BackpackGearTest
  Home Guest - Not logged in 

Reviews > Food > Energy Bars and Drinks > LARABAR Jocalat Bars > Test Report by Larry Kirschner

LÄRABAR Jŏcolat Bars


TEST SERIES BY LARRY KIRSCHNER
Larabar Jocolats

INITIAL REPORT - December 23, 2007
LONG TERM REPORT - April 22, 2008


TESTER INFORMATION

NAME: Larry Kirschner
EMAIL: asklarry98@hotmail.com
AGE: 43
LOCATION: Columbus, OH
GENDER: M
HEIGHT: 5' 9" (1.75 m)
WEIGHT: 200 lb (90.70 kg)

I've been an intermittent camper/paddler since my teens, but now that my kids are avid Boy Scouts, I've caught the backpacking bug. I typically do a few weekend hikes per year, although now that my sons are older, I have had the pleasure of 2 weeks backpacking at the Philmont Scout Ranch in Cimmarron, New Mexico and 2 weeks of canoeing in the Canadian wilderness. I like to travel "in comfort", so I often pack a little heavier than needed, but I'm trying to cut down. With all of my investment into this trip, I expect my wife and I will continue to trek long after the kids are gone…


INITIAL REPORT
December 23, 2007

PRODUCT INFORMATION & SPECIFICATIONS

Manufacturer: : Humm Foods, Inc.
Year of Manufacture: 2007
Manufacturer's Website: www.larabar.com
MSRP: US $32.00 (per box of 16)
Listed Weight: 1.7 oz (48 g) per bar
Measured Weight: 1.5 oz (42 g) per bar on analog scale
Dimensions: 3 x 1.4 x 0.7 in (8 x 3.4 x 1.8 cm)


INITIAL IMPRESSIONS

The LÄRABARs come packed as a box of 16 bars of a single flavor, and there are four different flavors: chocolate, chocolate coffee, chocolate mint, and and chocolate orange. The different flavors share their main features, although each has a distinct taste, which I will address under the heading of "Trying it out"

First of all, LÄRABAR strongly emphasizes the fact that their products are organic and fair trade certified. These bars are suitable for any type of diet (aside from those allergic to cocoa), as they are vegan and kosher, and contain no soy, dairy, or gluten products. They also have no added sugar.

What they do contain is large amounts of dates, which provides much of the bulk of the bars, as well as many of the nutritional characteristics. In addition to the dates, each bar contains almonds, cocoa, and organic flavors. The cocoa is comprised both of cocoa power and "organic cocoa mass", which is apparently ground up cocoa beans. Although 90% of the ingredients are raw, the cocoa beans are roasted before being ground.

What does this combination produce? First of all, these bars are high in fiber, and I can attest to the fact eating 1 bar per day is sufficient to keep me regular. The fruit, along with the nuts and cocoa, also provides (according to the product literature) significant quantities of antioxidants, omega-6 fatty acids, 13 essential vitamins and minerals, and phytonutrients. All of this is provided for a modest 190 calories per bar. The bars also provide modest amounts of caffeine, in the range of 5-7 mg/bar. The exception is the chocolate coffee flavor, which has 32 mg/ bar (about as much as half a cup of coffee)

In terms of storage and carrying on the trail, the Jocolat bars are made to tolerate extremes of both hot and cold, although they may become softer or harder depending on ambient temperature. It is worth noting that the bars have a shelf life of about 1 year, so they are not made to last "forever".


TRYING IT OUT

To date, I have sampled each of the four varieties of LÄRABAR Jŏcolats for the test. These were eaten at work or at home instead of lunch. They all have the same consistency, which is well-formed but slightly mushy. There are large chunks of almonds in the bars, which give them a nice texture. The first bar I tried was the chocolate-coffee flavor, and about 10 minutes after I had eaten it, I felt a sort of rush, which I initially thought may have been due to the caffeine. However, I have had the same feeling with all of the flavors, so I think it may actually be due to the fruit sugar, but I'm not sure. For me, I feel it like an energy rush, and it seems to last for an hour or so. There seems to be a long-lasting effect as well, as I usually don't feel like eating anything for at least 4-5 hours after I eat a LÄRABAR.


Now to the flavors (and I will discuss them in the order that I tried them):

Chocolate coffee: I will confess that I am not a coffee drinker, so I found the taste of this flavor very bitter. It has a very heavy chocolate taste coupled with the coffee, which I found not unpleasant. This is the type of flavor which I could get used to and like a lot more after having a few, or I might burn out on the bitterness. I will see as I make my way through the box of 16 bars.

Chocolate Mint: The mint flavor is not strong, but it comes as a good complement to the cocoa flavor that is present in the bar. I liked this flavor.

Chocolate Orange: This flavor is rather unusual. It reminds me a lot of the chocolate-covered orange peels that my parents used to eat when I was a kid. It also has a taste somewhat similar to the liquor Grand Marnier (although my wife commented that it smelled like cough syrup). I don't really care for either of those tastes myself, and I'm not a big fan of this either (at least not yet). I would rank this one below the coffee flavor as a preference at this time, but I will also see if my taste changes as I eat a few of them.

