When you live with food allergies for long enough, you inevitably come to associate certain visuals with danger: logos and packages that provoke in you not hunger or craving but fear, resentment—maybe even a sneer as you push your sorry cart down the aisle. I have dons of these associations: the quadricolor KIND logo; the gold foil of the Ferrero Rocher; those chicken stock–looking cartons of Almond Breeze; anything wrapped in that beige tone that evidently signifies “I contain almonds”; the plump, happy shape of a jar of Nutella…
You have yours, too, I’m sure. Maybe the aggressively rugged tan sack that holds the CLIF Bar is among them. It was for me—but not anymore, because I’ve just found out that CLIF Bar & Company is actually a rather allergy-friendly brand with a very reliable labeling policy. Their website’s Dietary Considerations page has a column for “allergens: contains” and one for “allergens: may contain traces of,” and as I’ve been assured by a few different CLIF employees, you can assume that bars without nuts listed in either of those columns weren’t made on shared equipment with anything nutty. (Of course, you’ll always find the most up-to-date information on the label itself, which is to say that should the label and the website disagree, you ought to trust the label.)
That—the fact that there are nut allergy–friendly CLIF Bars on this planet—is the good news. The bad news? Right now, there are only four nut-free flavors…and one is seasonal. (There are some nut allergy–friendly Luna Bars, Zbars, and BUILDER’S Bars, too, but those aren’t the subject of this post, are they?) There’s Apricot, Chocolate Brownie, Coconut Chocolate Chip, and Hot Chocolate. All four contain soy, and all may contain traces of wheat and dairy (with the exception of Apricot, which is dairy-free), and all (like most CLIF products) are kosher, too.
As for taste, CLIF Bars are…well, they taste a lot like you’d expect. They’re marketed as that impossible triad: easy, healthy, and tasty (“CLIF BAR is a great-tasting energy bar made with a nutritious blend of organic rolled oats and wholesome ingredients for sustained energy”), but what are they, really? There’s no denying that they’re easy—to find, to cart around, to eat, whatever. But good for you? Not particularly. They’re packed with sugar—like, candy-bar levels of sugar, which means that if you’re looking for nutrition, you’re probably better off staying away. Actual nutritional-value aside, though, CLIF Bars do have a little of that health-food grit to them. But for what they are (or what they’re meant to be, I guess), CLIF Bars taste okay.
I haven’t tried the Apricot bar (I’m vaguely allergic to apricots, I think), but I’ve certainly eaten my fair share of the Chocolate Brownie and the Coconut Chocolate Chip, and I have to say, I definitely see the appeal. They’re sweet enough, and they both have a nice, chewy texture to them. Plus, they’re ridiculously filling, and I’m a total sucker for the novelty of eating normal-people foods—especially those particular normal-people foods I’ve spent my life afraid of. So there’s that.
Find CLIF Bars wherever. (I buy them exclusively at NYU, with whatever Dining Dollars [i.e. campus currency that disappears at the end of the semester] I don’t spend on shampoo and Chick-fil-A, but they’re available at just about every store on the planet.)