Another Broken Promise: Healthy Candy Bars

Halo Bars

Halo Bars

I Paid: $1.59 for a 1.3-ounce bar (prices may vary by region)

Taste: 3 stars

Marketing: 5 stars

I unwrapped a Rocky Road Halo Bar expecting a high-class, slightly healthier version of a Twix, all crunchy and crispy and covered in decent dark chocolate. I expected this based on the very appetizing packaging: white, clean background, with the Halo logo illustrated in gleaming chocolate squares. What I got was a squat, brown, non-chocolate-covered thing that looked a bit like a nutty cat turd. I guess that's what you get for 160 calories, but it was still a bummer.

Billed as "the sinfully healthy snack," Halo Bars are healthy, yes, but not sinful enough. Rocky Road was a dense cake slightly sweetened with brown rice syrup, studded with oats and crunchy nuts. Very little "sweet" or "chocolate" was at work, in contrast to lots of "nutty." And the (vegan) marshmallows promised by the name and cover illustration? Barely a presence.

The Nutty Marshmallow flavor (not to be confused with Rocky Road, which, yes, also has nuts and marshmallows) was more nut than marshmallow, but really not a ton of each. It was more like a mellow granola bar experience, with the bulk of the flavor coming from oats and brown rice syrup, with a faint peanutty aftertaste. The name is far too aggressive for the actual deal. It should be called Pleasantly Bland 'n' Very Dense.

Best of all was the Honey Graham variety. Although it was also dense and granola bar–like, it tasted like real honey.

Trying to make Halo Bars go one-for-one with conventional candy bars is a recipe for disappointment, no matter how cool their wrappers are. On their own terms, however, they're an interesting riff on soft granola bars, and deserve a look.

James Norton edits the Upper Midwestern food journal Heavy Table. He's also the coauthor of a book on Wisconsin's master cheesemakers. Follow Chowhound on Twitter, and become a fan on Facebook.

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