The Clif Bar Obsession

When I was a weightlifting, wrestling, defensive back teenager, I was also a connoisseur of protein bars. I knew all the varieties, how many grams of protein they offered, how much they cost, etc. When I moved to Colorado in 1998, that connoisseur-ism continued. And generally, I found that each gram of protein cost 10 cents, the best bars often had the consistency of grout or dry-mix concrete, and most had about as much sugar as they did protein. Hey, face the facts, my generation grew up munching Snickers bars because they “really satisfy.” If it’s not a bar, your mom probably made you eat it for dinner once along with brussel sprouts and water chestnuts (shudder).

Flash forward to a couple of months ago when Botched warns me against my adenosine-inhibiting double-fudge bars (brand name not disclosed). Rats, well there goes my ride energy source. They had been these conveniently small-portion bars that were supposed to supply me with OH so much energy. Or whatever. So it was time to look for a new energy source to fill the tank on my bike.

Conveniently, my local grocery store had a sale on almost all of their energy bars. I could go back to the slightly expensive Snickers Marathon bar, but when you have a weak jaw (like I do), a stiff Marathon Energy bar can wear your mouth muscles out pretty quickly, despite the fact that they’re flippin’ delicious. I could head for the funny-tasting Detour bar, but again this is a whey protein candy bar disguised as being healthy, and just no good for rides. I could try out Luna bars, but aren’t they for women? The last thing I need is some extra-feminine soy combined with folic acid and estrogen (nothing personal against those who possess large quantities of said hormone).

Then suddenly, there was the answer: Clif Bars were down to 60 cents a bar for the special. These famed Clif Bars that I had read all the buzz about over at Fatty’s. The yuppie bars that only rich people could afford. That would give me an opportunity to try out each and every flavor in its cliffy goodness. So I grabbed a variety (“one of these, one of these, one of these, and, oh, two or three of these” just picture a kid in a candy store with Bill Gates’ checkbook) and immediately got to sampling the different recipes: Chocolate Chip Peanut Butter Crunch, Cookies and Cream, Chocolate Chip, Chocolate Almond Fudge, Crunchy Peanut Butter, and finally, the ultimate: Chocolate Brownie (No, I didn’t try the raisin ones, what do you take me for? A sicko? Raisins are nasty). I am a little curious as to why they had to distinguish it as Chocolate Brownie. Have you ever really had a brownie that wasn’t made of chocolate? What flavor was it? What did it actually taste like? Just curious.

So I’d found my miracle bar. Phew! Close one. I stocked up a week’s supply—10 bars or so—and then found myself eating them at every juncture. Skipped breakfast? Eat a Clif Bar in the car on the way to work. No time for lunch? No problem; I have a Clif Bar in my bag. Need something to reward yourself with after climbing a steep hill? Yep, Clif Bar. Haven’t eaten in six hours and won’t be eating for two more because your wife is going to teach a water aerobics class with a bunch of other pregnant ladies? Relax, have a Clif Bar.

This was all well and good, but then something happened that ruined my bliss … the sale ended. Suddenly these Clif Bars were all costing … $1.49 each. What the heck? Who pays a buck-fitty for an athletic bar? Well, I had for a 15-grams-of-protein bar in the past, but this isn’t a musclehead bar, this is an oatmeal bar. I mean, really, these people are trying to compete with the Quakers, or at least their oats, they’ve got to be pricing more economically than that. So I bought two bars, and I started stewing. Until I had a brilliant idea … WalMart. Oh yes, they will be mine.

So I marched proudly into WalMart, ready to receive my expensive product for a lower cost. I probably looked like all of the other weirdos in WalMart until I got to the Clif Bar shelf and discovered that my favorite flavor isn’t available at the cheaper price. Then I looked even weirder. And in the end, I settled. I went for Chocolate Chip Peanut Crunch, and I even found it in the six-bar pack for $5.50 (that means I’m down to 90 cents a bar—not too bad). And yes, I’m back to eating them four times a day. I just hope I have some leftover for my next ride.


40 thoughts on “The Clif Bar Obsession

  1. Jord

    Clif bar eh?  haha nice
    Long time no see, when you coming back to the call center?  Just too good for us eh? Have to hangout with the bigshot management/administration people in the home office.
    You\’ll have to share one of these clif bars sometime, I\’m curious now.

  2. Zed

    It\’s been a pretty busy week, Shmazord. We ought to get together and go hit Kelly Canyon again some time. It\’s a blast in the middle of the night when you can\’t see anything. I\’ll give you a call when you\’re off work. If you make it to the ski hill, I\’ll give you a Clif Bar.

  3. Tom Stormcrowe

    Favorite Bar: ClifSecond choice: Zone BarBoth at Walmart! Chocolate Chip and the Chocolate Brownie Clif are the best, and in the Zone, get the peanutbutter,Graham bars, or the fudge peanut butter!Protein bars: Atkins bar, creamy Cinnamon, (Tastes like a sticky bun, mmmmmmmmm!) but you may need a toilet, all of these are moderate Glycemic index with a mix of mono and disaccharides for sustained energy and slow uptake of the sugars. In other words, no rush then crash!

