Most that know me personally are aware that I worked for Trader Joe’s as a package designer. (As my LinkedIn profile asserts… if you’ve ever shopped at Trader Joe’s there is a great chance that my handiwork is in your pantry.)
During my tenure at TJ’s I was part of a weekly tasting panel responsible for testing and tasting all kinds of products… everything from cold pressed juice to funky aged cheeses to gluten free bagels. When it came to taste-testing bars I always had very strong opinions. I argued that most of Trader Joe’s bars were loaded with a bunch of unnecessary ingredients, primarily fiber. Not even real fiber, but fake chicory root fiber. “No one wants 30% of their daily fiber on a run,” I insisted.
I haven’t worked at TJ’s in well over a year, but on a shopping journey this past weekend I picked up a new product, Trader Joe’s ABC Bars, or, Almond Butter Cocoa bars. Conceptually, I am not sure the name of this product is working nor is the descriptor which reads, “soft and chewy chocolatey dough with creamy almond butter filling.”
When thinking about fuel, especially on the bike, criteria that is important to me includes: portability, nutritional value(s), ingredients, performance and taste. This bar nails every concern and then some.
You can only jam so much fuel in your jersey or fuel belt. These bars are just slightly larger than a traditional GU packet making it possible to store 2-3 (or more) bars without feeling weighted down. (Each bar weighs 1.2OZ)
The bars clock in at 160 calories which is awesome. To me that’s the sweet spot of caloric intake, i.e. not being too little or too much thereby sending the digestive tract into overdrive. At 19g of carbs, only 2g of fiber, 4g sugar and 4g of protein this bar is well formulated. The ingredients are super clean with nothing artificial–and NO MALTODEXTRIN!!! They are also vegan and gluten free.
The bars eat well while in motion because they are not hard, dry or too large. Two bites will get this down. They aren’t sticky but have a moist consistency making it easy to swallow. I found that they give a nice evenly delivered source of energy.
Last, these taste really fucking good. The cocoa isn’t overly chocolate tasting and the almond butter balances out the flavors.
The best part? One box of six bars is only $2.99. That is crazy considering how much performance bars, gels and other fuel costs. Basically, .50¢ for an amazing little bar that is not advertised or promoted as athlete fuel.
I can only hope TJ’s doesn’t randomly discontinue this product because I think it’s going to be my go-to bar for race season. Let me know what you think!