Pizza-flavor energy gel? Yes, you read that correctly. And sweet potato, too.
Working with outdoors athletes such as ultra runner Scott Jurek and its in-house chefs, Clif Bar developed a new kind of energy food advertised as the “next generation of sports nutrition.”
Lab-developed supplements are not included. Instead, you get tomato puree, olive oil, beets, yeast flakes, and potatoes.
In a category ruled by sweet tastes, the savory flavors — a pizza offering, sweet potato, and a banana-beet-with-ginger concoction — are a vast departure and unique enough that we awarded the concept one of our “Best In Show” picks at the Outdoor Retailer Winter Market earlier this year.
They come in pouches used by baby-food companies. Screw off the cap and squeeze, then wait for the all-organic goo to hit your tongue.
Clif made the packs for longer distance days, not as much for training or sprint events. These do not replace traditional carb and sugar rich energy gels.
Instead, the packs provide a “real food” taste and a larger quantity per serving. (The nutritional stats vary between all the flavors.) Ultra events, backpacking trips, day-long gravel bike rides, and mountaineering could be perfect venues and activities for the filling, eat-anywhere food.
I have not yet relied on the line in the wilderness for any extended period. But last week I tested out the whole Organic Energy Food line. Here’s some initial feedback on the flavor and palatability of the savory food packs.
The Pizza Margherita flavor is a puree with ingredients like quinoa, garlic powder, oregano, and sunflower seed butter.
It offers 160 calories in a four-ounce pouch. The Pizza goo ($18/box of six) tastes like a strong, slightly spiced tomato paste. Its texture is more like marinara sauce than yogurt, and it has a distinct nutty finish.
The Banana Beet With Ginger ($13.75/box of six) might sound disgusting. But its flavor is overwhelmingly banana, and it has a feel in the mouth much like a smoothie. A hint of beet in the background adds an earthy zing.
Banana Mango With Coconut ($13.75/box of six) was good, and it tastes just as the name portends — sweet and tropical but not overpowering. Yummy.
The Sweet Potato With Sea Salt product ($18/box of six) was not as palatable. I grabbed a glass of water immediately after eating the orange goo. It was at first very salty, then the flavor shifted hard to an overwhelming tangy yam taste.
When I tested sweet potato out at an event earlier this year before the official product release the flavor was not so strong — makes me wonder if the batch was different or with modified ingredients after launch.
Clif has created a possibly polarizing new product type with the line. I love that the company is pushing boundaries (and taste buds) in its quest toward a perfect eat-outdoors food.
Try them if you crave salt, veggies, and “real food” in a convenient, pre-made package while on the trail.