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Reviews > Food > Energy Bars and Drinks > Clif Bar > Margarita Shot Bloks > Test Report by Ernie Elkins

Product Shot

Clif Shot Bloks
Margarita w/Salt
Organic Energy Chews

Test Series by Ernie Elkins

Initial Report: January 24, 2008
Long Term Report: May 17, 2008


Personal Information
Name: Ernie Elkins
Age: 35
Gender: Male
Height: 5'9" (1.75 m)
Weight: 130 lb (59 kg)
E-Mail Address: ernie.elkins@yahoo.com
Location: Denver, North Carolina, USA
I've been an avid hiker and backpacker since the late 80s. In a typical month, I spend two to three days in the field, and I usually travel 10-20 miles (16-32 km) per day. I prefer to travel light: my base pack weight (excluding consumables) averages about 8 lb (3.6 kg) in summer and 12 lb (5.4 kg) in winter.

Initial Report
January 24, 2008

Product Specifications

Manufacturer: Clif Bar & Co.
Year of Manufacture: 2008
Manufacturer's Website: www.clifbar.com
MSRP: Not Provided
Listed Weight: 2.1 oz (60 g)
Measured Weight (Packaged): 2.1 oz (60 g)
Product Closeup
Product Description

Clif Shot Bloks Organic Energy Chews are Clif Bar & Company’s “latest nutrition option for endurance athletes.” As they explain on the company website, “Bloks come in chewable, 33 calorie cubes, making it easy to customize and track caloric and electrolyte intake during long outings and races.”

With three times as much salt as other Shot Bloks, the Margarita Bloks are specifically formulated to prevent muscle cramps. Here’s a brief description from the product package, courtesy of Gary, Clif Bar Founder and Owner: “For 20 years, I dealt with a common problem many endurance athletes experience – CRAMPING! I’ve had to pull out of bike races and stop running marathons, until a few years ago when I discovered that taking in extra sodium – good old salt – solved the problem. Margarita Bloks, made with Real Salt, combine carbs, electrolytes, and extra sodium into one simple solution for athletes looking to prevent cramping.”

Each bag of Shot Bloks contains six cubes, each of which weighs 0.35 oz (10 g). The Bloks themselves measure roughly ” (1.3 cm) square at the base and ” (1.3 cm) tall, and they gently taper toward the top. They’re slightly sticky and feel very much like gummy candy.

The bags include a “tear here” label on the upper left hand corner, although the serrated top and bottom edges make it easy to tear into the package at any point. Although each package contains a total of two servings, Clif Bar hasn’t provided a method for resealing the package once you’ve opened it.

Ingredients: Organic Brown Rice Syrup, Organic Evaporated Cane Juice, Organic Brown Rice Syrup Solids, Pectin, Sea Salt, Citric Acid, Natural Flavor, Organic Sunflower Oil, Carnauba Wax.

Nutrition Facts

Nutrition Facts courtesy of Clif Bar & Co. website at www.clifbar.com.

Initial Impressions
Although I won't be able to evaluate the performance aspect of the Margarita Shot Bloks until I hit the trail, I thought a trial run would be in order. The package was easy to open and the individual Bloks were easy to remove from the package with my fingers. They proved to be soft and easy to chew at room temperature (65 F/18 C), and they began to dissolve before I finished chewing them. While they’re definitely salty, that’s moderated by both a slight tartness and a slight sweetness, and the end result is surprisingly pleasant. While I wouldn’t go so far as to call them delicious, I certainly have no initial objections to the flavor. I did notice a residual saltiness in my mouth, so that when I took a drink of water it too tasted salty. I also noticed that my taste buds felt slightly “burned” (for lack of a better word), much like they do after rinsing my mouth with salt water.
Test Plan

In the coming months, I'll be testing the Margarita Shot Bloks while hiking and backpacking in a variety of state parks and national forests in the Carolinas. Here are some of the questions that I’ll attempt to answer:

