The 100 calorie bar is a miracle of modern food science. Oftentimes packing nearly its namesake number in ingredients, it walks a line somewhere between candy and snack, nutrition and novelty. The varieties read like the demonic catalogue of Milton’s Paradise Lost, with familiar faces of Chocolate Peanut Butter Pretzel, S’mores, and Cookies and Cream promising no less in temptations. Tempting is not how I’d describe many of these, however. From the 90-calorie Special K bars my mother included in my lunch during Middle School, to the ubiquitous and puny Quaker Chewy bars which come in dozens of varieties, the 100 calorie barrier of on-the-go snacking affords us little more than a few bites of relatively ordinary sweetness and texture.
It’s physics, really, and asking something more of something which promises to provide the equivalent of roughly 1/25th my daily energy expenditure is asking a lot. But still, one can hope, can’t he?
Such was the case when I ran across a shopping cart full of clearance markdown Lucky Charms Cereal Bars before work the other day. Having decided to save the $1.15 I could have spent for a bagel at Einstein Brothers, I felt more than justified in an impulsive purchase of several of the bars – priced at 15 cents each – and decided to munch away. Small they may be, but my love of cereal likes portion control. Besides, I tend to tread carefully when purchasing childhood favorites labeled with the Big G Whole Grain promise. All due respect to the childhood obesity epidemic, but it’s my recent experience that cereals designed to counter this crisis – with their reformatted whole grain texture and lower-sugar ratios – pale in comparison to the titans of complete breakfast they once were. Lucky Charms seems particularly more sucky as of late, comprised of fewer marshmallows and less flavorful oat pieces. I blame Michelle Obama.
The bars overcome this defect with remarkable precision. They have just the right amount of sticky give that makes them the Lucky Charms equivalent to a Rice Krispie treat, and even more dexterity than their more compact elf-themed bar. Neither marshmallows nor oat pieces dominate, and, perhaps surprisingly, the dehydrated marshmallows in the bar hold a completely separate and fruit(well, not really) taste and texture profile than the marshmallow binder. What comes together is a sweet and crunchy (while still chewy) version of the classic cereal, which gets all the taste of milk and none of the hassle of actually pouring it with the yogurt coating on the bottom. ‘Yogurt’ of course, is a pretty liberal definition. But palm oil and nonfat milk notwithstanding, the marshmallows – still exhibiting a sticky glue and holding their original shapes – poke through the coating, gaining sticky and lickable crunch when kept in a lunchbox after a hard day of working the soft serve machine.
I can’t say I’d spring the 2.50 for a box of these, but I will go on record of saying that this was the best 15 cent purchase I’ve ever made at a grocery store. It’s also the most fun I’ve had with a Micro Machine Tiger Tank in a while, although I doubt the original panzers could have traversed such a treacherous environment. Clearly, had then United States deployed gigantic Lucky Charms cereal bars in Operation Overload, the war would have been over by the 4th of July.
Lucky Charms Cereal Bars
- Price: .15 cents each (clearence)
- Ranking: 8/10
- Chances I’d Buy Again: 50%