Article and photos by Emily Waples.
19 Clif Bars. 19 wrappers. 19 semi-aggressive-slash-inspiring statements. I was ready to rank.
Most major food groups, including mac n’ cheese, ice cream sandwiches and cake have been rated. So, in the name of science, I set out to do the same with arguably America’s #1 energy bar.
Confession: I did not eat 19 Clif Bars. Instead, I harnessed the power of 32 hungry college students and their semi-discerning palates. Test-tasters were asked to rank the bars on a scale of 1 (disgusting) to 10 (divine culinary experience), and I averaged their rankings to come up with each bar’s score. I also asked each taster for comments on each bar, with some of the best making it below.
19. Nuts & Seeds: 2.6
"It had a weird texture and tasted bland."
"I love nuts, but this honestly makes me feel like a squirrel."
You might be better off leaving this bar for the small woodland creatures.
18. Carrot Cake: 3.4
"The taste isn’t awful, but it’s difficult to chew."
"It’s a muted taste."
"I love carrot cake. I hate this."
I recommend you skip the bar and go for the real thing.
17. Apricot: 4.3
"It doesn’t look good."
"It tastes like an orange air-freshener."
16. White Chocolate Macadamia Nut: 5.2
"White chocolate, just, no."
"Um, what’s a macadamia?"
Personally, I was a bit shocked this bar ranked so low, but tasters were unimpressed.
15. Black Cherry Almond: 5.4
"Not too sweet, but still ok."
"The flavor is a little weak."
14. Berry Pomegranate Chia: 5.9
"It has a lighter taste."
"It reminds me of a field of flowers, but it’s refreshing."
"I taste the pomegranate."
13. Peanut Toffee Buzz: 6
"I don’t feel the buzz."
My advice: just pour a cup of coffee.
12. Oatmeal Raisin Walnut: 6.1
"Someone tried to take an oatmeal raisin cookie and turn it into something healthy."
Tasters took this bar as an assault on the actual cookie. I thought it an acceptable alternative, but the people have spoken.
11. Coconut Chocolate Chip: 6.3
"It’s a little sweet, but not enough to yield a distinctive flavor."
"I’m a new fan of this bar!"
"The coconut is identifiable, but the chocolate gets lost."
10. Crunchy Peanut Butter: 6.4
"Tastes kind of one-note, but I still love it."
"Too. Much. Peanut butter."
I love peanut butter, but I concur with the tasters—this flavor is simply too much. Get your peanut butter fix elsewhere.
9. Chocolate Chip: 6.7
"Not too heavy, but filling enough for a substantial snack."
"I would’ve liked a little higher concentration of chocolate chips."
"Perfect balance of pleasure sweet and healthy sweet."
8. Maple Nut: 6.8
"I can really taste the maple, with a hint of pecan."
7 & 6. Tie between Sierra Trail Mix & Chocolate Chip Peanut Crunch: 7
Chocolate Chip Peanut Crunch
"It’s good, but it’s not, like, amazing."
"There’s not much peanut."
Sierra Trail Mix
"I’m a huge fan of nuts, they turn me on in a food sense, so this bar is perfect!"
"There’s a lot of peanut flavor."
"Such a good mix of sweet and salty."
5. Blueberry Crisp: 7.1
"The crisp is a lie, but the blueberry taste is incredible."
"The juice game is strong."
"Tastes a little artificial, but the texture is a good mix of crunchy and soft."
It may be fifth overall, but I’d rank Blueberry Crisp first for breakfast. Unless blueberry pancakes are available. Then go for the pancakes.
4. Banana Nut Bread: 7.6
"Not as good as my mom’s banana bread, but a delicious substitute nonetheless."
"Ok, it’s way denser than bread, but I’d eat it all day."
3. Chocolate Brownie: 7.7
"Is this actually healthy?"
"It’s too much like dessert, but still good."
"Do you have any ice cream?"
While it might not be the best post-workout food, this bar was a crowd-pleaser, and it makes a decent guilt-free snack.
2. Chocolate Almond Fudge: 8.5
"It’s very smooth, savory and delectable."
"It’s like eating a triple chocolate sundae. But it’s healthy, so it’s not like eating that."
"It’s like a dessert in Clif Bar form."
Similar to Chocolate Brownie, tasters loved this bar for its dessert-like taste.
1. Cool Mint Chocolate: 9.4
"My favorite Clif Bar of all-time."
"Even thought at first it reminded me a little bit of toothpaste, it was basically a giant thin mint."
"Delicious and filling—a breakfast that tasted like a dessert!"
Looks like the Girl Scouts have some competition.
Next time you’re stuck in the medicine/nutritionalist/vitamin/power bar aisle at the grocery store (or Whole Foods) deliberating over these semi-healthy nuggets, remember the rank, grab your bar and go…
"Embrace the elements." (Or not).
"Change your altitude." (Note: this is not Clif Bar encouraging you to go get high).
"Get lost with friends."
Or just eat a Clif Bar.
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