REVIEW: Trader Joe’s “this pumpkin walks into a bar…” Cereal Bars

Putting it politely, I had a very “fat” adolescence. If AOL 2.0 had made it easier to start a junk food blog, I would have reviewed Cheez Doodles every single night for five years. During my weight loss journey in the ninth grade, my supportive parents stocked our home with more sensible snacks. One staple was Kellogg’s Nutri Grain Bars. While many today will criticize Nutri Grain bars as being less healthy than they advertise, they worked effectively for my diet back then. But by the time I dropped the last of nearly 100 pounds, I never wanted to eat another Nutri Grain bar again. And I haven’t, until tonight. The power of pumpkin…

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At Trader Joe’s, pumpkin joins apple, strawberry, blueberry, fig, & cranberry as things that have walked into the bar. I really hope they all get along. These bars boast that they’re made with real pumpkin and include no synthetic colors, artificial flavors, or preservatives (a direct shot at most popular cereal bars on store shelves). Boy, I sure hope the folks at Kellogg’s aren’t hanging out at the same bar or this could get violent. The box markets them as ideally suited for active lifestyles – a convenient option for those that need a quick breakfast or a snack to hold me over until I destroy those Cheez Doodles later tonight.

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These bars are soft, fresh, and chewy on the outside, much like I remember the Nutri Grain bars. I’m flooded with memories of high school and immediately want to watch Zoolander. The outside is made of wheat & oat flours and has a natural honey sweetness with a little cinnamon spice. The filling is abundant. It’s super gooey and delivers a much more pronounced textural contrast than what I remember in the Nutri Grain bars. The center is both tart and sweet, drawing heavily from the apple powder used in the filling. The use of real pumpkin and pumpkin spices (cinnamon, nutmeg, ginger, and allspice) provide a layer of complexity that complements the apple flavor. I must admit – these taste a lot more like apple than they do pumpkin. I haven’t tried “this apple walks into a bar…”, but I imagine that would be a sweeter version of the pumpkin variety. This is like a spiced apple, and it really works well for me.

Yeah, I know… Boo, hiss, “needs more pumpkin.” But pumpkin and apple is a unique combination and I can really get behind this as a distinctly fall flavor. The next time I need to lose 100 pounds (probably a few weeks from now at the rate I’m going), I would gladly turn to these Trader Joe’s “this pumpkin walks into a bar…” cereal bars.

Reminds Me Of A Much Fatter Time Rating: 225 lbs out of 10
…the Pumpkin Says “Ouch” Rating: 1 out of 10
Overall Rating: 6.5 out of 10

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6 Responses

  1. Do you like these better or worse than the nutrigrain variety? I remember liking the blueberry variety and apple. I think. For me personally, I think I would rather have a chewy kashi bar than these. (Honey almond flax, trail mix, dark mocha almond, etc). I think because I like some texture in my foods. Great review!! Keep them coming!! 🙂

  2. Junk Male says:

    Thanks for being a loyal commenter 😀 I’ll take the Trader Joe’s varieties over Nutri Grain bars all day. These have so much filing. Nutri Grain bars have a solid flavor but can feel a bit dry. Having eaten Nutri Grain Bars every day for far too many years, the TJ varieties are a welcomed improvement. No complaints about the Kashi bars here, and completely agree that their texture is more pleasing.

  3. No problem! I really love the blog and love the consistency! It’s nice to hear you like kashi as well! Favorite bar from them?

    • Junk Male says:

      We’re really glad you’re enjoying it! I’d have to go with the Dark Chocolate Coconut. Usually when I go with bars of any form, I go with Quest bars. I’m always looking for more opportunities to get protein in my diet.

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