  4. Unknown

    My favorite bar is McSorleys.  If I can\’t have that… Clif bars are okay, I guess.  They call them "Clif" because they are made out of the same stuff cliffs usually are, a combination of granite and other igneous rock. 
    The black cherry chocolate is okay.  The peanut butter chocolate is okay.  They have one with mint and chocolate which is okay, except for the vaguely uneasy feeling it gives you, that you are about to throw up.  I think it\’s the minty flavor that does that.  Stay away from the lemon / carraway one.  Lemon /carraway makes a nice muffin, but take the muffin and stick it in a tin foil pouch, age it in the trunk of your car for six months and then try to down it using the last gulp of water on a 60 mile group ride… then substitute the muffin with a dense, dry little oatmeal biscuit that wasn\’t very soft to begin with… well, let\’s just say that the acid reflux goes away when the scratches in your esophagus heal. 
    The only thing that makes Clif bars edible is that there is a way to eat them without tearing out your own throat inadvertantly thanks to their scratchy goodness.  Take a modest bite of Clif bar. Chew it for a while.  Make sure it\’s good and soggy – kind of like reconstituted oatmeal, which is what it is.  Start to swallow it.  As it goes down, it will get stuck.  Do not panic.  Do not request a little Heimlich help.  Just reach down to your water bottle (pinky side up), pull the bottle, and take a healthy pull.  Swallow, if you can.  If not, have another pull on the bottle.  Now the bar should slide down easily.  Replace the water bottle in the carrier.  Repeat. 

  5. Zed

    Al- McSorley\’s? Never heard of \’em. Maybe it\’s an eastern thing. But yes, I agree, Clif Bars definitely have the oatmeal thing going. I think that might be why I like \’em–they\’re oatmeal-ish. Maybe I really am turning into one of those granola-eating outdoorsy yuppie-folk.

    UncaDan- I\’ve never tried that one either. Metabolic Drive. I\’ll have to check it out.

    Tom- I\’m glad you share my taste in Cliff Bars. With regard to protein, though, have you ever tried Tiger\’s Milk? Or BioProtein? Then there\’s the only good PowerBar in existence: the peanut butter-chocolate protein plus bar.

  6. Unknown

    McSorley\’s.  My favorite bar.  Worth a try, though it\’s only good if you are on an exceptionally long ride.  A lot of riders in NYC swear by it.

  7. Unknown

    Clifbar Blackcherry Almond is the best.  I found last year that this flavor clif bar had a special property.  If you stick one in the pocket of a jersy, where it gets heated up by your body and the sun for a couple hours, the bar gets a delicious crusty sugar coating that is just heavenly.

  8. Zed

    Al- I checked out the site, but all I could find was beer.

    Botched- Did you check the freshness seal on your package? No really, I\’ve never tried that flavor, warm or cold. I\’ll have to get back with you about that one.

  9. BIg Mike In Oz

    What\’s wrong with a Mars bar for energy and Fourex for refreshment?
    Never heard of Fourex?  Come to Australia and you will never stop hearing about it.  Think McSorleys.

  10. Zed

    I haven\’t seen Mars bars around since I was in Canada. I don\’t know why not, though, they were super-tasty. I\’d probably be a few pounds heavier if they were around this area.
    I thought Foster\’s was Australian for beer. Or was that false advertising?

  11. Unknown

    wait – can\’t name the undisclosed double fudge bar? i\’m curious, as i am a woman of cliff bar standards, but recently tried something whose name i can\’t remember (promax?) and really liked the taste….

    i also have taken to unsanctioned cliff bar snacking. this is supposedly the same as eating candy bars, tho, with the sugar content. i used to buy them at trader joe\’s (idaho probably doesn\’t have one of those, but they sell \’em rather decently priced) but recently found them at cost co. boxes of 24 for $5 or 6 bucks.

  12. Unknown

     Al- I checked out the site, but all I could find was beer.
    You say that like there\’s something shameful about it.  FWIW, an integral part of the fixed gear lifestyle, near as I can tell, is taking it out to the pub.  Okay, well, it\’s not integral, but the bike is a natural for pub runs. 
    As for unsanctioned snackies – stay away from the Cliff Shot Blocs, is all I can tell you.  The lemon lime – tasty enough, in a Gatorade kind of way.  Cran-Razz and Strawberry – let\’s just say that these can\’t be kept in the house.  If I need some for a long ride, I stop by the LBS on Friday night, right before closing time, and hope we have a really big dinner and I won\’t feel hungry later.  Otherwise, like the black guy in pretty much any zombie flick, they aren\’t going to make it \’til morning. 