Chocolate: The plain chocolate flavor does NOT taste much like a chocolate bar, as it is much less sweet than that. It has a taste similar to a carob bar, which are also usually made without added sugar. I found the flavor good, and I would certainly not mind having one of these on the trail.



TEST PLAN

For the Field test, I will taking some LÄRABARs with me on my various hiking and camping trips over the next few months. For day hikes, I expect to use this as my main source of food to see if I still get that rush of energy on the trail, and how long it lasts. I also want to see if my taste preferences change after having a couple more of them, or even if eating while I am actually on the trail changes my perception of the taste of any of the bars.


This concludes my Initial Report on the LÄRABAR Jŏcolat Bars. Please check back in 3 months for my Final Report on this item.


Back to Top



LONG-TERM REPORT
April 22, 2008

FIELD EXPERIENCE

I have taken LÄRABAR Jŏcolats with me on all of my hiking and camping trips over the past few months, which have included a cold-weather (0 F, -18 C) weekend campout in Findlay, OH, day hikes in February and March, and another weekend trip in the Akron, OH area in mid-April. In addition to this, I have taken LÄRABARs with me for energy during sporting events and have also used them as a quick snack and/or lunch while on the go during my regular work day. Over this time, I have eaten approximately 10 of each of the four types of LÄRABAR Jŏcolat bars, and I think I have had enough of them to file my Long-Term Report.

First off, I would like to comment on the taste of the Jŏcolats. I wrote in my IR about my early impressions of each type of bar. Having had the chance now to eat a whole bunch of them, I am actually more appreciative of all of the flavors than in my IR. I have even come to appreciate the orange flavor, which I never thought I would actually like. When eating these bars, it is important to remember that they have no sugar in them, so that they do not taste the same as a regular chocolate bar or energy bar. When I had my initial taste of the Larabar flavors, it was in the setting of my "usual" diet, which contains a "usual" amount of sugary foods. However, I have found that when I am on the trail, all of my food has much less sugar, so that the bars do not seem so different in flavor. In fact, when I am out, I prefer non-sugary food. Under these conditions, I developed much more of an appreciation for the re subtle flavorings used in these bars. I still think that I like the mint best followed by chocolate, but I have no problems eating the coffee and orange flavors, and sometimes actually have developed a craving for one or the other!

In terms of the consistency of the bars, it takes a little getting used to, but it is not unpleasant. It is also worth noting that I have had the bars out in very cold weather (down to 0 F/-18 C) and they do not have an appreciable change in consistency. The same is true when the weather is hot out. I actually left my bag with 2 bars in it in my car on a day when it reached about 80 F (27 C) outside, and was much warmer in the car. Even in these temperatures, the LÄRABARs had only a minimal change in consistency, being just a little bit softer than usual. One thing that adds to the consistency are the large chunks of almonds, and I really like the big, crunchy ones, and even wish there were a few more in there.

The next topic worth discussing regarding the Jŏcolat bars is their function as energy bars. I noted in my IR getting a "buzz" after eating the first one or two. I am happy to say that this went away quickly, so maybe I was just excited about them. Nevertheless, I have found that the Larabars provided a good boost of energy when I was starting to run out of gas. About 15-20 minutes after a LÄRABAR, I could definitely notice feeling better, and one bar could sustain me for at least 3-4 hours under normal conditions. As noted above, each bar only has 190 calories, so they don't last forever, but they definitely provided me with a good pick-me-up at the end of the day to get me back home.


SUMMARY

Overall, I definitely think that the LÄRABAR Jŏcolat is a good product for the trail. It provides a good energy boost. It is compact and does not crumble when thrown under other gear in a pack and tolerates high and low temperatures without much effect. I still have a few bars left, which I will continue to take with me on future trips. Once I run out, there is a good chance I will get them again for extended hikes.

Things I liked about the Larabar Jocolats:
  • I actually liked the variety of flavors (and might suggest to LÄRABAR to market a "variety pack")
  • Tolerate temperature variation extremely well
  • Good energy boost at only modest calories
  • Suitable for any diet, including vegetarian/vegan and Kosher. As an added bonus, I note that they can be considered Kosher for Passover, as they have no grain products!
  • Love the big, crunchy almonds in them
Things I disliked about the Larabars
  • Texture takes a little getting used to, as does sugar-free taste
  • Other than that, no real dislikes

This concludes my report on the LÄRABAR Jŏcolat Bars. My thanks once again to LÄRABAR for providing these bars for testing, and to BackpackGearTest.org for allowing me to participate in the evaluation process.

-larry kirschner

Back to Top

Read more reviews of LARABAR gear
Read more gear reviews by Larry Kirschner

Reviews > Food > Energy Bars and Drinks > LARABAR Jocalat Bars > Test Report by Larry Kirschner



Product tested and reviewed in each Formal Test Report has been provided free of charge by the manufacturer to BackpackGearTest.org. Upon completion of the Test Series the writer is permitted to keep the product. Owner Reviews are based on product owned by the reviewer personally unless otherwise noted.

If you are an avid backpacker, we are always looking for enthusiastic, quality reviewers. Apply here to be a gear tester.


All material on this site is the exclusive property of BackpackGearTest.org.
BackpackGearTest software copyright David Anderson