I was contacted recently by the PR Firm for Marathon Bar and asked if I would like to sample some and do a review. Being a sucker for free stuff how could I say no. I was told it was different from the Marathon Energy and Marathon Protein Bars so why not.
The package came with 8 bards (2 of each flavor: Crunchy Multi Grain, Crunchy Chocolate Crisp, Crunchy Honey Graham and Crunchy Trail Mix.) I also received a fact sheet and a press release.
The fact sheet says that the Smart Stuff brand is a healthful snacking solution that provides balanced nutrition for active minds and bodies. The bars include whole ingredients such as blueberries, cranberries and peanuts. Made with real chocolate, the bars are a snack the whole family can enjoy. The are fortified with a blend of eight essential vitamins and minerals and is an excellent source of calcium, plus each bar contains 3 to 5 grams of fiber per serving. Naturally low in sodium, the bars contain 140 calories or less per serving, plus 5 grams of whole grains with no high fructose corn syrup, artificial flavors, colors or sweeteners.
I immediately went right to the ingredients on each bar to double check that their claim of no high fructose corn syrup was true because I recently saw a Dark Chocolate Reese’s Peanut Butter cup whose ingredients are: Semi-Sweet Chocolate (sugar, chocolate, cocoa butter, milk fat, soy lecithin, vanillin, artificial flavor, PGPR, milk), peanuts, sugar, dextrose, salt, TBHQ. (Do you see dark chocolate in their anywhere?)
The bards do not contain high-fructose corn syrup and as best I can tell are made with some wholesome ingredients. There is peanuts, dried cranberries, dried blueberries and toasted oats in the bars. Enough about the ingredients you are looking for how do they taste.
My favorite bar was the Crunchy Trail Mix. This bar has dried cranberries and blueberries and I’m a sucker for dried fruit. The bar is not huge so it is perfect for a mid-day snack and it contained only 130 calories. The texture was that of other bars with the soy crisps but there was an inherent chewiness from the dried fruit plus some crunch from the almonds.
After the crunchy trail mix bar I found the Crunchy Honey Graham bar to be my 2nd favorite. I have been on a s’mores kick lately (thanks to this and this) and this reminded me of a s’mores without the marshmallow. The only thing missing was some texture. A few more peanuts or almonds would have done the trick otherwise it was excellent.
The Crunchy Multi-Grain had that granola bar flavor to it. It was chewy and sweet while adding in that extra crunch with the peanuts. The crunchy chocolate crisp bar for me didn’t do it. I know it’s chocolate and you would have expected it to be better but for me it didn’t do it. Maybe because it is a Snickers/Mars Candy product that I expected the chocolate to be different. I do know that I thought the chocolate on the other bars tasted better, but this is just my opinion.
Since I have changed my nutrition on the bike to be all liquid especially for the 70.3 distance these bars would not help me during racing, but for a mid-day snack they are perfect in that they are low in calories. I would suggest that you give these bars a try and see what you think, but I do think that they are better choices than the Marathon Protein Bar or Marathon Energy Bar for me.