The consumer whore report on T@rget store brand protein bars

I have never been particularly good at planning ahead, so I often find myself in the middle of some room in my house in a panic because OH MY GOD, THERE’S NO MORE TOILET PAPER, or EGADS! WHAT CAN I FEED THE CAT? So I should not have been at all surprised to reach into the little basket that houses my Zone fudge graham protein bars last Sunday and discover only one remaining bar. I have been eating Zone fudge graham bars for breakfast for years, ever since the EAS company stopped marketing my previous bar of choice in this part of the country. I do not like any other flavor of Zone bar. I do not want to TRY any other flavor of Zone bar. (I have also never been particularly good about expanding my horizons once I find something that works for me, although I do enjoy an assortment of Luna and MoJo bars as SNACKS–NOT as breakfast).

So imagine my dismay last Sunday afternoon at T@rget when I found myself staring at dozens of boxes of mint chocolate and peanut butter chocolate and raspberry fudge Zone bars, and one vast empty shelf where the fudge graham Zone bars used to be. They were out! Completely! Even the little basket of single fudge graham bars was empty. I considered abandoning my cart and fleeing to a different T@rget, but my basket was full and my daughter was sleepy, and the thought of starting the entire shopping process again was just too daunting. So with no other choice in view, I reconsidered my horizons.

Breakfast has always been a tough meal for me. I frequently wake up starving, but I can’t just grab some random breakfast food and go. I wake up with wonky sugar levels, so I have to be up moving around for a while before I can eat anything, and then it has to be something tame and not too sweet. The Zone fudge graham bar has some sort of mockolate coating, but it isn’t overwhelmingly sugary, and it’s full of carbs and protein. It works for me. It’s good with my second cup of coffee. I am not interested in auditioning new bars.

But last weekend I had no choice. I stood forlornly in the protein bar aisle and stared at my options. And then the words “fudge graham” caught my eye. Apparently, the T@rget grocery label, Market Pantry, is experimenting with protein bars, because there on the shelf next to the empty Zone fudge graham bin was a row of Market Pantry fudge graham bars in little red and white Targety boxes. The picture of the bar on the box looked much like the picture of the bar on the Zone box, and with no other viable options at hand I decided to give them a try.

In the future I will always buy T@rget brand Zyrtec. I wll always buy T@rget brand trash bags. I will buy T@rget brand clothes for my kid and myself, and I will buy T@rget brand flushable wipes and maxi pads. But I will NEVER EVER AGAIN IN MY LIFETIME buy T@rget brand protein bars. There was no discernible similarity between the Market Pantry bars and the Zone bars except for shape, size and color. The flavor of the Market Pantry bar, if you could call it flavor, was bad enough–nut fudge graham-like in the least–but the texture! Oh God, the texture! After I forced myself to swallow the first (and only!) bite, I could not escape the texture. I felt like I needed to sandblast my mouth. I regretted in that moment that I did not know a dentist personally, because I wanted to get one of those little super-powered sprayers they use to clean teeth and remove all traces of the horrible bar from my mouth. I considered tackling one of the groundskeepers on campus and commandeering his water hose. You might be laughing, but I am so not kidding. It was bad.

I’m really not a brand snob, honest, but if a store is going to invest the time and money to make a generic version of a product, they should make sure their store product is comparable, and not just in appearance. Don’t claim that a protein bar is Tina Fey when it is really Sarah Palin. I’m just saying. Just because two things look alike does not mean they are the same, and if you are expecting them to be remotely equal you are going to be disappointed, and you are going to end up going to another T@rget anyway, like you should have done in the first place.

And if anyone wants an opened box of Market Pantry fudge graham bars…well, you know where to find me.


5 thoughts on “The consumer whore report on T@rget store brand protein bars

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