You’re probably looking at this blog post and thinking “sponsored” but, nope, sad to say it really isn’t. I purchased all of these bars with my own money.
I’m sure most of you follow or are familiar with hollyannaree on YouTube. I’ve been subscribed to her channel for years. She used to post lots of beauty hauls and reviews in the past but then there was sort of a lull and her video posting schedule was very sporadic. However, now she’s back and posting more regularly, mostly vlogs, and in two of her most recent videos she mentioned that she’s been enjoying Quest Protein Bars (here and here).
Now I’m sure most people subscribed to beauty channels couldn’t care less about what YouTubers are eating but I really like it. I love beauty and food in equal measure and being shown a YouTuber’s makeup collection in a video is as strangely satisfying as being shown what they’re eating. I guess it’s just the nosy voyeur in me. Plus, it gives me inspiration about what to eat.
In order to buy these Quest bars I made my first ever trip to a GNC store. I’m not into exercise or fitness by any means but I love all kinds of food and for some reason I’ve always associated GNC as a store for fitness fanatics, like body builders. First impression of GNC: it seems very sterile, like a step down from a pharmacy. Everything is arranged very neatly in huge vitamin-type bottles on shelves. All of the products seem to be pills, powders, capsules or bars. I think it’s oddly futuristic in a way, like all of those old sci-fi movies in which people no longer eat actual food but pop pills for sustenance.
The Quest Protein Bars are available in 18 different flavors but I decided to play it safe and went with all of the chocolate-based bars since I’m a true chocoholic. (The only exception being Mint Chocolate Chip because I hate mint in food. Mint is too closely associated with toothpaste and oral hygiene in my mind.) Also, I figured that chocolate is a flavor that’s hard to get wrong. It’s a fundamental flavor, like vanilla, and if a food company screws up something that basic then there’s no hope for the rest of their products.
The Quest Protein Bars at GNC are $2.99 individually but if you purchase 3 you get 1 free which works out to $2.24 per bar. It’s still pretty pricey for a snack bar — I could get a Snickers bar for a lot less — but a discount’s a discount, no matter how small. (FYI I recently spotted Quest Protein Bars at Trader Joe’s for $2.39 each.)
I purchased 5 Quest Protein Bars: Chocolate Brownie, Chocolate Chip Cookie Dough, Cookies & Cream, Double Chocolate Chunk, and S’mores. And GNC threw in a free sample pouch of an organic chocolate flavored protein powder. I’ve never tried a protein powder so I’m excited to give that a taste.
I’ve arranged the bars alphabetically but coincidentally that also happens to be how I’d rank them in order of preference from least favorite to most favorite.
Chocolate Brownie: This was the first bar I tried and definitely my least favorite. If this had been the only bar I got at GNC, I probably wouldn’t have bought any more. All of the Quest bars have a chewy texture but the Chocolate Brownie bar is, by far, the chewiest. Think Tootsie Roll chewy. It won’t stick to your teeth like a Tootsie Roll but it has a tough, chewy consistency. All of the bars, including this one, have a grainy texture, probably due to the ground nuts in the ingredients.
I also wasn’t very impressed by the chocolaty-ness of this bar and it had a slightly medicinal aftertaste. I checked the ingredients later on and I think that’s due to the Lo Han Guo (also known as monk fruit) which is a sweetener but also commonly used in Chinese herbal medicine. I remember when I was a kid my dad pouring boiling water over dried Lo Han Guo to make a tea and the Chocolate Brownie bar definitely has a hint of that flavor.
This bar also had a bit of a tanginess to it, not initially when I first popped it into my mouth but it came out as I chewed it. Don’t be scared, it’s not super obvious and I doubt most people would notice it. I’m just sensitive to things like that.
Chocolate Chip Cookie Dough: This bar was a lot better than the Chocolate Brownie bar. It’s not as chewy as that one but has that same grainy consistency. I loved the chunks of chocolate in it and how it isn’t overly sweet . There’s a nice balance of salty to sweet.
This bar starts off tasting very reminiscent of real chocolate chip cookie dough but, like the Chocolate Brownie bar, this one had a bit of that tangy taste that came out as I chewed it. It’s okay but not a favorite.
Cookies & Cream: Out of all of the Quest bars that I tried this one had the best texture. The white “cream” pieces are sweet and creamy and melt on my tongue like white chocolate chips. My favorite part about this bar, however, are the cookie pieces. They feel like actual chocolate wafer Oreo cookies: crisp and crunchy and not soft and chewy as I feared. Since all of the Quest bars are mainly chewy, the crunchy cookie pieces provide a much needed contrast.
I like the consistency Cookies & Cream bar but it doesn’t taste as authentic as I’d hoped. There’s just something artificial about it that instantly makes me think of this as a health bar masquerading as junk food and not a real, indulgent, guilty pleasure. It’s not bad though, especially if you want a “fake out” bar. There’s a tiny bit of a tangy flavor but it’s not as noticeable as the other two bars.
Double Chocolate Chunk: If you’re a chocoholic, this is the bar for you. It’s a bit chewier than the Chocolate Chip Cookie Dough bar and the second chewiest bar I tried overall but it’s the most authentic chocolate flavored bar out of all the ones I tasted.
Within the bar are huge chunks of semi-sweet chocolate, so you’ve got the chocolate chewy base in addition to the melty chocolaty goodness from the chocolate chunks. This is a very chocolaty bar which I really like.
At first glance it looks a lot like the Chocolate Brownie bar but this one is way better than that one. There’s no tangy taste with this one. Highly recommend.
S’mores: It’s hard to choose a favorite between the S’mores and Double Chocolate Chunk but this one has a slight edge. Visually, it looks a lot like the Chocolate Chip Cookie Dough bar and it even tastes a lot like it too but I prefer the S’mores bar because it doesn’t have that strange tangy flavor that’s in the Chocolate Chip Cookie Dough bar.
It has big pieces of chocolate within the bar, like the Chocolate Chip Cookie Dough bar, but the main difference is it has a hint of cinnamon to mimic the flavor of graham crackers.
The only thing missing in the Quest S’mores bar is a visible representation of marshmallows. I had expected to see little white chips like in the Cookies & Cream bar but I guess the sweetness of the bar is supposed to be the marshmallow element. No matter, it’s still pretty good and one of the sweeter tasting bars here.
All in all, the Quest Protein Bars are okay but not my favorite. If you have to buy them, though, go for the Double Chocolate Chunk or S’mores. The Cookies & Cream is okay too but I would recommend skipping the Chocolate Brownie and Chocolate Chip Cookie Dough flavors.
Considering the price of the Quest bars, I’d still go for a conventional candy bar if I wanted a sweet snack bar. However, if health and nutrition are concerns, I prefer and would recommend KIND bars to you instead. You get healthy protein from the whole nuts, fruits and grains; they’re available in a ton of flavors including some with chocolate; the soft dried fruits and crunch of the nuts and grains are more enjoyable to eat, in my opinion, than the chewy, taffy texture of the Quest bars; and I think the sweeteners in the KIND bars (e.g. honey, maple syrup, molasses) taste a lot better. The Quest bars use sucralose, Stevia, and Erythritol as sugar substitutes and they all leave an annoying, cloying sweetness that lingers on my tongue for hours. And I’m pretty sure the KIND bars are a dollar cheaper than the Quest bars too. I’m almost certain I saw the KIND bars at the grocery store priced 4 for $5 ($1.25 per bar).