Monday, April 19, 2010

Clark Bar (Get Real - Milk & Dark)

Clark Bar - Get Real Milk Chocolate & All NaturalNecco is re-evaluating much of their classic candy line. It started with the Necco Wafers, which went to all natural ingredients last year. Then early this year Sweetheart fans were in for a shock when they went for more intense flavors and colors. The newest development is for a product that isn’t what Necco is known for, candy bars. The Clark Bar is now all natural and uses real chocolate.

The new Clark bar now has no preservatives, no artificial flavors or colors and most importantly, they use real chocolate to coat the crunchy molasses and peanut butter center. They’ve also created a dark chocolate version.


The Clark Bar was introduced around 1916-1917 by D.L. Clark of Pittsburgh who already had a thriving candy business, but needed something in bar form, especially for soldiers that had lots of portable energy. Like many candies created during wartime, this one stuck around after when the veterans sought out the familiar and satisfying flavors. The candy company made many different kinds of bars over the years but the only other to survive to the present is Zagnut (now made by Hershey’s).

imageIn 1955 the Clark family sold the business to Beatrice Foods. In 1983 Beatrice foods spun off their confectionery division to Leaf. However, Leaf ran afoul of the locals when they wanted to move the candy factory so they sold it the local Pittsburgh Food and Beverage Company in 1991 (along with Slo Pokes & Black Cows which were part of the Holloway company before being bought up by Beatrice along with a separate deal for Iron City Beer). I lived in Pittsburgh at the time, this was huge news. What happened after that was more than mismanagement or miscalculation, it was a fraud worthy of a feature film.  Finally Necco swooped in 1999 to rescue the closed factory and abandoned bar.

Throughout the years and many owners the Clark bar has changed. While I can’t say that new formula is a return to the original, it’s certainly on paper an improvement over the others from my lifetime.

For those of you not as obsessed about these sorts of things, skip on down to the present day Clark Bar photo area for the current review.

Ingredients in the 1950s (source) - made by D.L. Clark

Milk chocolate with lecithin added, corn syrup, sugar, peanut butter, molasses, wheat bran, sweetened condensed milk, brown sugar, vegetable fat, invert sugar, salt, butter, starch, certified food color and artificial flavor. 2.0 ounces (double bar for 10 cents)

Ingredients in the 1970s (source) - made by D.L. Clark a division of Beatrice Foods Co.

Sugar, corn syrup, peanut butter, molasses, hydrogenated vegetable oil, cocoa, non fat dry milk, wheat bran, invert sugar, salt, chocolate liquor, natural and artificial flavor, acetyl tartaric esters of mono and di-glycerides, soya lecithin, starch, artificial color. 1.5 ounces

Ingredients in the 1980s (source) - made by Switzer Clark, division of Leaf, Inc.

Sugar, corn syrup, ground roasted peanuts, partially hydrogenated vegetable oil (contains one or more of the following: palm kernel, coconut, soybean or cottonsead oil), cocoa, nonfat dry milk, whey, corn flour, molasses, invert sugar, salt, soya lecithin, artificial flavors and artificial colors. 1.75 ounces

Ingredients in the 1990s (source) - made by D.L. Clark and Clark Bar America

Sugar, corn syrup, ground roasted peanuts, partially hydrogenated vegetable oils (palm kernel, cottonseed and/or soybean), molasses, dutched cocoa (processed with alkali), nonfat milk, whey, corn flour, invert sugar, salt, artifical flavors, lecitin, TBHQ and citric acid (to maintain freshness). Kosher 1.75 ounces

Clark Bar - 2005

Ingredients in the 2000s (source) - Made by Necco

Sugar, corn syrup, ground roasted peanuts, partially hydrogenated vegetable oils (palm kernel, cottonseed and/or soybean), molasses, dutched cocoa (treated with alkali), nonfat milk, whey, corn flour, invert sugar, salt, artificial flavor, soy lecithin and preservatives (BHA, propyl gallate, citric acid). Kosher 1.75 ounces

The Clark Bar - All Natural (Milk Chocolate)

Ingredients in 2010 (from the wrapper) - Made by Necco

Sugar, corn syrup, ground roasted peanuts, milk chocolate (sugar, cocoa butter, chocolate liquor, whole milk powder, soy lecithin, vanilla extract), molasses, corn flour, invert sugar, coconut oil, salt, natural flavors. Kosher 2.1 ounces

It certainly sounds like Necco has reverted to a more wholesome recipe. But all the marketing in the world is no good if the product is inferior.

