We may not have much snow here, but we frequently drive out into the desert to go hiking and exploring. Add to that the fact that we drive very old vehicles and I believe we'd be just plain foolish to be caught out without some food and water for an emergency.
But it can get just a wee bit warm (i.e.-scalding hot) here in the summer. That means that the protein bars that I have always kept in the car weren't going to work. They kept melting. Even if they didn't have chocolate it seemed there was something in them that just didn't like the heat. If they could withstand the heat, they didn't have enough protein and nutrients to be a good emergency food.
I went searching for something that would fit the bill. It needed to be a high-calorie, high-protein food (or bar) that could withstand the heat without melting or otherwise breaking down. Ideally, it would also be free of artificial junk.
A quick Google search led me to several different brands/types of bars. After much research, I narrowed my choices down to 4 different types of bars. There were homemade versions too, but I wanted to taste the pre-made ones first before I ventured out on my own. I had no idea what the texture, taste, or...anything of these bars should be. I had never tried anything like this before.
I wasn't sure which bar we should buy. I read numerous reviews online. They varied quite a bit...and some of them only included two or three of the bars. Plus, some of the things people mentioned not liking seemed like taste preferences. For example, some of them are coconut flavored. If someone didn't like coconut, then they'd rate those bars as lower. However, someone who does like coconut (like most of my family) might actually like those bars.
Plus, I have control issues. I didn't want someone else telling me what I should or shouldn't like. So...I decided to just try all of them myself. That way, what we ultimately got would be something we'd eat before it expired so that the purchase wasn't a complete waste if no emergency happened that required their use.
These bars were carried on both Amazon and a site called Emergency Essentials. When shipping costs were taken into account, it was cheaper to order from the latter.
I'll give you just about all the info I could think of on each of these bars as well as our personal review of each of them. Wait 'til you get to the end. There was a bar that, according to my children, tasted like perfume. How, pray tell, my children knew WHAT perfume tasted like is beyond me.
Here are the bars we ordered and tried:
|SOS 3600 Calorie Food Bar|
- Ingredients: Sugar, Enriched Wheat Flour, Partially Hydrogenated Vegetable Shortening (Soybean and Cottonseed Oils), Corn Starch, Wheat Gluten, Dextrose, Desiccated Coconut preserved with Sodium Metabisulfite, Corn Syrup, Contains less than 2% of each of the following: Soy Lecithin, Guar Gum, Calcium Propionate Preservative, Citric Acid, Salt, Ascorbic Acid, Ascorbyl Palmitate, Niacin, Vitamin A Palmitate, Riboflavin, Thiamine Mononitrate
- In other words: A bunch of junk including soy that I try to avoid as well as artificial additives & corn syrup.
- Price (at Emergency Essentials): $6.25 but currently on sale for $5.49
- What it Looks Like: This consists of 9 individually-wrapped bars each worth 400 calories. All 9 bars are vacuum-packed into mylar (a stronger foil) packaging.
- How did it taste? Are we surprised that this was the best-tasting one of the bunch? I'm not. And since our point was to have something that everyone would eat and enjoy in a time of emergency...this is one of the two that I have chosen to get more of. If this were something we were planning on consuming on a regular basis, I would not be getting any more of it. It did have a slightly coconut flavor, but it wasn't very strong. I'm not a huge fan of coconut-tasting things and I really liked the taste of this bar.
|Datrex 3600 Calorie Food Bar, Picture Courtesy of Emergency Essentials|
- Ingredients: Wheat flour, Vegetable Shortening, Cane Sugar, Water, Coconut, and Salt
- In other words: To say that I love the ingredients list for this product would be an understatement. I would love them even more if the vegetable shortening was coconut oil, olive oil, safflower oil, or...you get the idea. That's about the only ingredient in this bar that I didn't like because it could have soy.
- Price (at Emergency Essentials): $6.95
- What it Looks Like: This consists of 18 individually-wrapped bars each worth 200 calories. All 18 bars are vacuum-packed into mylar (a stronger foil) packaging.
- How did it taste? Most of us felt that this bar wasn't as good as the first one. It was the first choice of my oldest daughter. The rest of us considered it our 2nd choice finding it a bit too sweet compared to the SOS bar. We also found this bar to be a bit crummy. (How would you spell that?) The first bar didn't really fall apart at all when we were eating it. This one did a bit. It wasn't too bad, but it was noticeable.
- Worth a Second Note: The GREAT ingredients list (or excellent lack thereof) makes up for any bad points in this bar (in my opinion). It's the other one that we're going to keep on hand. It's lack of soy means it will be a first choice for me even though I didn't like the taste of it as well as the SOS bar.
|Mainstay 3600 Calorie Food Bar, Picture Courtesy of Emergency Essentials|
- Ingredients: Enriched Flour, (Added Vitamins A, B1, B2, D, E, B6, B12, Niacin, Iron, Folic Acid, Magnesium, Pantohenic Acid, Calcium, Phosphorous), Vegetable Shortening, Partially Hydrogenated Soybean &/or Cottonseed Oils, Granulated Sugar, Corn Starch, Corn Syrup, Natural Lemon Flavor, Artificial Butter Flavor, Artificial Vanilla Flavor, Tartrazine, FD&C Yellow #5, FD&C Red #40, Artificial Color, Ascorbic Acid, Vitamin C, Gamma/Delta Tocopherols as a natural antioxidant
- In other words: Again, a bunch of junk including soy that I try to avoid as well as artificial additives & corn syrup. Plus in this one, we get to add artificial colors.
