As much as it pains me to say, I was actually around when the first protein bar — METRX — came on the scene. If you’re old enough to recall (or if your mom used it as baby food), you’ll remember that it was positively AWFUL — mouthful after mouthful of vanilla quicksand. I can still remember force-feeding myself to slog down a bar, partly because I had spent $3.50 on it and partly because I’ll be damned if i was gonna let that exquisite combination of horrible texture and dreadful taste prevent me from transforming my 20-year old body into Lee Labrada, the METRX spokesman at the time.
Fast forward five years to 1995 and I’m living in New York City and I discover Labrada has his own line of protein bars called Lean Body. It had been a while since my last protein bar so I was a bit hesitant. I scanned over the flavors and picked up one called Peanut Butter and Jelly. I bit into it and couldn’t believe my tastebuds. UNREAL! It actually tasted amazing. I took the label with me on the subway ride back to Brooklyn, analyzing the ingredient list and trying to figure out how they snuck 30 grams of protein past my esophagus without inducing the gag reflex even once. I was stumped.
Labrada eventually stopped making that particular flavor, saddening me and perhaps the other six people who loved the taste of Goober Grape and weren’t afraid to admit it.
Which brings me back to the present. I’m in my local GNC and I see the elegant reflective wrapping of several Labrada Lean Body Caramel Peanut flavored bars sitting in a box, with — you guessed it — orange discount labels. At just $1.50/bar, I banked on Labrada’s goodwill with me and bought the remaining NINE bars in the box.
Upon first bite, I was impressed, as the milk chocolate coating quickly gave way to a soft underbelly of gooey caramel. But as I chewed more and involved the complete range of tastebuds in my mouth, I detected a sodium overload. Sure, it went down without a fight, but a bit of a sour-salty aftertaste lagged behind. The only remedy was to take another bite of the sweet caramel and so on and so forth as my palette carousel continued to circle around the inescapable truth that this wasn’t the Lean Body Bar I had longed for and missed for so long. No, this had to be an anomaly. Or an impostor. Or so I thought. So I waited a few days and ate another one only to feel the same pangs of disappointment set in after the first bite.
Labrada, how COULD you?
Rating: * (One Star) out of ***** (Five)
Editor’s Note: It’s been nearly two years since I wrote this review and I still have a few bars if anyone is interested. I’d send them to Haiti, but chances are they’d be more suited to construct buildings than to be eaten. Hey, that gives me an idea…