  • Especially on long days, when I’m trying to cover as many miles as possible, will the Margarita Shot Bloks provide a noticeable performance boost?
  • Will the Bloks cause any unpleasant aftereffects (upset stomach, etc.)?
  • Will I continue to enjoy the Bloks’ Margarita flavor, especially after consuming one or two bags in a day? In my initial taste test, I noticed that the Bloks’ saltiness lingered on my palate. Will that prove to be an annoyance?
  • Will the Bloks' texture and consistency be affected by the ambient temperature? Will they be hard to chew when it’s cold or sticky when it’s hot?
  • Will the packaging be as easy to open in the field as it was initially, especially when my hands are cold and I’m wearing gloves? Will the fact that the package isn’t resealable be a problem?
Summary
I’m definitely pleased with the flavor of Clif Bar’s new Margarita Shot Bloks, and I look forward to testing them on the trail in the coming months. I’ll post my conclusions in late April, so please check back then for my final report on this very intriguing product.

Long Term Report
May 17, 2008

Test Locations & Conditions

Over the last several months, I’ve consumed Clif Bar’s Margarita Shot Bloks on two day hikes and three backpacking trips for a total of nine days in the field. My destinations were all in North Carolina and included two state parks (Lake Norman and Crowder’s Mountain), the Black Mountains, and the Linville Gorge Wilderness Area. The terrain varied from gentle in the state parks to steep and rugged in the Blacks and Linville Gorge, and I traveled about 10 miles (16 km) per day while backpacking and 13.5 miles (22 km) per day while day hiking. Daytime temperatures ranged from the 30’s to the 70’s F (0 to 24 C).

Observations

My first day in the field with the Margarita Shot Bloks was a fast-paced hike along the Lakeshore Trail in Lake Norman State Park. I made two circuits of the roughly 6.7 mile (11 km) trail in just over four hours, and, in order to pick up my pace, mixed hiking with occasional jogging. I ate a lunch about an hour before beginning my hike, and I consumed one bag of Shot Bloks during each circuit. They proved to be a remarkably convenient and effective energy source – the bags were easy to open, each Blok was easy to chew and swallow while moving, and they staved off hunger and provided sustained energy throughout my hike. Furthermore, I really enjoyed the Margarita flavor, and my concerns about their lingering saltiness on my palate didn’t prove to be an issue (they’re much more mellow than sharp). They did, however, encourage me to drink more – my water intake jumped by about 25%.

After an additional eight days on the trail, many of which were long and exhausting, I’m still enjoying the flavor and convenience of the Margarita Shot Bloks. I’ve experienced no unpleasant aftereffects as a result of consuming them, I’m drinking more than usual (which is definitely a good thing), and they’ve handled a relatively wide range of temperatures without any significant changes in their physical properties. As I mentioned above, the bags are easy to open, and the fact that they aren’t resealable hasn’t been a problem – the Bloks’ slightly sticky exterior helps keep them in the bag, yet, conversely, they’re easy to get out of the bag and don’t leave me with sticky fingers. I have noticed that my teeth begin to feel a little dirty and sticky after eating a bag or two of them, but that’s been a relatively minor annoyance.

The one element of the Shot Bloks’ design about which I’m unable to draw any conclusions is their cramp-reducing qualities. I didn’t experience any cramps during the test process, but that’s not in any way unusual – I’m not an endurance athlete, and cramping just isn’t a problem that I face in the course of a day hike or backpacking trip.

Summary

I’ve thoroughly enjoyed testing Clif Bar’s Margarita Shot Bloks. They’re a convenient and flavorful source of sustained energy whose mellow saltiness encourages good hydration. In light of their positive performance, the only negative (sticky teeth) hardly seems worth mentioning.



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Reviews > Food > Energy Bars and Drinks > Clif Bar > Margarita Shot Bloks > Test Report by Ernie Elkins



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