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Reviews > Food > Energy Bars and Drinks > LARABAR Jocalat Bars > Test Report by Sheila Morrissey


Initial Report - January 3, 2008
Long-Term Report - March 17, 2008

Initial Report: January 3, 2008

Name: Sheila Morrissey
Age: 27
Gender: Female
Height: 5 ft 8 in (1.7 m)
Weight: 155 lb (70 kg)
Email Address: geosheila(at)yahoo(dot)com
City, State, Country: Goleta, California, USA

I have been backpacking since 2005. Most of my trips have been from one to three nights in length on trails in the Sierra Nevada or Los Padres National Forest. My pack typically weighs around 25 lb (11 kg), including consumables.

Manufacturer: LÄRABAR
Year of Manufacture: 2007
Manufacturer’s Website:
Listed Weight: 1.7 oz (48 g) each
Measured Weight: 1.8 oz (51 g) each
Measured Size: 1.5 cm (0.6 in) x 8 cm (3.1 in) each
MSRP: US$32.00 per box (16 JŎCALAT bars)
Flavors, nutrition facts and ingredients:


Chocolate Coffee


Chocolate Mint


Chocolate Orange


LÄRABAR JŎCALAT are energy bars available in four chocolately flavors: chocolate, chocolate coffee, chocolate mint and chocolate orange. The bars are all made primarily of dates and nuts. They are all rectangular, brown, somewhat sticky (not as sticky as dates) and have visible pieces of nuts. LÄRABAR makes a number of environmental, health and diet claims about the bars: the cocoa is Fair Trade Certified, the ingredients are organic and non-GMO, there is no added sugar, they are Pareve Kosher certified, the bars and the facility where they are made are peanut-free, and the bars are also gluten-free, soy-free and vegan.


I think it's a little strange that these bars are named JŎCALAT ("a centuries-old word" for chocolate) since they are all primarily made of dates, not chocolate. Dates and nuts are one of my favorite snacks and, since chocolate makes everything better, I was excited to try these JŎCALAT bars. Since I have so many of the bars to eat during this test, I went ahead and tasted each of the four flavors for this initial report. None of the bars taste as sweet as plain dates and nuts alone, probably because the unsweetened cocoa is rather bitter. Though they're not as sweet as I expected them to be, I like the taste of all the JŎCALAT bars. 

The Chocolate flavor is probably my favorite so far. I can easily taste the dates and the unsweetened cocoa. The almonds are in large enough chunks that they are recognizable and I was glad to find that they were crunchy as well. The Chocolate Coffee flavor is even less sweet and has a strong coffee bean flavor. The taste of the hazelnuts in it is also noticeable. The Chocolate Mint flavor is my least favorite JŎCALAT bar so far. Even though I'm usually a fan of peppermint, especially when paired with chocolate, the peppermint flavor in this bar is a bit overpowering. The Chocolate Orange bar has a very strong flavor of bitter orange rind, but the date flavor is still quite noticeable.


Long-Term Report: March 17, 2008

I ate the
JŎCALAT bars while backpacking, hiking, conducting field work, and after biking. During this test, I took two weekend backpacking trips in Los Padres National Forest. On the first trip, I camped at an elevation of about 4,500 ft (1,370 m) and the nighttime temperature was around 35 F (2 C). On my next backpacking trip, I camped at an elevation around 2,000 ft (600 m) and the nighttime temperature was around 40 F (4 C). My other activities were all near sea level in temperatures near 65 F (18 C). There were so many bars that I ate one for breakfast occasionally on my way out the door during the week and I also shared a bunch of them with my hiking partners. In all, I probably ate at least nine of each flavor of JŎCALAT bar.

Like I wrote in the initial report, the taste of the
JŎCALAT bars was not at all what I was expecting. Had I read the ingredients carefully before tasting them, I wouldn't have been surprised, but I thought they would be much sweeter. Though they were different from what I expected, I really liked all four of the flavors.

