3 Musketeers Mint Bar

By: Mars

Suggested Retail Price: 83 cents for two bars totaling 1.24 ounces

Taste: 3stars

Marketing: 4stars

3 Musketeers has done a fairly robust job of reinventing itself over the years. No longer a kids’ candy bar pitched by three ambiguously gay French “swashbucklers,” the brand has increasingly become a sinfully sensible diet-but-not-diet-tasting treat for office ladies (and gents) looking to drop some pounds without sacrificing (insert Cathy-inspired “ACK” here) chocolate.

The mint-and-dark-chocolate incarnation of the bar represents the latest evolution. An Enya-meets–Lord of the Rings–style commercial features a willowy stunner scampering through a fairy-infested forest while a narrator recites nursery rhyme ad copy (“The moral of the story is simple and clear: When you want mint and chocolate, make it 3 Musketeers”). The point: If you want to be an elfin fairy princess, ye burgeoning fatties, drop the giant leg of lamb and put one of these newfangled chocolate bars in your mouth.

Should you choose to follow the ad’s advice, you’re unlikely to regret it. 3 Musketeers Mint is an affable, less gooey version of a Junior Mint in bar form, two small rodlike protrusions of fluffy marshmallow-esque mint dipped in dark chocolate. There’s still a bit of the original 3 Musketeers’ whipped lightness, but the mint is front and center here, overwhelming even the chocolate. The sheer power of the flavor is enough to make the two tiny logs taste much bigger than they actually are; you’re not likely to want to do a lot more snacking while you still have their awesome mint essence ricocheting around your mouth.

Hershey’s Snack Barz

By: The Hershey Company

Suggested Retail Price: $1.05 for a 2.1-ounce bar

Taste: 4stars

Marketing: 1stars

“Snack Barz,” proudly proclaims the website, are “a good source of calcium, iron, and seven essential vitamins!” So are milkz and vitamin supplementz, but it’s fair to play up the Barz’s nutritional strengths, since the product has been positioned in a weird and seemingly untenable twilight zone between junk food and nutrient-stacked energy bar.

It shouldn’t feel strange to see a junk food bar step into the energy bar world. After all, many faux-healthy energy bars have enough sugar, fat, and chocolate to actually be candy bars. And yet Hershey’s offering feels faux faux-healthy.

The mass-produced/neat-as-a-pin appearance doesn’t promise greatness. The Reese’s Peanut Butter–flavor Barz are constructed of a strip of “peanut butter” atop a crispy layer of rice, with a strata of chocolate on the bottom. But when you bite into one, it’s actually quite good. At first, you get a mild Rice Krispies Treat flavor and texture; only after that has rolled across your palate do the notes of chocolate and peanut butter turn up, mild-mannered yet assertive. It’s a surprisingly light touch on the flavor front, which is a welcome change from the majority of American candy bars. Although the Snack Barz logo, shelf placement, and premise seem to suggest meal replacement, the Hershey’s people may have actually come up with a protein-rich (6 grams) snack that tastes as good or better than their purely dessert-oriented products.

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