The all-influential and trend-setting folks at Quest Nutrition are back at it again with a new line of portable protein – Beyond Cereal bars. The bars attempt to emulate the mainstream cereal bar, somewhere in between the Lucky Charms 7/11-available variety and the popular Red Berry line by Special K.
As with most Quest products these bars are laced with both protein (12 grams) and fiber (7 grams), and only 110 calories each. The big difference here is the amount of sugar, clocking in at 8 grams, or four times the amount typically found in a Quest protein bar. The kicker is apparently the listed grams of sugar aren’t actually the same as the ones normally listed because they come from allulose, which has one tenth of the calories of actual sugar (despite being required to be listed in the sugar column). This is the first widely distributed product on the market made with allulose and to be honest I have no idea how it works, but its flavor is certainly more convincing than the other alternate sweeteners typically used in protein products.
The bars launched this week with three flavors and I’m going to rate and review all three from most fire to most tepid, but heads up, they’re all pretty solid.
Waffle: This bar is delicious. Immediately upon opening the package you’re hit with the strong smell of maple syrup, not the stuff that actually comes from trees but the Aunt Jemima Log Cabin Sunday morning nostalgia kind of syrup. Somehow the taste isn’t overwhelmingly sweet, and the use of allulose allows the bar to avoid the artificial Sucralose taste that sometimes plagues Quest products. The texture is soft and chewy like a Rice Krispy treat with an undercurrent of buttery graham cracker. What makes this flavor particularly intriguing is there are no other products with this profile currently on the market. If this bar were an actual cereal it would be Golden Grahams, and it’s a damn fine substitute. I had to buy this bar a second time to make sure I liked it as much as I thought and it’s without a doubt my favorite Quest product of the year.
Cinnamon Roll: Beautiful cinnamon flavor with a slight buttery toasty undertone – this bar is Cinnamon Toast Crunch all the way. It is the only one where the white drizzle on top seems to really stand out, adding a nice touch of creaminess and sweetness to highlight the spice. The spices aren’t overwhelming but are very much there, and this is the first time I’ve really marveled at the fact that this whole line isn’t actually cereal. Really cool for people with gluten intolerance to be able to enjoy something that emulates a cereal bar so well. Only downside to this one is it is the only bar of the three that has a bit of a fake sugar Sucralose flavor, even though it uses allulose as its primary sweetener.
Chocolate: This bar has less of everything. Less aroma, less sweetness, less pop on the initial bite. The texture is a bit softer but also grainier than the waffle or cinnamon, and its main strength is a deep cocoa taste. The chocolate here is not suggesting milk chocolate like Cocoa Pebbles but it isn’t as bitter as straight cocoa either. It’s got a natural chocolatey-ness that’s more convincing than most Quest products. The base flavor is not too far off from a less sweet Oreo, and doesn’t emulate any particular name brand cereal I’ve had on the market (RIP Oreo O‘s and shoutout Junk Banter for that comparison). If you’re a fan of Cocoa Puffs you will likely dig this but don’t expect it to taste exactly like the actual cereal you grew up loving.
Overall the Quest Beyond Cereal lineup is a slam dunk. They have managed to make something awesome that I didn’t even know I needed in my life and I will be a repeat customer. A quick fix snack bar that provides the comfort of a nostalgic breakfast with portability, protein, and fiber to boot. The only issue with this line is the price point – being offered at a very similar cost to a regular Quest bar in most retailers ($2.39), but only having around half the protein and fiber you would typically get at that dollar amount. A great snack but probably not suitable for a meal replacement, although you can always just crush two if you’re feeling spendy and hungry.
Overall Quest Beyond Cereal rating: 8/10
110 calories – 4.5g fat – 10mg Cholesterol – 170mg Sodium – 17g Carbs – 7g Fiber – 8g Sugar – 12g Protein