Granola was invented in the late 19th century in Danville, New York, but no one thought of the granola bar until the mid-20th century, when a former WWII fighter pilot named Stanley Mason decided to repackage all those oats. For Mason, who also invented the disposable diaper, the underwire bra, and microwave cookware, it was one of many good ideas. Today granola bars account for over $1,600,000,000 in annual sales and the snack bar market is set to expand by 6.7% percent this year alone. Granola bars are to granola as compact sedans are to the internal combustion engine, the logical, practical, and admirable product of a breakthroughs.
And there are many types of granola bars, which seem to come in all kinds of flavors and increasing number of shapes. But the classics remain the classic. And the classics to end all classic is peanut butter and chocolate chip. These are the granola bar’s granola bars and these are the bars that fight for market share using a bit of sugar, a lot of packaging, and seemingly profound force of will. The two best of the bunch? Annie’s Homegrown and Bakery on Main (even though Quaker is more common). But which is better. There’s only one way to find out.
In the Red Corner: Weighing in at 25g, with a total calorie count of 100 calories, with 30 from fat, and 7grams of sugar with a protein count of 2g and 1g of fiber, is Annie’s Homegrown Organic Chewy Granola Bar: Peanut Butter Chocolate Chip.
In the Blue Corner: Bakery On Main’s Peanut Butter & Chocolate Chip, with a 9 gram weight advantage, 30 more calories, 15 more from fat, a whopping 8 grams of sugar and 4 of fiber with a four gram protein advantage.
Fight Analysis: The fighters enter the ring. There’s no doubt that Annie’s Homegrown looks the champion, with a fetching wrapper of chocolatey brown and a logo of a bunny peeking from a seal that reads, “Rabbit of Approval.” Someone in the copy department must be very pleased for above the photograph of a chocolate kiss and a peanut is the line “Hey PB CC Me.” That’s some swagger right there.
For its part, Bakery on Main doesn’t seem intimidated. Like Tyson entering the ring sans retinue, music or robe, the bar comes in a plain white wrapper, not packaged for retail sale, in purple and white.
The two fighters strip off their wrappers and meet in the center of the ring.
Round I: Texture
Wider and flatter, Bakery on Main is more pliable than its opponent. Though both are indeed bendable, Bakery on Main’s bar is not simply chewy, but yielding. Annie’s is, on the other hand, compact, the Frazier to Bakery on Main’s Tyson. But since this is a battle for primacy in the chewy division, not simply the granola division, texture must go to Bakery on Main.
Round: BOM 10 – 9 AO
Round II: Flavor
In the first blush, Bakery on Main once again seems the front-runner here — what with its brown rice syrup, cane sugar, agave syrup and honey. Yet the semi-whole chunks of peanut pack a punch. However, Annie’s comes back furiously with not just small chocolate chips but small peanut butter chips which are scattered like eczema on the face of the bar. What’s more with the addition of rice crisps — that is puffed brown rice with cane sugar — there’s a lovely starchiness in the Annie’s bar and a suffuse peanut butteriness. It’s the winner, by a narrow margin.
Round: BOM 9 – 10 AO
Round III: Value
As per the weirdo calculations of Amazon bulk purchasing, each Bakery on Main bar comes to about 85 cents, as compared to $1.18 for an Annie’s bar. (That said, you need to buy 6 boxes of of five Bakery on Main bars versus only one box of six of Annie’s.) Seeing as Bakery on Main provides more fiber and more protein per bar, with nominally less sugar, there can be only one reasonable winner. Annie’s may have Bakery on Main beat in the packaging, but it’s the loser on value.
Round: BOM 10 – 9 AO.
And the winner is…
By majority decision, Bakery on Main’s chewy peanut butter and granola bars get the nod. It’s chewier and cheaper and, though it didn’t dominate with power shots of flavor, the educated jab of chunky peanuts did the trick. It’s not always fair, this game, but sometimes the winner actually wins.