Elevation (by Millville) Cookie Dough Protein Nutrition Bars (Aldi)

A box of Elevation (by Millville) Cookie Dough Protein Nutrition Bars
An underwhelming bar at a somewhat attractive price.

Well, another week, and the need for another work snack. I won't bore you with details, but yes I will: I don't get a paid break at work anymore, and rather than spend another half hour there on an unpaid lunch, I'd rather get the hell out as early as possible. It's nice for family time, but not so great for my diet, where I don't get to eat my first full meal until after 1 p.m. However, I do try to remember to bring some type of snack to eat “illegally”--it just has to be portable and something I can easily hide. And that's where breakfast and snack bars frequently fit in.

I've liked most of Elevation's other offerings (their chocolate shake is pretty stellar, as is their chocolate mint bar), so I figured I'd keep going down the Elevation rabbit hole by grabbing a pack of Cookie Dough Protein Energy Bars. Part of it was because I was interested in how a cookie dough bar would taste (it had been years since I had one), and because at $4.59, it was one of the most affordable choices on the Elevation endcap.

My first reaction: these bars are smaller than they look—the packaging looks like a full size bar, but when you pull this thing out, it only takes up half the wrapper. Maybe it's a little wider than other bars and it all evens out, but it's a weird optical illusion that kind of made me feel like I was getting gypped the first time (although it could also explain why these are a little cheaper than others).

The texture here is grainier than the other bars I've tried in their line. Maybe it’s because they’re going for the same feel as soft cookie dough, but I can’t stand it—it comes off a little…sandy, and even when there’s no grain, it’s just too soft. Poking through to add some kind of variance to the surface are the chocolate chips, which are in pretty good abundance and do a good job of adding some “crunch” completely lacking from the otherwise sponge-soft texture.

Honestly, the texture is what does these in for me: the more of them I eat, the less and less I like them. I'm not usually one of those people that get creeped out by most textures, but for some reason the softness of this one just really gets to me, and makes these bars very unappetizing. Maybe I'll try refrigerating them first, just so that I get a harder center, but even then I imagine the graininess would still be intact, and probably even more noticeable. Eh...these aren't my favorite bars, and not by a long shot.

The flavor is okay, but also nothing at all like actual cookie dough…it’s just kind of a miscellaneous taste that feels like they threw a bunch of random things together, and then based the name of the bar around their mysterious creation. In other words, I suppose it’s kind of close to cookie dough, but not something I’d probably be able to peg with no advanced flavor notice, mainly because it doesn't really taste a thing like cookie dough. The chocolate coating is good, but if you’ve ever had another bar in the Elevation line, it should seem familiar to you, as I'm pretty sure they just use the same chocolate coating across the board for all of their products.

And that really makes it just feel like déjà vu: a lot of their bars are starting to taste very similar to one another, now that I’ve tried a few, because of that same chocolate coating that they use for every single one. Even the middles don’t have much variance: there’s the brownish “putty” like we get here with this one, or the chewy “crisped rice” style like we get with the chocolate mint bar, and those are about the only two options (they do have a harder “fruit and grain” bar available at the checkout counter that's completely different, but I'm not sure if that's even available in multi-packs).

Which brings me to another issue I have with the line—and it might just be me since I’m not really well-versed in the world of health bars—but why are there so goddamned many choices? For a place that prides itself on not giving consumers many options, the fact there are no fewer than 15 different health bars just seems kind of odd to me. And what the hell are the differences between them all? I’m sure there are subtle nuances, but most of them have the same basic functions: added protein, and meal replacement for dieters. So why do we need all these choices and varying price ranges for what appear to be the same basic product? I get everyone seems to be more health-conscious these days, but it just seems kind of pointless to me that Elevation products fill an entire endcap, while there are plenty of other product lines that deserve an expansion instead. 

This is one of the more affordable bar options in the Elevation line, but even taking that factoid into consideration, it's not one I'd ever really be interested in revisiting.

Overall: 4/10. The $4.59 retail price (for six bars) is pretty tempting, but it's done in by a terribly soft interior that tastes nothing like cookie dough as it also throws in an off-putting amount of graininess. The little chocolate chip pieces and exterior chocolate coating do their best to overcome the texture issues, but it proves to be too much: paired up with the uninspiring and fakey “cookie dough” taste, this is an underwhelming bar at a somewhat attractive price.