- Price (at Emergency Essentials): $8.50 but currently on sale for $6.95
- What it Looks Like: This consists of 9 bars each worth 400 calories. All 9 bars are vacuum-packed into mylar (a stronger foil) packaging. However, these bars are NOT individually-packaged. Once you open the mylar package, ALL of the bars are opened.
- How did it taste? This was okay, but not as good as the first two. It had more of a lemon taste than the other two did.
- The Bottom Line: This bar was certainly palatable. I'd eat it if there were nothing else. However, the horrible ingredients, bad packaging, and high price just make it the worst value of the 3 we've tried to far.
|Millenium Food Bars, Picture Courtesy of Emergency Essentials|
- Ingredients: Sugar,Vegetable Shortening (Partially Hydrogenated Soybean & Cottonseed Oils), Enriched Bromated Flour Bleached (Wheat Flour, Enzymes, Niacin, Reduced Iron, Potassium Bromate, Thiamin Mononitrate, Riboflavan, Folic Acid), Corn Starch, Wheat Gluten, Dextrose, Desiccated Coconut, Corn Syrup, Contains 2% or Less of the Following: Soy Lecithin, Natural & Artificial Flavor, Guar Gum, Calcium Propionate (Preservative), Citric Acid, Salt, Ascorbic Acid, Ascorbyl Palmitate, Niacin, Vitamin A Palmitate, Riboflavin, Thiamin Mononitrate
- In other words: A bunch of junk including soy that I try to avoid as well as artificial additives & corn syrup. Again. This bar is made by the same company that makes the SOS bars which explains the nearly identical ingredients list. The taste, however, is VERY different (see below)
- Price (at Emergency Essentials): $9.95/9 bars in a variety pack or $1.20/bar if bought individually
- What it Looks Like: Each bar is vacuum-packed into it's own mylar (a stronger foil) packaging worth 400 calories.
- How did it taste? These bars are a bit different. There are 9 different flavors. You can either get a variety pack containing one of each flavor like I did, or you can just order 9 of your favorite flavor or flavors. However, you do need a full 9 bars to get 3600 calories worth of bars if that's what you're going for. While the ingredients list is, remarkably, identical on each bar...the taste is not. Because of this, I will list the taste of each flavor individually.
- Coconut: We all like this flavor. In fact, it's about the only one that we all agree on. It looks and tastes pretty much the same as the SOS bar that the company also sells. I suspect they ARE the same bar. If this is the flavor you like, though, then it's much cheaper to just buy the SOS bar.
- Blueberry: My kids thought it was "okay" and said they'd eat it if they were trapped in a closet after a tornado. Um. Okay? That's encouraging. I think. I thought it wasn't very good, but I'd also eat it if trapped in a closet after a tornado. My husband spit it out. And that man eats just about anything.
- Apricot: Two of my kids said this was "okay". The rest of us didn't like it at all. After my reaction and the previous blueberry "debacle", my husband refused to taste it. I don't blame him.
- Lemon: My husband really liked this one. I thought it was okay. The kids didn't really prefer it, but said that they'd eat it if they had to. (No mention of a tornado for this one, though, so take that as you will.)
- Orange: We all agreed that this one seemed to taste okay at first, but had a NASTY aftertaste. It was really unexpected and really bad.
- Vanilla: We all thought this was nasty. I'm pretty sure my husband only tasted it because he'd been distracted by "tweeting" and hadn't noticed our responses to it.
- Raspberry: The kids didn't like this one. My husband said he'd eat it if he "had" to. I suppose I would too.
- Cherry: One daughter thought this was the best of the Millenium bars. The rest of us thought it was good. I wouldn't call it my favorite, but I'd eat it even if I weren't trapped in a closet after a tornado.
- Tropical Fruits: What can I say? I saved the best for last. Well, perhaps not the best in so much as the W.O.R.S.T. of them all. My children almost immediately responded by spitting this bar out & stating that it "tasted like perfume". Um. When did you last EAT perfume? And as bad as it sounds, their reaction was so startling and awful...that my husband & I had to taste it as well. And, um...we both agreed that it did, indeed, taste like perfume. And neither of us has ever eaten perfume before either. Sometimes, I guess you just know these things. Like that we will never again spend money on this bar. I wouldn't recommend that you do so either. You know, unless you want to know what perfume tastes like without actually tasting perfume. (Why do I know that some of you are going to purchase this bar JUST to know what perfume tastes like? Don't worry. I would too.)