REVIEW: Quest Beyond Cereal Protein Bars
*Updated 14 November 2016: The review that follows was prepared when these bars were introduced as Quest Protein Crunch Bars, available to members of Quest Labs. Three of the bars have now been released with the name Quest Beyond Cereal Protein Bars. The official release only includes three flavors: Cinnamon Bun, Chocolate, and Waffle. The review has been updated with the final nutrition information, and pictures have been updated.
After remaining somewhat quiet since launching the Pumpkin Pie Quest Bar that tasted nothing like pumpkin, Quest is back with a bang! The company recently announced approximately 50,000 new products simultaneously, all out of nowhere. We have three more flavors of traditional Quest Bars: Blueberry Muffin, Oatmeal Chocolate Chip, and Rocky Road. We have brand new keto products for people on an ironic diet where you eat nothing but fat in order to lose it. We also have new recipes to their protein chips because the old ones weren’t that good. And finally, we have the most intriguing item yet: Quest Protein Crunch Bars!
So what the hell are Quest Protein Crunch Bars? Hard to say. The packaging describes them as “cereal-flavored protein bars.” But none of these are flavored like Lucky Charms or Sugar Cookie Toast Crunch, so I don’t understand. Are they cereal bars with added protein, then? Nope. They’re currently being advertised as “uncereal” bars. WTF? Quest President and Co-Founder Tom Bilyeu explains:
“Quest Protein Crunch Bars – it’s our take on the cereal bar, but we’re not allowed to call it cereal, because by definition cereal is made from grains, and we’ve actually done something that’s never been done before, which is we made a ‘cereal’ out of milk protein and whey protein isolate.”
Got it? Didn’t think so, but it doesn’t matter. All you need to know is that one of these bars is flavored like waffles. At press time, Quest Protein Crunch Bars are only available to members of Quest Labs – a top-secret, super-exclusive testing community. To obtain access, you must complete a series of obstacles such as entering your e-mail address and that’s it. (Sign up for Quest Labs here)
Each Quest Protein Crunch Bar is between 100 and 110 calories. They all have 12g of protein, so the protein-to-calorie ratio is excellent. They pack a higher carb punch than normal Quest Bars, sitting at 18-19g, or 3-4g net, for roughly half the calories of the traditional bar. One thing that may alarm you on the label is the high sugar content. Hold on, though. These bars are sweetened with allulose, a probably-made-up sugar that only contributes 5% of the calories that traditional sugar delivers per gram. Apparently, allulose is absorbed but not metabolized by the body, but still needs to be identified as sugar on the label. I can confirm none of this, but can confirm that I’m about to consume 52g of this magical ingredient in one sitting.
Editor’s Note: The three Beyond Cereal Protein Bars that reached production are ranked first. The two Protein Crunch bars that didn’t follow.
The Quest Protein Crunch Bars are ranked in order of my preference below:
1) Cinnamon Quest Protein Crunch Bar: If this were a cereal, it would be Cinnamon Toast Crunch. Everything about this bar screams “Cinnamon Toast Crunch.” That’s no exaggeration. Actually, this product already exists without the protein: Cinnamon Toast Crunch Cereal Bars. These are those. They chew crispy and dense like those bars, and they taste exactly like those bars. Just a blast of cinnamon and graham flavor. Tempted to dunk in milk. The sweetness is up there but kept in check by the masterful use of cinnamon spice. They forgot to put drizzle on this bar for some reason, but it tastes so good that I don’t care. You’ll be eating it with your eyes closed in satisfaction anyway. Much like Cinnamon Toast Crunch is the best cereal, Cinnamon is the best Quest Protein Crunch Bar.
Nutrition: 110 cals, 12g protein, 17g carbs, 4.5g fat, 7g fiber, 8g sugar.
2) Chocolate Quest Protein Crunch Bar: If this were a cereal, it would be the extinct Oreo-O’s. That’s extremely high praise, if you were never #blessed enough to try Oreo-O’s. The flavor is more in the cookies n’ creme arena than it is just chocolate, and the white drizzle will remind you of that. You know how an Oreo wafer has that bitter element to it? So does the Chocolate Quest Protein Crunch Bar, and this isn’t a knock against it. Any time you can draw a comparison to anything Oreo, you’re doing a damn good job. You might prefer a little more sweetness from this bar, but not me. This is the closest thing I’ve had to Oreo-O’s since 2007.