The first change is the wrapper, it’s bold and masculine; it reminds me more of Matchbox cars than candy. The second is the size. The previous version of the bar was 1.75 ounces, and now it’s 2.1 ounces. This not only puts it on par with other candy bars of its type (Butterfinger is also 2.1 ounces) but also edges out bars like Snickers.

The Clark Bar - All Natural (Milk Chocolate)

The bar his handsome with a beautifully rippled chocolate coating. The plank is substantial at 5.5 inches long and 1.5 inches wide. It smells sweet and peanutty, just what I like in my crunchy molasses peanut butter bars. The crunch is great, mostly flaky and easy to chew without sticking to my teeth or descending into taffy. It’s buttery without being greasy. It’s a little salty without being savory.

There were hints of smoke sometimes in the bars that I didn’t care for, I wasn’t sure what that was. But they were definitely fresh, no hint of rancid or off peanut oil flavors. The milk chocolate did an excellent job here of pulling it together with a creamy texture. The cocoa flavors weren’t intense, but felt kind of like “I’m having chocolate milk with my peanut butter sandwich.”

The Clark Dark Bar (Dark Chocolate)

The Clark Dark Bar has similar ingredients, in this case the dark chocolate is called Sweet Chocolate. It lists sugar, chocolate liquor, cocoa butter, butter oil, soy lecithin and vanilla extract. It’s really too bad about that butter oil in there, otherwise this would be an excellent vegan bar - maybe if enough folks write in they would change. The one thing I noticed though that was refreshing was that the weight of the dark bar is the same as the milk chocolate one. In most other milk/dark duets the dark is lighter (Snickers Dark, Special Dark, M&Ms Dark).

The Clark Dark Bar (Dark Chocolate)

The dark chocolate is sweet, and without the milk to mellow it out, it’s noticeable. The good thing is that there’s a light bitterness to it that hooks into the molasses and earthy roasted peanut flavors. I preferred the Dark version ultimately.

The Clark Bars - Milk & Dark

The texture of the bars varies as I’ve found with most candies of this type. Sometimes the center was flaky and nicely layered, but at least one (the milk one in the close up) was a little less layered and more hard-candy solid. The flavor profile remains the same. The molasses and peanut butter flavors go well together. It’s a deeply flavored bar with sweet and salt, smoke and toasted sugar all backed up by the rib-sticking satisfaction of peanuts.

Read more about the history of the Zagnut from the Bewildered Brit.


Related Candies

  1. Fairhaven Candy Crumblz!
  2. Mary Jane’s Bread Pudding
  3. Reese’s Crispy Crunchy Bar
  4. See’s Peanut Brittle Bar
  5. Clark Bar
  6. Chick-o-Stick
  7. Head-to-Head: Butterfinger vs. 5th Avenue

Name: Clark Bar
Brand: Necco
Place Purchased: Rite Aid (Echo Park)
Price: $.50 (on sale)
Size: 2.1 ounces
Calories per ounce: 129
Categories: All Natural, Necco, Chocolate, Kosher, Peanuts, 8-Tasty, United States, Rite Aid

Name: Clark Bar Dark
Brand: Necco
Place Purchased: Rite Aid (Echo Park)
Price: $.50 (on sale)
Size: 2.1 ounces
Calories per ounce: 124
Categories: All Natural, Necco, Chocolate, Kosher, Peanuts, 8-Tasty, United States, Rite Aid

POSTED BY Cybele AT 1:18 pm Tracker Pixel for Entry     All NaturalCandyReviewNeccoChocolateKosherPeanuts8-TastyUnited StatesRite Aid

  1. nice to see a return to real chocolate; who would’ve guessed that Necco would be leading that particular charge?

    Comment by ruffy on 4/19/10 at 2:02 pm #
  2. I’ve never had one of these, but I am now tempted to try one. I must say that was a very thorough review. I have no further questions about the Clark bar.

    Comment by Shanon on 4/19/10 at 3:38 pm #
  3. Wow, I’ve avoided Clark bars, but will have to try this new version. I can’t stand “mocklate” and the old bars had such a waxy coating.