At first, my favorite
JŎCALAT flavor was the plain Chocolate bar. It really tasted just like dates, nuts and unsweetened cocoa. I found that as I polished off all of the JŎCALAT bars, the Chocolate flavor got kind of boring for me. I still liked it a lot, but it was the last box I finished.

The Chocolate Coffee flavor was great, even though I'm not really a huge fan of hazelnuts. According to
LÄRABAR, the caffeine content in the Chocolate Coffee JŎCALAT is about half that of a cup of coffee. The caffeine was noticeable enough for me that I avoided eating them later in the day, but the bars didn't exactly help me wake up for a morning field trip. Still, they made a great quick breakfast while packing up camp and hiking back to the trailhead, or while running out the door when I was late for class.

I liked the Orange Chocolate flavor well enough, but still found the orange flavoring quite bitter. It tasted just like the Chocolate flavor, but with a lot of orange zest thrown in.

The Chocolate Mint flavor grew on me since my initial report. It started out as my least favorite flavor and became my favorite. It has a strange metallic after taste that I really wish it didn't have, but it's still great.

Six friends also tried
some of the JŎCALATs with me at different times. One friend was already a fan of LÄRABARs, but was disappointed by the taste JŎCALAT bars, four friends liked the bars well enough, and one friend really liked them because she felt they weren't overly sweet and was convinced to go buy some more for herself.


JŎCALAT bars are held together by somewhat-sticky dates, but the bars didn't leave a sticky residue when I picked them up. The consistency would probably be best described as chewy, like a firm brownie. I didn't keep any of the bars in very extreme temperatures, it was just above freezing on my backpacking trip to about 65 F (18 C) inside my house, but the consistency of the bars didn't change very much at those different temperatures.

All of the bars have recognizable chunks of nuts. I liked the crunchiness they provided. In some cases I found whole almonds in the bars. I also twice bit into (and spit out) a piece of nut shell. It was after the first little shell piece that I noticed the label on each bar that reads, "All natural products. May contain occasional nut shells or pit pieces."

Serving Size
I found the size of these bars perfect for a snack while backpacking. They were similar in size to some other bars I have eaten before, like Luna bars, but less dense and filling than some other bars, like Clif bars. I sometimes only eat half of the more dense bars at a time and save the rest for later. With the
JŎCALAT bars, I usually ate the whole thing.


I'm not a vegan, and I do sometimes eat foods with ingredients that I don't recognize and couldn't pronounce. However, I still appreciate that these bars are made of very few ingredients, all of which I am very familiar with. I really like the taste of dates and nuts, and it's a good thing, because that covers most of what is in these bars. Some of
LÄRABARs ingredients claims weren't very important to me, like the fact that these bars are mostly raw and that they are dairy-free, but I do think it's pretty great that the ingredients are organic and that the cocoa is Fair Trade Certified.

I thought the
JŎCALAT bars tasted great and were definitely a suitable breakfast or quick snack for backpacking and hiking. At this point, I don't think they're my favorite type of LÄRABARs, even though I like chocolate a lot, but I would definitely consider buying some for variety on my backpacking trips.

  • I liked the taste of the four flavors of JŎCALAT bars, particularly the chocolate mint bars. 
  • The bars were convenient to carry and snack on while backpacking. They stuffed easily into the pockets of my pack. 
  • The bars and packaging weren't very sticky. I could throw the empty wrappers back in my pack. 
  • Though not entirely necessary, it was nice that these bars are made of only a few ingredients, that the ingredients are organic and that the cocoa is Fair Trade Certified.
  • The chocolate mint flavor has a strange, almost unpleasant metallic aftertaste (but was still great and was my favorite flavor).
This concludes my Test Series. Thank you to LÄRABAR and for providing me with the opportunity to test the JŎCALAT bars.

Read more gear reviews by Sheila Morrissey

Reviews > Food > Energy Bars and Drinks > LARABAR Jocalat Bars > Test Report by Sheila Morrissey

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