Seth Stevenson and Eliza Truitt test sports foods and drinks.

The Spread of Goo
Oct. 27 1999 5:27 PM

Seth Stevenson and Eliza Truitt test sports foods and drinks.

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Dear Eliza,

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The last time I had 14 drinks in different colors was this one evening in Vegas ... but that's neither here nor there. Last night I reprised our run over the bridge, trying several new bars, a different brand of goo, and a couple of drinks.

My clearcut taste winner among the new bars was the Grabber Energy Bar in Wild Mountain Berry. Grabber must have some sort of French affiliation, as it's labeled "Barre D'Energie" and its ingredients list is bilingual. Leave it to the frogs to produce a tasty sports snack--Grabber had the taste and consistency of a thicker Fruit Roll-Up. And it's all-natural real fruit. Drawback: I don't quite understand why it's an energy bar, since it has barely any protein or fat. It does have 153 calories and 36 g of carbohydrates.

I also tried the Clif Bar in Apricot flavor, which basically tasted like dried apricots, but mushier. Not bad. 250 calories and 2g of fat. I liked it better than the crunchy Clif Bar we tried yesterday. After this I went to the HardBody Energy Bar. The Honey-Almond flavor of this was yummy--I'd actually eat it as a snack even if I weren't exercising. Not surprisingly, it was a 280 calories and a whopping 7g of fat. The Chocolate Truffle flavor HardBody had the same stats, but was less enjoyable. Chocolate Truffle is way too rich to be eating before or during exercise.

During my run I felt good and energetic, and midway through I paused to try a different goo packet from the PowerGel I tried last night. This one is called Gu, and it was much more satisfying. Texture was like a nice custard, and flavor ("banana blitz") was mild and delicious. I actually felt better after the Gu than before. This may have something to do with its potassium, which helps maintain fluid balance and stop cramps. The goo packet market is exploding right now. The latest entry is Clif SHOT, from the Clif Bar people. Clif SHOT has potassium as well, and cuts out the maltodextrin (sugar) that Gu loads up on, but it also boasts caffeine, which I'm not sure I want during exercise. The great thing about the goo packets is portability. They're a real boost out on a run, and they're easier to carry and keep better than a banana--you can stick a goo packet in your sock if you need to.

After the run I tried a couple of Gatorade drinks. Riptide Rush was delicious. A light grape flavor--not too light to seem watered down, just light enough to be truly refreshing. Gatorade has potassium, too. The Lemon Ice flavor I tried next was a disappointment. It had that very weak lemonade taste--highly disagreeable after a workout.

Well, Eliza, it's been great fun eating goo with you. I'm not sure we determined anything conclusive, but I guess we can heartily recommend the Powerbar Harvest flavor, at least on grounds of taste. And the goo packet concept is a winner in my book. But if this is the general future of food, I'll have the lobster. For quick reference, here's a chart of our reactions to the bars we were both able to sample:

Eliza Truitt is an associate editor at Slate. Seth Stevenson is a general editor at Newsweek. This week, they test sports foods and drinks for performance-enhancing abilities.

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