Fig bar smackdown: A taste-test battle of 4 brands

Chicago TribuneFebruary 16, 2013 

FOOD FIGBARS TB

Newman's Own Fig Newman's took tops in a taste test of four brands of fig bars among the Chicago Tribune food staff.

BILL HOGAN — MCT

Figs are having a moment.

Pickled figs, fig-based vinaigrettes, smoked figs and fig cheeses are all populating gourmet grocery shelves and upscale restaurant menus.

It’s no wonder, given all they have going for them: They’re rich in calcium, iron, fiber, phosphorus and potassium. They taste fantastic.

And they’re always being mentioned in the Bible. (“And they sewed fig leaves together, and made themselves aprons. And they heard the voice of the Lord God walking in the garden in the cool of the day,” Genesis 3:7.)

All good reasons to get your kids hooked on them. And, really, it couldn’t be easier.

Since the invention of Fig Newtons more than a century ago, fig-filled cookies have expanded to please any number of palates – fat-free, whole-grain, organic.

We challenged four major brands (Nabisco, 365 Organic, Newman’s Own and Nice!) to a fig bar smackdown, comparing nutrition and texture and taste. Our panel consisted of three kids (ages 4-7) and two grown-ups (a mom and a full-time nanny, ages undisclosed). Here’s what we found.

Nutritionally speaking, a fig bar is a fig bar is a fig bar. All four brands are 110 calories for a two-cookie serving.

Nice! packs 15 grams of sugar per serving, while the other three brands check in at 12 grams. Nabisco, 365 Organic and Newman’s Own contain 1 gram of fiber, while Nice! lists zero. (Fiberless figs. Who knew?) Nice! contains the least sodium, at 105 milligrams, compared with 125 milligrams for 365 Organic, 130 milligrams for Nabisco and 135 for Newman’s Own.

Tastewise, it was no contest.

The Results

Ranked on a scale of 1 to 5, 5 being the best. (All packages were 12 ounces.)

First place: Newman’s Own Fig Newmans

(4.5 points, $3.39)

From the mouths of babes: “The perfect amount of sweetness and dryness and moistness.” “The most flavor.”

The grown-up take: “Tastes the most like a cookie.”

Second place: Nabisco Fig Newtons

(2.5 points, $4.99)

From the mouths of babes: “A little mushy.” “Sweet enough, but sort of dry.”

Grown-ups: “A nice ratio of cookie sandwich to fig filling.”

Third place: 365 Organic Fig Bars (classic)

(2 points, $4.39)

From the mouths of babes: “Way too dry. Way.” “It hardly even has any taste. Not even fig taste.”

Grown-ups: “I actually like this. The texture makes you feel like it’s healthier.” “Sort of lemony.”

Fourth place: Nice! Low-Fat Fig Bars

(1 point, $2.49)

From the mouths of babes: “It’s like just eating bread.” “Is zero a choice?”

Grown-ups: “Too cakey and dry.” “Too much cookie and not enough fig.”

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