Review: Clif’s Organic Energy Food pastes

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Have you ever wondered what a cold pizza would taste like after a whirl in the blender?

Better than idly speculating on the idea, the good people at Clif have taken action to create a line of four Energy Food pastes. Banana Beet with Ginger and Banana Mango with Coconut represent the sweet end of the spectrum, while Sweet Potato with Salt, and Pizza Margherita are in the savoury corner. And to answer the question above, the Pizza Margherita tastes largely as one would expect- identifiably pizza, but cold with a consistency somewhere between a liquid and a gel, with occasional chunks tossed in for textural interest.

Pizza. In a bag.
Pizza. In a bag.

Essentially (and Clif won’t necessarily be thrilled with our saying so) baby food for athletes, the Organic Energy Food line is an interesting alternative to bars or gels. The four varieties of thick, textured liquids go down easily and can be readily digested, picking up on a trend previously among over-tired and under-stocked recent new parents.  The 90g sweet packets contain roughly 100 calories of organically-derived energy and take up roughly the same volume as a Clif bar while the 120g savoury pair are somewhat larger and pricier but contain closer to 200 calories.

The on-packet recommendation that an athlete consume 1-2 packets per hour led to the realization that, for a given amount of pocket space, each packet contains roughly half the fuel of a solid bar- making packing (and paying) for a 4-6 hour outing a greater commitment than bars, blocks, or gels.

Bananas! Beets! Ginger!

As a sponsor of Todd & Ned’s Durango Dirt Fondo, Clif had plenty of packets on hand at the event’s rest stops – making the hot, technical 50-mile day an ideal test. While taste is by nature subjective, the Banana Mango with Coconut is simply wonderful (and was the first to run dry at aid stations). Light and fruity, with each ingredient readily identifiable and chunks of coconut to keep the teeth (and later the tongue) occupied. Banana Beet with Ginger is more a more interesting, layered flavour – but after a couple of hours eating nothing but, that variety’s ginger made itself known with a slightly uncomfortable warmth in the tummy.

While the Pizza Margherita flavour is interesting – perhaps because it comes with preconceptions about what a pizza should taste like – it is the least successful of the new line. To Clif’s credit, it does taste very much like cold, liquified pizza – but this identifiable taste seems to serve mostly as a reminder that flavour is only one aspect of how food is appreciated – texture and temperature play large roles as well.

Will it play in Pickering?
Will it play in Pickering?

The form of Clif’s Organic Energy Food creates another challenge.  As thick pastes, this reviewer found that the packets never really satisfied that fourth-quarter long ride hunger. While caloric needs may have been met, many of us want more during all but the most intense efforts. It’s hard not to think that, rather than a bar (or sandwich) replacement, Clif’s packets might best be considered a supplement to solid food. The right flavor (we’re looking at you, Banana Mango) sounds fantastic at those moments when blood sugar is low, the stomach is rebelling, and nothing else is remotely appealing.

Clif’s new line doesn’t feel like a direct replacement for anything already on the market, but there have certainly been situations since Durango when it felt like nothing else would taste as good.

Clif’s Organic Energy Food is just now becoming available in the USA.  UK availability has not been announced as of yet…

Review Info

Brand: Clif
Product: Organic Energy Food
From: Clif Bar & Company
Price: $2.30-3.00; £N/A
Tested: by Marc B for 1 Month

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