clif Bar website:

Ingredients: Organic Brown Rice Syrup, ClifProô (Soy Rice Crisps [Soy Protein Isolate, Rice Flour, Malt Extract], Organic Roasted Soybeans, Organic Soy Flour), Blueberry Fruit Pieces (Organic Evaporated Cane Juice, Blueberry Puree Concentrate, Brown Rice Syrup, Pectin, Citric Acid, Sodium Citrate, Natural Flavor), Organic Rolled Oats, Organic Dry Roasted Almonds, Organic Evaporated Cane Juice, Organic Toasted Oats (Organic Oats, Organic Evaporated Cane Juice), ClifCrunchô (Organic Oat Fiber, Inulin [Chicory Extract], Organic Milled Flaxseed, Organic Oat Bran, Psyllium), Blueberries (Blueberries, Apple Juice Concentrate), Organic Date Paste, Almond Butter, Organic Sunflower Oil, Natural Flavors, Sea Salt, Citric Acid.

Vitamins & Minerals: Dicalcium Phosphate, Magnesium Oxide, Ascorbic Acid (Vit. C), Tocopheryl Acetate (Vit. E), Ferric Orthophosphate (Iron), Beta Carotene (Vit. A), Zinc Citrate, Phytonadione (Vit. K1), Biotin, Niacinamide (Vit. B3), Calcium Pantothenate (Vit. B5), Potassium Iodide, Manganese Gluconate, Copper Gluconate, Sodium Selenite, Thiamin (Vit. B1), Chromium Chloride, Cyanocobalamin (Vit. B12), Sodium Molybdate, Folic Acid (Vit. B9), Riboflavin (Vit. B2), Pyridoxine Hydrochloride (Vit. B6).

Allergen statement: Contains soy and almonds. May contain traces of dairy, peanuts, and other tree nuts. We source ingredients that are not made using wheat, dairy, and are not genetically engineered. May contain nutshell fragments.

Nutrition Facts

Initial Taste Test

As I've found with other Clif Bar products, the Blueberry Crisp bar looks and tastes like real food cooked in a real kitchen. The bar has a dense, chewy, and slightly crispy texture, and the flavor is pleasantly mild and authentic. The bar's blueberry flavor is noticeably superior to that found in a lot of so-called blueberry products, and it blends nicely with the oats and nuts. The large almond pieces add a satisfying crunch, and the bar's sweetness is nicely balanced by its hearty taste. The portion size is reasonably satisfying, although I will admit to wanting to tear into another one after sampling the first.

Test Plan

I have several moderately strenuous backpacking trips planned in the coming months, and I'll evaluate the Blueberry Crisp bars both as a key part of my morning meal and as a mid-afternoon, energy-boosting snack. Will they provide the "sustained energy" that Clif Bar promises? I'll seek to answer that and several other important questions over the course of the testing period. Other questions include:

  • Will I continue to enjoy the bar's flavor and texture, or will it lose some of its appeal after repeated consumption?
  • Will the bars hold up well in my pack? Will they crumble or stick to their wrappers?
  • How will temperature affect the bar's density? While I'll definitely get a chance to test their performance in hot weather, I'll probably need to rely on my freezer in order to test the bar's cold-weather tolerance.

Summary

I'm very satisfied with my initial taste test. Clif Bar's marketing claims about the bars' flavor are admirably accurate - they truly do have a hearty, wholesome, homemade flavor.

This wraps up my initial report. Please check back in early July for my field report, when I'll share my conclusions about the Blueberry Crisp bars' performance on the trail.


Final Report

July 15, 2007

Field Conditions

Iíve consumed the Blueberry Crisp bars during the course of two backpacking trips for a total of five days on the trail. The first was a three-day loop in North Carolinaís Black Mountains. The trails in the Blacks are very steep and rugged, and I covered about 19 miles (30.5 km) over the course of three days. The second was an out-and-back trip on the Appalachian Trail along the North Carolina/Tennessee border. On this trip, I hiked about 18 miles (29 km) in two days. Daytime highs for both trips ranged from the 70ís to low 80ís F (21 to 26.7 C), and my fully-loaded pack weight for both trips was in the 16 to 18 lb (7.3 to 8.2 kg) range.

Evaluation

In order to better gauge the Blueberry Crisp bars overall effect on my energy level, I decided against eating one with breakfast as I had originally planned. Instead, I ate one bar as a mid-morning snack and one as a mid-afternoon snack for each day that I was in the field. Because the bars were the only food that I consumed between meals, I was able to judge their performance more accurately. I was impressed by what I found Ė after consuming one bar, I was able to hike for 2-3 hours before I began to grow hungry again. Moreover, the bars really did provide the sustained energy that Clif Bar promises, without the familiar crash that comes from products that rely too heavily on sugars.

Despite the fact that Iíve consumed two per day for as many as three consecutive days, Iíve continued to enjoy the flavor and texture of the Blueberry Crisp bars. The oats, almonds, and blueberries all blend nicely to create a mild and satisfying flavor, and the barsí dense, chewy, and slightly crispy texture is pleasant in my mouth. I have concluded, though, that theyíre slightly sweeter than Iíd prefer.

The Blueberry Crisp bars have also held up well in my pack. Iíve taken no special precautions when packing them, yet the bars have consistently emerged from their wrappers in perfect condition, with no crumbling, breaking, crushing, or softening/melting in warm temperatures. Since Iíve not had an opportunity to test their cold-weather endurance, I left a bar in the freezer for 24 hours. I tried to eat the bar immediately after removing it from the freezer, but it was much too hard to bite. However, it took just 15 minutes at an ambient temperature of about 80 degrees F (26.7 C) for it to soften enough to eat with ease. In very cold weather, I suspect that placing a bar in a pocket close to my body would achieve a similar result.

Finally, Iíve also appreciated the easy-open packaging, which makes it possible for me to open and eat a bar while never actually touching the bar itself. Since itís slightly sticky to the touch, this means that I donít have to deal with sticky fingers, nor do I have to pause to wash or disinfect my hands while on the go.

Summary

In all respects, Clif Barís Blueberry Crisp bars are the perfect backpacking food. They consistently taste good, they provide reliable and sustained energy, theyíre conveniently packaged, and theyíre durable enough to withstand rough handling and a wide range of temperatures. As I mentioned above, I would prefer that they were slightly less sweet, but I realize that sugar content plays an important role in energy foods. Iíve noticed that the sugar content of all of their bars falls in a narrow range (18-21 g), so I suspect that the sugar content has been carefully calculated and that changing it isnít advisable.

This concludes my test of the Clif Bar Blueberry Crisp bars. Iíve thoroughly enjoyed testing them, and Iíd like to thank both Clif Bar and BackpackGearTest.org for giving me this opportunity.



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