I’ll come clean right from the start, I absolutely love these bars—there are a few areas I’ll be moderately critical of, but on the whole they’re almost unbeatable. I sampled four flavours and whilst they were all ridiculously enjoyable to eat, I narrowed down my favourite flavours pretty quickly.
Available in seven unique and lovable tastes, each bar has roughly the same nutritional composition with a whopping 20g of protein per 65g bar. The centre of which is a thick, protein-rich moussey/nougat type spine, with protein crispies sandwiched between a layer of gooey caramel and a chocolate outer coating.
My experience of eating a PHD Smart Bar was one of absolute delight, each time. They’re pretty big and reassuringly filling—with each one leaving its signature aftertaste for quite a while after you finish eating it. Whilst the flavours are probably what will appeal most to you when making a choice, I found the texture of these bars the most enjoyable aspect of munching through one. It’s a big bar, so you’ll have to open your mouth quite wide, then your teeth crack the generous chocolate coating before you realise it’s actually really chewy. The caramel and mouse hold the bar together well—but amongst this soft-gooey loveliness are the crunchy crispies, which add another dimension to the eating experience. Add to this the different flavours which hit you whilst you’re devouring these bars—I really don’t think you could ask for much more.
White Chocolate Blondie:
Who doesn’t love a blondie? And this bar is no disappointment. My first impression was that it’s about as white chocolatey as you can get, without just eating white chocolate. The bar is coated in a 31% white chocolate mix, and the moussey centre is also a creamy white colour, with the dark chocolate crispies showing through the white chocolate and giving the impression that this blondie’s roots are showing.
As someone who wouldn’t normally choose white chocolate over the other variants, I enjoyed the White Choc Blondie bar much more than I expected and would snatch somebodies hand off if they offered me one!
Dark Chocolate Raspberry:
Now this is a really clever combination, two flavours which complement each other perfectly. You don’t often come across protein bars covered in dark chocolate, with most manufacturers preferring a sweeter, milk chocolate option (which is surprising because if you’re on any kind of diet, dark chocolate is the least unhealthy option)—so from the very first bite this is a really intriguing experience. The mousse is a dark chocolate and raspberry combination, which is a bit like an exotic variant of chocolate orange. Aside from the treat-like taste of this bar, the most unexpected element is the bright pink layer or caramel, which delivers an intense hit of raspberry every now and again.
The Dark Chocolate Raspberry bar follows the same formula as all the others in the range, but oh my God, it’s a seriously enjoyable eating experience—one which you almost expect from the ingredients but doesn’t fail to deliver in any way.
Salted Fudge Brownie:
This is probably my least favourite in the range, but still very enjoyable. Because of the rest of the flavours, I’m setting my bar really high in this review. Thankfully, it tastes exactly as you’d expect it to, the homely taste of fudge reigning supreme throughout the whole experience—with a short stab of salt presenting itself every now and again.
Although the Salted Fudge Brownie bar has the same physical composition as all the others, with the layers and crispy bits—it came across as very chewy. I’d also say that by the time I’d finished eating, it left an ever-so-slightly sickly feeling. However, all things considered—it’s way better than a lot of other protein bars out there and the flavours works really well.
I’ve saved the best to last and from the outset will admit I found this bar to be as good if not better than the majority of full-fat, high-sugar ‘proper’ chocolate bars on the market. Whatever PHD did when they combined their selection of ingredients is nothing short of magic. If you imagine a really, really great tasting protein bar—this is so much better than that.
I ate my Chocolate Brownie bar with a strong, black coffee—which extenuated the taste of the dark chocolate and made the experience even more enjoyable. First of all, it’s an incredibly chocolatey experience—without being too sweet or sickly, something which PHD should be highly commended for. As with all the bars in this range, the combination of textures is inspiring. The firm, chewy mess mixes beautifully with the sharp crispies—whilst maintaining an utterly divine taste. If you imagine a dark chocolate Mars Bar with crispies under the chocolate coating—it would be a similar eating experience.
I am an incurable chocoholic and have eaten so many ‘chocolate flavour’ protein bars—but never one which comes even close to this one. I often feel that protein bars are quite expensive for what they are, with PHD’s Smart Bars and Grenade’s Carb Killa both retailing for £2.50 per bar—which is damn pricey when you consider the less-healthy alternative is likely to be around a third of that price. However, I’m happy to pay £2.50 for the Chocolate Brownie Smart Bar, it’s that good!