“ Brand: Ryvita / Type: Cereal Bar „
~~~~~~~~~~ INTRODUCTION ~~~~~~~~~~ Ever since I made a serious commitment to losing weight, I have been on a seemingly fruitless quest to find the perfect cereal bar. Having sworn off chocolate, I needed something to help me stave off sugar cravings every now and again, and although I tried - valiantly - to do this with fruit, somehow bananas, apples and grapes just didn't cut it. Having tried the disappointing Kellogg's Special K "Fruits of Forest" bars (see my separate review), I was keen to try another one with a "berry" theme. Perusing the bewildering choice of cereal bars at my local supermarket, I spotted this Ryvita offering and decided to have a closer look. ~~~~~~~~ PACKAGING ~~~~~~~~ The packaging is fairly functional. The word "goodness" - written in large red curly type against a light beige/cream background - is the dominant feature. Underneath the writing is a claim that each bar has only 3% fat and 61 calories. The Ryvita branding is relatively modest in comparison with the rest of the labelling. The box front also has a small section describing key nutritional information. The side panels contain further, more detailed nutritional information, a customer help-line number and guarantee, a full list of ingredients, and warnings that the product: (a) contains oats, rye and barley; and (b) may contain traces of milk and soya. The bar is suitable for vegetarians. The back of the box makes further claims of health benefits, mainly that the product: (a) is low in saturated fat; (b) high in fibre; (c) contains no added sugar, artificial colours, flavours or preservatives; (d) contains wholegrain oats and rye; and (e) is pre-biotic. The best before date is stamped on the bottom flap. There is also a plug for their Cranberry & Apple and Strawberry varieties. The main ingredient (at 38%) is wholegrain cereal (predominantly oat and rye flakes), followed by fruit (at 27% and including concentrated apple juice, currants, cranberries and blueberries). There are a few more ingredients to round it out, but all of them are natural and healthy, with nary an "E" colour, artificial sweetener or odd sounding additive in sight. ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~ CASH BACK & REWARD SCHEME ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~ On the front of the box I bought was a "Try it Free!" sticker. If you log on to www.ryvitarewards.com and sign up (providing your name, address, DOB, and e-mail details), you can enter the unique code printed inside the box to get up to £1.89 back, as long as you do this before 31st July 2009. Claims are limited to one per household. I haven't done this yet, but intend to do so, as it's not often you can try things for "free". The site also operates a loyalty scheme. If you enter the code in each box, you are given points which can them be redeemed for various items (vouchers, DVD's etc.). I prefer to base my buying decisions on the quality and value for money of the product, but I suppose a loyalty scheme for cereal bars may appeal to some(one). ~~~~~~~~~~~ INSIDE THE BOX ~~~~~~~~~~~ There are six (6) individually tightly wrapped tightly packed 23 gram bars in the box. Ryvita have not wasted any unnecessary space in wrapping or boxing just to make things look bigger. Most of the information available on the box is re-printed (in much smaller type) on each wrapper. Helpfully, there is also "best before end" date stamped on each one, which means you can throw away the box (which can easily be recycled) if you want to. I store mine in a large plastic box with other varieties and brands. ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~ APPEARANCE, TEXTURE & TASTE ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~ The wrapper is relatively easy to open, and at first glance, I was confronted with an unappetising looking rectangular mass of closely packed grain and fruit. However, the aroma of berries, especially cranberry and currants, is pretty intense and quite appealing. There is an earthy sweetness about it, and despite initial reservations about its looks, I was quite looking forward to tasting it. The bar is actually quite soft and a little sticky, and if you hold it in the middle, it starts sagging at the ends, which surprised me a little. It became quickly obvious that this is a bar you need to eat with wrapper firmly in place to stop it from falling apart in your hands. That said, because of its consistency, it tends to come apart in clumps and doesn't really crumb. The texture, on biting into it, was soft and chewy, followed by the crunch of the individual grains - probably the "jumbo oats" they were trying to educate me about on the box. The flavour of berries definitely comes through, as does the concentrated apple juice that is used to sweeten it. Unlike similar bars, there are no artificial sweeteners used, and so it is happily lacking in the slightly chemical aftertaste that they can leave. The flavour lingers a fair while in the mouth, as the berry taste dissipates and is replaced by the more malty, earthy grains. I did spend a fair few minutes sucking out grains lodged in my molars, but all in all, it was a fairly pleasant eat. ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~ PRICE & AVAILABILITY ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~ I bought mine at Tesco for £1.89 and think they are fairly good value at that price (the equivalent of around 30p a bar, which compares very favourably to chocolate and other cereal bars) but they are readily available at most large supermarkets. I haven't yet seen them being sold individually, but, as mentioned, you can't really go wrong with the "Try It Free" scheme. ~~~~~~ VERDICT ~~~~~~ This is definitely one of the better cereal bars I have tried of the "low fat" variety (which include Kellogg's Special K and Alpen Light bars). Despite their small size I find them filling, and the all natural ingredients are definitely a bonus. I don't think I will abandon my quest for the perfect cereal bar just yet, but this product will make do in the meantime. © Hishyeness 2009 - Previously published on ciao.co.uk under the same username.