    Comment by RR on 4/19/10 at 3:39 pm #
  4. Do we live in great times, or what? A candy company reversing course, jettisoning overly processed, fake ingredients, and returning to natural ones!  Hurrah for NECCO! First the NECCO wafers, now this! I can’t wait to try a new Clark bar.

    btw: When I was in my 20’s a favorite treat was a cup of coffee and a Clark, Zagnut, or Zero bar!

    Comment by Bill on 4/19/10 at 7:15 pm #
  5. Hmm… I’ve never really been fond of Clark bars, but I haven’t had one in years!

    Comment by Claryn on 4/19/10 at 11:38 pm #
  6. I can’t wait to try one!!  I’m so glad to see a company doing the right thing for a change.  Honestly, I wish the U.S. would ban hydrogenated oils like The Netherlands did.

    Comment by Jonathan on 4/20/10 at 8:11 am #

    Comment by MeAlice on 7/24/10 at 2:22 pm #
  8. Hershey Corp has bought up most of the candy shelf leases in major stores like WalMart, Kroger, Walgreens, etc.  If you want candy made by other companies, such as Clark Bars, Sky Bars, etc. you have to look at stores that are not grabbed up by Hershey’s.  The best places in my city to by non-Hershey candy are Do-It-Best Hardware Stores (believe it or not) and Cracker Barrel.  Also - If you are in a small town and see a store that is locally owned, you’ll find all those great non-Hershey candies.

    Comment by Carla on 2/11/11 at 6:14 pm #
  9. Looking for a coconut candy bar besides Mounds and Almond Joy. I thought the name started with a C but I cannot remember for the life of me. I love Coconut!

    Comment by mb anderson on 4/05/11 at 4:24 pm #
  10. Cybele's avatar

    mb anderson - there’s a bar called Chick-o-Stick that’s like the inside of a Clark Bar rolled in toasted coconut.

    There’s also the Zagnut, but that, well, doesn’t start with C.

    Comment by Cybele on 4/05/11 at 4:34 pm #
  11. Where can I buy just the coconut clark bar??  I love them.

    Comment by Carol on 10/10/12 at 10:44 am #
  12. My CVS sells these for 99c. I tried a Clark bar today and it was exquisite.

    Comment by Scott on 2/10/14 at 10:20 pm #
  13. I grew up with these in the 50’s and 60’s and they were my favorite, then they change things in the 70’s and didn’t care for them anymore. Will try one again, now that they seem to have gone back to the ones I remember as a kid.

    Comment by Jim on 7/13/15 at 3:22 am #
  14. Well, Cybele (nice to start with a rhyme), regarding your first comments, of course, Necco is not known for candy bars, but before buying those Clark bars, they invented Sky Bar…....(ONE candy almost as much as their trademark flagship wafers that is so universally derided is something that Necco, I believe, has NEVER made: Circus Peanuts. I can only guess what varieties that they’d

    Comment by SteveCarras on 9/21/15 at 10:19 pm #
  15. Plus, about the Bewildered Brit, Cy, it is a private blog, so you might wanna go mention that (I used to eat Clark bars years ago. Odd thing. I had Necco wafers, than Butterfinger peanut butter cups, with Butterfinger being a major rival of Clark bars, which don’t have THEIR Reese’s like cups LOL>)

    AND, Carla, VERY interesting point about the apparent monopoly by Hershey’s of a number of natiional chains. I have a local store, Liquor Mart, which has:

    Big Cherry.


    (Curious, the health grocery store Fresh and Easy also has many regular stuff like candy bars and stuff like Big Cherry, Necco, Clark Bars, Idaho Spud,etc.are sold.)

    And of course many dollar stores (replacing those 5 and 10 stores that sold them earlier) carry all kinds of retro classics-Sky Bar, and others.

    Comment by SteveCarras on 9/21/15 at 10:25 pm #
  16. I had BOTH 5th Avenue (Rite Aid/Downtown L.A. a block east of the famous Pershing Square, Broadway/4th street), AND a Clark Bar (gone soft and melted in the sun, I might add; Universal Citywalk/Universal City, at It’s Sugar).Very good.

    Comment by SteveCarras on 11/02/15 at 8:16 am #
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