  13. Big Guy on a Bicycle

    My personal fave is the Black Cherry Almond, too, but I just got a couple of the all new Banana Nut Bread flavored ones at  the local grocery store.  I haven\’t tried one yet, but soon, very soon…

  14. Tim D

    I am not a great one for energy bars.  I bought a load of mis-shapen ones at Polaris a few years ago.  They were a block about 18" x 8" x 6" wrapped in celophane.  I left them in the car while we rode the first day.  When I got back they had melted into a big gloopy mess.  I put them in the fridge when I got home  and ended up with a single solid brick.  You used up more energy getting a piece off than the piece actually provided.
    My friend at work has taken to eating meal replacement bars.  I tried a Chocolate and Orange one.  The way they help you to loose weight is not because it replaces a meal, but because it makes you so nausious you bring up anything you\’ve eaten that day and you can\’t face any food for several hour after.
    My usual trail food is Fig Balls, made by my wife.  These were from a recipe in Bicycle magazine and can be very tasty.  However, if you get the consistency slightly wrong, they can be a bit dry.  By a bit dry I mean once you remove them from your pack, you can hear moisture being sucked from the air around you.  Your first bit dries up and saliva in your mouth.  YOu visibly wrinkle and age as you eat.  It takes an entire bottle to wash one down.  When they are right though, they are fantastic.

  15. Tom Stormcrowe

    Tim, sounds like an alternative to bariatric surgery……..meal replacement bars and dry consistency fig balls!

  16. Zed

    Erica- so does that mean you can hook me up with some inexpensive Clif Bars then?

    Al- I just kept looking around the site for some sign of granola bars or something. I saw some Clif Shots around the store, but I haven\’t picked any up yet. I\’m still debating about Jelly Belly Sport Beans. It\’d be nice if I could find some of those in WalMart.

    TimD- I have yet to attempt a homemade bar. I guess if you find the right recipe, you\’re set, right? I just don\’t trust myself that much in the kitchen.

    Botched- Fine! Take your stinkin\’ potatoes! We didn\’t want them anyway. But once you people become hooked on them as your main energy source, we\’ll send a dark mist of stinking disease across your potato fields just like we did to the Irish.

  17. Unknown

    Alton Brown made several energy bars on "Good Eats" last night. I\’m going to make some this weekend. The great thing is they ony cost @ 5 cents apiece and looked very tasty. I will report next week.

  18. Unknown

    Nutritionists usually suggest eating something during high intensity OR long duration efforts that have very little fibre.  The bars that Stormy gave the recipe for seem to have a quite a bit if fibre.  I\’d definitely leave out the oat bran fibre.
    Looks pretty good, especially for low/intermediate intensity efforts.

  19. Unknown

    Not to rain on your manly parade or anything, but you can eat Luna Bars. The main girly things about them are the pastel packaging and the smaller size (chicks are smaller, therefore need less food). I read the fine print very carefully and did not see estrogen listed as an ingredient….

    Plus they\’re tasty. You should at least buy a couple and eat them in secret where no one can question your manliness. I highly recommend the peppermint stick flavor.

  20. Zed

    No worries about the parade. I admit, I made up the estrogen part. I was actually hoping to elicit humor with that one, but it appears I\’ve failed miserably. I very seriously doubt the FDA would approve an estrogen granola bar without some serious drug warnings on it. I just couldn\’t think of anything else feminin to mention on there.
    I might just take you up on the recommendation. The Luna girls mountain bike squad actually has some pretty big wins to their name, and some decent mt bikers (Vanlandingham\’s their chief at the moment, I believe).
    But hey, at least I managed to get a comment out of you. You must\’ve figured out how to get logged on over here, eh?

  21. Unknown

    I could always get logged on, but I would write a comment and hit the "publish" button over and over again and nothing would happen. Must\’ve been a bug that they fixed, or something.

    And damn the internet, humor doesn\’t work. I got that you were joking, and I was being a smartass right back, but, well, whatever. Anyway, eat Luna Bars, they\’re tasty.

    On the subject of marketing ploys, Nate has some male-targeted body wash that comes in a dark blue bottle with a red cap and says "Won\’t Wash Testosterone Away!"

  22. Zed

    Whoops, my bad. I think we need an internet-recognized symbol to indicate sarcasm. We have "j/k" which literally means "I\’m one of those obnoxious bubbly people in real life, and I\’m just trying to be funny" but we don\’t have anything that says, "I\’m being sarcastic, moe-ron!" Hmmm. Any suggestions?
    Oh, and I don\’t know what that comment thing is all about, but it\’s happened to me too. They must\’ve figured it out, because I haven\’t had a problem in a while.

  23. UltraRob

    I live a few blocks from the bakery for Peak Bar.  Since they\’re one our club sponsors, we can go in and get whatever they have available for practically nothing.  I\’ve been avoiding going in because when I have them I eat them as a big cookie when I\’m just sitting around.

  24. Zed

    I know, they\’re so good, and you can\’t tell yourself "It isn\’t healthy to be eating so many of these" because, hey, they\’re athletic health food. That\’s the whole point.

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