Nutrition: 110 cals, 12g protein, 17g carbs, 4.5g fat, 7g fiber, 9g sugar.
3) Waffle Quest Protein Crunch Bar: If this were a cereal, it would be Waffle Crisp by default. These bars taste like Eggo waffles that were buttered with a pretty heavy hand and then finished off with maple syrup. The crispy not-rice has a good chew that emulates biting into a toasted waffle. I got butter first (a lot of it) before it transitioned to maple syrup. Maybe like… the sugar-free kind, though, because there’s something artificial about the Waffle Quest Protein Crunch Bar that I don’t love. Quest struck a good balance between the butter and syrup flavors, but the combination is a little aggressive for me. When I was done with the Waffle Quest Protein Crunch, a weird aftertaste settled in and stuck around for a bit. That’s the primary reason this one slipped down the charts for me. Some people are going to love this one, but it’s a flavor I would prefer to enjoy only on occasion and not on the reg.
Nutrition: 110 cals, 12g protein, 17g carbs, 4.5g fat, 6g fiber, 8g sugar.
Strawberry Quest Protein Crunch Bar: If this were a cereal, it would be Cap’n Crunch Berries. Emphasis on berries. It’s really a shame that this flavor didn’t make the final cut. Trust me, I was surprised AF that I liked strawberries over waffles. But just hear me out first. Nothing about the Strawberry bar tasted artificial, and it was incredibly refreshing. It tasted like dried strawberries which makes sense because dried strawberries are high on the ingredient list, right behind butter. Yes, butter. Behind the strawberry, the not-cereal bar had a similar flavor to many popular corn/oat cereals but the sweetness felt a lot more natural. I know it was fruit and “#YOLO waffles” or whatever, but here’s hoping the Strawberry Quest Protein Crunch Bar returns. I almost ranked this one second, which is a big deal for someone whose favorite fruit is a cupcake.
Nutrition: 100 cals, 12g protein, 19g carbs, 4g fat, 6g fiber, 11g sugar.
Peanut Butter Chocolate Quest Protein Crunch Bar: If this were a cereal, it would not be Reese’s Puffs, unfortunately. It would be more like Peanut Butter & Chocolate Puffins. It’s appropriate that the peanut butter preceded chocolate in the title because the lead flavor was indeed very peanutty. The flavors were pretty muted though. The Peanut Butter Chocolate Quest Protein Crunch Bar was the least sweet of the bunch, and the chocolate played a very minor supporting role. The flavor of peanuts was authentic for what it’s worth. I’m not really sad to see this one go, but a few minor tweaks could have made it more exciting. It also packed more calories than every other bar when first launched. While this may seem like nothing to you, I am extremely close to my overall life limit on calories and I will exhaust soon because of it.
Nutrition: 110 Cals, 12g protein, 18g carbs, 5g fat, 6 fiber, 10g sugar.
In summary, I have no idea what cereal is anymore. But I do know that I was very impressed with the Quest Protein Crunch Bars. For an approximately 100 calorie bar, you get a solid amount of protein on a bar that’s larger and more filling than most granola bars competing in this calorie range. The texture is unlike any other protein bar currently out there, and is very similar to Rice Krispie treats. While the jury’s still out on what allulose is, the Quest Protein Crunch Bars are a sweet treat that provide more energy via more carbohydrates than standard protein bars. If you’re concerned that the carbs outweigh the protein by about 3:2, , you may want to look elsewhere. But for me, the Quest Protein Crunch Bars make a suitable stash for the gym bag or the office snack drawer when you need a boost with a low-calorie price tag.
My Understanding of Cereal Before Rating: 9 out of 10
My Understanding of Cereal Now Rating: 2 out of 10
Overall Rating: 7.5 out of 10
Related Protein Reading:
- REVIEW: Every Quest Bar Ever Created
- REVIEW: Oh Yeah! ONE Bars (All of Them)
- REVIEW: Chef Robert Irvine Fit Elite Bars
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