I was really pleased when I got an email from Frank. No, not you Frank but instead those nice people at The Frank Food Company asking if I'd like to review some of their cereal bars. You know, people are taking a bit of a risk when they ask me to review something and publish an article because they never really know what I'm going to say about them on my blog. Nevertheless, an agreement was made and in hardly any time at all, a small package from The Frank Food Company arrived and so we can pick up on their review…..
The Frank Food Company
The background was simple and one that I can identify with. How often do you buy something that's marketed as being "healthy" only to find it is junk, garbage, sticky goo, full of dodgy ingredients and tastes horrible? If you're like me you've probably fallen into that trap and so too did Neil Robinson (the former Everton football player) who actually decided to do something about it. After spending time experimenting and developing his recipes, he succeeded in producing a cereal bar which looked like a good product to market. The business started in 2012 - so still relatively new on the scene - and they supply their products via mail order (see their website) and through a growing number of other health food outlets.
They have produced some cereal bars badged as "honest snacking" which is 100% natural. This means free from dairy products (they're vegan friendly), also free from gluten and nuts. Their website refers to the bars as being low in calories compared to other comparable bars. Fine quality ingredients are used, they say, which includes some which are exclusive to them in the UK. With each bar containing almost 4g of protein, that's a useful source. The FRANK bars also contain ENERGYSMART®, which is a patented, all-natural combination of carbohydrates from apple, grape and pears. They have also developed some natural dextrins from grain which together provide valuable longer-lasting energy.
The bars are 35g each and come in five flavours: strawberry & chocolate, orange & chocolate, double chocolate, blueberry & chocolate and oat & chocolate. If you buy from their website, they cost £17 for a box of 20. Before you ask, that works out at £0.85p each. You can either buy a box which is a mixture of the different flavours, or a box where they're all the same.
Rather than simply review these myself, I thought I'd get some views from my family last weekend. It was one of those rare English Sunday mornings when it was warm enough to sit outside and have breakfast which included the FRANK bars.
My eldest daughter took the role of being the most picky taste tester, consistent with being a teenager programmed to be sceptical about these things. She scrutinised the label of her first choice and queried "how can a double chocolate bar be healthy Dad?". So even before she unwrapped the bar she was a bit dubious! This was quickly followed by "can I unwrap it now Dad, I wanna start scoffing this!". And so she did. She didn't think it looked particularly nice, probably because it didn't look like a chocolate bar but there was a real "thumbs up" for the texture - this was nice and smooth. She found a little piece of a fruit pip inside which took her by surprise (code for exclamations) but we wondered whether we should simply accept this will happen with products made using natural ingredients?
Rachel and myself shared the other bars and to be honest we had some mixed views about the taste. We were impressed that there was a good dose of cocoa included as this is a really enjoyable and healthy ingredient. The intensity of the taste was quite strong, perhaps too strong for some. Rachel, also being a little mischievous picked up on the pea protein…. "you never want to be without your pea protein, do you?". I didn't have a answer to that.
Overall we liked the orange and chocolate flavour best of all. It had a fairly pleasant taste and again we liked the texture. While the taste of the bars weren't setting our taste buds on fire, we need to keep a few things in mind.
Firstly, these are not meant to be alternative Mars Bars and the like. Instead these will release their energy over a period of time, which is exactly what we need: having a rush of sugar isn't good for anyone, let alone sporty, active people who need to consider their diet with some care..
At 35g they are ideal as a small, easily carried snack bar which will fit into almost any pocket. They are quite firm and seem to stay together pretty well; this is helpful as the last thing you want is a handful of crumbs when you open the wrapper half way up a long climb.
These are healthy, made using natural ingredients. This means they won't taste like Mars Bars or other high sugar, high fat, high garbage foods. I reckon that as taste buds up and down the country gradually start to become accustomed to more wholesome food, this kind of snack will taste fine.
Picky teenagers may take some convincing, especially if our view is typical. But then, once more, this is not pretending to be something to be found amongst the regular chocolate and sweet sections in our shops.
These are definitely worth a try and you might find they're really nice and unlike other ordinary snack bars. At 85p that's not a lot to lose but £17 on a box of bars is clearly more of an store cupboard investment. You can also rest easy in knowing the ingredients are okay with nothing dodgy padding it out.
Why not go over to The Frank Food Company and take a look around - http://www.thefrankfoodcompany.com