My method of sampling, try it first, analyze it later, so I'll start with my flavor impressions:
- Dark Chocolate Raspberry Almond: I sampled this one first as I was having a chocolate craving and was not disappointed in regards to the chocolate, there are plenty of chunks of it in this bar. There are also whole almonds and some dried raspberry pieces mixed in the soft chewy oats. I would have liked a bit more raspberry presence and for me it was a bit too sweet for a breakfast bar (more on the sweetness and sugar below) but as an occasional treat / chocolate fix it is tasty.
- Honey Roasted Cashew Mixed Berry: This is probably the most balanced flavor profile of the three bars with the lightly salted flavor of the roasted cashews complimenting the sweetness of the honey and the slight tartness of the dried cherries and cranberries. This was my favorite of the three bars and the only bar I finished in one sitting as it wasn't as sweet tasting as the other two.
- Toasted Coconut Banana Macadamia Nut: One of my favorite flavor combinations when done correctly, but it can be sickeningly overpowering and unnatural when it isn't. Overall Quaker got this one right, it tastes natural, not fake and all three flavors, the coconut, bananas and mac nuts are equally present. Great flavor, but I found it to be pretty sweet and would probably only eat 1/2 a bar of this at a time.
My overall taste impression of these bars is good and I think they are a step above most grocery store granola bars in terms of flavor and sophistication. Although I am sure most kids would enjoy them, parents or kids with foodie palates would probably appreciate them more. They are fairly low in calories and would make a better snack choice than a candy bar because you are getting at least some nutrients from the nuts, fruit and oats.
My big issue and why these bars will not be on my shopping list, lies in the amount of and types of sugars and sweeteners used. In two of the bars, corn syrup is the second ingredient and it is the third ingredient in the other bar. Corn syrup, (whether high fructose or just plain corn syrup), is something I try to avoid as much as possible. In addition, reading through the labels, there is extra sugar in the cranberries and cherries, (infused not the natural sugar in the fruit itself) and a huge array of other sweeteners (some fine, some quite scary), including brown sugar, oligofructose, invert sugar, corn syrup solids, sugar,and fructose. In each 35g bar there are 8g of sugar in two of them and 10g in the cashew-berry bar. (Which is 2 tsp and 2.5 tsp respectively). In the grand scheme of things, that's about a fourth of the recommended daily amount for a 2000 calorie a day diet. In a world where so many products have sugars and sweeteners hidden in the labels, many people consume much more than that. As a label reader, trying to cut processed sugars where I can, and make better food choices, I wish, Quaker would have lightened up the overall sugar, as these bars are plenty sweet, actually in my opinion, overly sweet, and especially that they had used more natural sources for some of the sweeteners added. I wanted "wholesome" to be more wholesome!
All that being said, (climbing down off soapbox (or maybe sugar box!) now), there are some wholesome ingredients in them and in a pinch, if they were in a bowl of grocery store granola bars, they would be a better option than many of the others and as mentioned, I would rank them better in flavor and quality ingredients. I have not seen them in the stores yet, (Hawaii gets everything later than the mainland), so I don't know what their price point will be in relation to other bars, but I would imagine they might cost a bit more because of the quality and quantity of many of the ingredients they contain. Although, not a win for me personally, I do appreciate the opportunity to try them--one of the things that makes Foodbuzz so great!