I eat granola bars constantly. They are the best portable snack, and when they taste good, it's basically like having a candy bar (without the guilt). When they taste bad, however, granola bars can be the bane of my existence. I remember hating the blandness of the Peanut Butter Power Bars, but being forced to eat them because my mom somehow loved them.
Now that I pick my own snacks, I figured I'd provide an exhaustive guide of the available granola bar offerings so no one has to go through the pain that I did.
Flavor Variety: Kind puts their bars into categories—Original, Fruit & Nut, Plus, and Nuts & Spices—and there are tons of options in each.
Taste: It's an unpopular opinion, but I honestly don't love the taste of Kind Bars. The individual ingredients are yummy, but the bars feel like they are glued together and the taste reflects that. Kind Bars would not be my first choice, but they are an okay option.
Aesthetic: Kind Bars are pretty much the PSL of granola bars. Almost everyone likes them, but they're fairly basic and can be purchased at your local Starbucks. They're sleek with their metallic wrappers and feature trendy ingredients like Madagascar Vanilla and Black Truffle Almonds.
Nutrition: Larabars range from 190-220 calories. They all contain fewer than nine all-natural ingredients (always dates), and they are kosher, vegan, non-GMO, soy-free, dairy-free, and gluten-free (so all allergies are welcome).
Flavor Variety: Coming in 22 unique flavors, such as Cappuccino and Lemon Bar, Lärabar has good mix of fruity and sweet bars. Unlike other granola bars that come in pretty basic flavors like chocolate chip and oatmeal raisin, Lärabar provides a fresh take on the PB&J and Chocolate Chip Cherry Torte.
Taste: It took me a while to truly enjoy Lärabars. Unlike many bars, where you cannot taste the individual ingredients, each flavor is clear in these bars. This certainly shows the natural benefits of Lärabars, but it also makes them harder to enjoy unless you like dates and nuts. Each bar does take on the flavor it represents, but there is an overarching date taste.
Aesthetic: Lärabars are pretty bougie. The brand markets itself as a "whole food" bar with natural flavors and "indulgent ingredients." Suggest this bar to your friend who only shops at Whole Foods (aka me).
Nutrition: These bars are around 200 calories, and they are chock full of proteins (7 g) and carbohydrates (21 g). Luna has recently revamped their bars, reducing their sugar count to 5 g or less.
Flavor Variety: Luna Bars range between fruity (Blueberry Bliss and Lemon Zest), sweet (Chocolate Cupcake and Chocolate Peppermint Stick), to nutty (White Chocolate Macadamia and Honey Salted Peanut)
Taste: I view Luna Bars as a good bar to keep in your bag just in case. They pack a lot of granola into each bar, so they are filling, but the sweet flavors provide a good balance. The taste is somewhat bland, so it would not be my first choice, but they are a perfect backup plan.
Aesthetic: Luna Bars are the trendy younger sister to your basic granola bar. They are a little sweeter and more fun, and their flavors are a bit more sophisticated, but, like any younger sibling, they are often not taken as seriously unless they are isolated from their older sibling.
Nutrition: Clif Bars are a bit higher in calories, ranging from 250-260 calories per bar. However, most of those calories are coming from proteins and carbohydrates, not fats, so expect these bars to keep you satisfied for longer.
Flavor Variety: They are pretty basic in flavors, providing the usual offerings of chocolate brownie, trail mix, and chocolate peanut butter. Expect more flavors around the holidays (with seasonal options such as hot chocolate, gingerbread, and pumpkin pie).
Taste: These bars taste like granola bars. Perfectly crunchy with equal distribution of chocolate chips, nuts, or raisins (depending on your flavor preference), Clif Bars are, by far, my favorite granola bars.
Aesthetic: Clif Bars are about as crunchy and granola-y as granola bars get. They may come in sweet flavors, but Clif Bars are going to provide the most strength and sustenance out of any of these bars. Pack one when you're hiking; Clif bars are perfect for any athlete (or college student in yoga pants, same difference).
Nutrition: At surface level, Quest Bars are incredibly healthy: they are 160-180 calories, contain 20-21 grams of protein, and have a high level of fiber. But they are full of artificial sweeteners like erythritol and stevia, so eating too many of these bars might lead to an upset stomach and digestive issues.
Flavor Variety: These bars come in loads of sweet flavors like s'mores and mint chocolate chunk.
Taste: In my opinion, these bars taste fake. There is an overpowering artificial sweetener taste that reminds me of when I put too much Splenda in my coffee. Some people cook these bars like cookies, but I don't like their sweet taste.
Aesthetic: These bars remind me of Kayla Itsines. Quest Bars are the kind of bars you eat if you want to be healthy (and get that #bbgtransformation) but also get the craving you desire. Quest even advertises themselves as a #cheatclean bar, so eat Quest Bars if you're working for your beach bod but also want to eat a sheet of Oreos.
Overall, I would recommend Clif Bars as the top choice for granola bars, but Lärabars are a good option if you are looking for a unique flavor. Kind Bars and Luna Bars always work as a good backup, and I would stray away from Quest Bars unless you can handle the artificial sweetener. I hope that next time you find yourself picking out your afternoon granola bar, you feel slightly less overwhelmed by the brand options.