It’s definitely back-to-school time, you can just feel it in the air. Our neighbourhood is a favourite for university students, so I’ve seen plenty of U-Hauls and El Cheapo moving vans around lately. Even now that I’m out of school, September just has this… feel to it. Part exciting new beginnings, part sadness that summer’s over, and part nervousness for what’s to come.
I was in the local Whole Foods recently, and I came across a product that screamed “Put me in a lunch box!” Barbara’s Fig Bars are basically a “healthy” knockoff of the standard, all-American Fig Newton.
They pull all the typical tricks of a “healthy” processed food: dull beige-brown packaging, pictures of whole fruit and hearts, and health claims written on the front. What made me pick them up (despite rolling my eyes at their claim of being “all natural”) was the multigrain dough. I had always thought that the Fig Newton cookie was kind of lacking in that it had a bland, pasty dough. Maybe a little extra chew would be beneficial!
Opening the package, I smelled that familiar fig smell – so far these are frighteningly similar to the traditional Fig Newtons. A quick Google shows that they are slightly “better” than the traditional cookies health-wise, in that they use juice instead of HFCS, whole oat flour, etc. They’re lower in fat and sodium, but higher in fibre than the originals. Calorie-wise, they’re equivalent (55 per bar).
But most importantly: Taste! The dough part does benefit from the extra chew of whole oats and barley, it adds flavour to the previously ignored half of the cookie. The fig portion has the familiar jammy texture with the crunch of seeds. However, I did notice the other fruit flavours coming through in the filling – it wasn’t pure fig. Particularly, I could taste the pineapple juice and date paste (but really, that’s only a drawback if you’re expecting pure fig flavour). The main drawback was that the filling tasted overcooked – even slightly burnt. But definitely still sweet.
Would I buy them again? Yeah, but now that I know it won’t taste just like figs, I’d probably opt for another variety like the raspberry fig combo. They were good, but not a big enough hit to become part of the regular grocery list – maybe a twice-a-year item.