Thursday, October 15, 2009

Swiss Army Energy Bar Chocolate

Swiss Army Energy Bar ChocolateI found out about Traditional Swiss Army chocolate a couple of years ago, they were a raffle prize for the annual Menu for Hope fundraiser

I was surprised and pleased when I ran into the bars at the nearby Cost Plus World Market.

There are three varieties with a bold package design that keeps in tune with the Swiss Army style of the red shield with a white cross. The bars are larger than most American single-serve chocolate bars, about half the size of the typical 3.5 ounce (100 gram) tablet.

The wrapper calls them Survival Portions though the rest of the package is rather vague about how these help you survive, or what exactly the challenge is that needs a portion for survival.

Swiss Army Energy Bar Chocolate - Milk Chocolate with corn flakes & guaranaI think the design on the wrapper is great. The bold design of the logo caught my eye immediately and the nice placement of the description & statement that it contains caffeine from guarana is easy to see.

It’s billed as Swiss Army Energy Bar Chocolate - Skimmed Milk Chocolate with Cornflakes and Guarana.

Guarana is an Amazonian vine related to the maple tree that produces a little fruit with seeds high in caffeine. In its purest form I understand the roasted fruits/seeds are a bit like cocoa powder, a bit astringent and bitter but also with some pleasant cocoa & coffee flavors. In this instance it’s just a guarana extract and it only makes up 1/2% of the total bar.

Swiss Army Energy Bar Chocolate - Milk Chocolate with corn flakes & guarana

It’s quite a nice looking bar - shiny and nicely molded with scored pieces for easy portioning.

Once I broke the bar it was easy to see the little cornflake bits. It smells rather sweet but also slightly malty, which I attributed to the cornflakes.

The texture is quite smooth, though not quite silky because of the cereal bits. It’s sweet but the slightly salty, mildly malty cornflakes plus the dairy notes of the milk made it all work. I only got the slightest hint of caffeine bitterness that lingered high and light at the finish.

Swiss Army Energy Bar Chocolate - Dark Chocolate with corn flakes & guaranaSwiss Army Energy Bar Chocolate - Dark Chocolate with Cornflakes and Guarana

After the creamy experience with the milk chocolate version, I was thinking perhaps this one would be nice but probably sweet. I was happy to see that the first ingredient is cacao mass and the second sugar then cocoa butter ... so this was going to be pretty chocolatey.

It has the same 1/2% guarana extract content, which amounts to about 42 mgs of caffeine per bar.

Swiss Army Energy Bar Chocolate - Dark Chocolate with corn flakes & guarana

The scent isn’t very complex, just sweet with a woodsy roasted note. The texture is smooth and has a good immediate melt. It’s a bit bitter with an overall fruity and berry note to the chocolate flavors and a little hint of smoke towards the end. I got a similar bitterness at the end as well that was different from the initial bitterness.

Swiss Army Energy Bar Chocolate - White Chocolate with Guarana & CoconutSwiss Army Energy Bar Chocolate - White Chocolate with Coconut and Guarana

The white bar is a bit different, first because it has coconut instead of cornflakes. It’s made with real cocoa butter, and quite a lot of it (the second item on the list of ingredients, right after sugar and followed by skimmed milk powder).

Of course all that fat amps up the calorie count here, this bar is 290 calories versus the 260 for the previous two bars. The other confusing aspect of the nutrition label is that it lists salt as an ingredient but says that there is no sodium in it.

Swiss Army Energy Bar Chocolate - White Chocolate with Guarana & Coconut

The bar is a light yellow, buttery looking block. The little white flecks of coconut are quite small. The overwhelming scent of the bar is coconut.

The bar melts readily and has a smooth texture, except for the soft & chewy coconut flakes. It’s sweet and milky but also has a fair bit of a salty note which keeps it from seeming too sticky like some white chocolates can. I might have preferred it with the cornflakes, but it’s still a fun bar. I didn’t sense any bitter aftertaste here, which may have just been the chocolate and not the guarana in the previous bars.

Swiss Army Energy Bar ChocolateWhat sets these bars apart, besides the Swiss Army branding is the caffeine content. It’s not that much at only 46 mg per bar, the same caffeine content as 1 ounce of espresso or a 4 ounce cup of coffee. And as I mentioned, the portions are quite generous for what is basically an “all chocolate” bar with only a few small inclusions.

They’re well priced for what they are, a quasi-novelty item but also a decent chocolate bar with a unique set of attributes. They’ll probably be very popular stocking stuffers this holiday season.

They have an odd website, it looks great, but feels a little off because of what appears to be a machine translation of the text. The wrappers say Imported into the USA by Cost Plus, Inc. so I’m guessing they’re the exclusive retailer for these here.

Name: Swiss Army Chocolate: Milk Chocolate, Dark Chocolate & White Chocolate
  • 10 SUPERB
  • 9 YUMMY
  • 8 TASTY
  • 7 WORTH IT
  • 4 BENIGN
Brand: Swiss Army
Place Purchased: Cost Plus World Market (Farmers Market)
Price: $1.99 each
Size: 1.75 ounces
Calories per ounce: 149, 149 & 166
Categories: Chocolate, Cookie, Coconut, Caffeine, Switzerland

POSTED BY Cybele AT 8:58 am Tracker Pixel for Entry    

  1. Wow, I am so glad you posted this. The whole “survival” think is actually is not so weird, although in the case of Costco imports, yeah, a gimmick.

    But there is a fascinating history of the uses of candy bars as military/survival rations. This goes back to the turn of the twentieth century, the German military was the first to investigate the energy-giving potential of sugar but also chocolate bars of various compositions. It was pretty common in WWI for soldiers to carry chocolate bars as emergency rations (there is a great story about a British soldier who survived his downing at sea with only chocolate bars until rescue arrived). Later the U.S. military worked closely with candy manufacturers to formulate bars that would stand up under difficult storage and temperature. Hershey’s Field Ration D (1937) was the first of these; now they make “Tropical Bars” and “Desert Bars” that taste like chocolate but don’t melt.

    Luckily, your Swiss Army bar was nothing like that. Althoug maybe regular chocolate would work for the Swiss Army, being in Switzerland and all, lucky soldiers.

    Comment by CandyProfessor on 10/15/09 at 11:49 am #
  2. Tricia's avatar

    They help you survive dementor attacks, of course.

    No, wait - that’s Dumbledore’s Army. Never mind!

    Comment by Tricia on 10/16/09 at 4:05 pm #
  3. Tricia's avatar

    Just read the part about guarana:

    Guarana is an Amazonian maple tree that produces a little fruit high in caffeine. In its purest form I understand the roasted fruits are a bit like cocoa powder, a bit astringent and bitter but also with some pleasant cocoa & coffee flavors.

    in Brazil, there are popular soft drinks called guarana, and if I’m remembering correctly (it’s been 15 years since I was there), they reminded me of ginger ale, so I’m surprised to read that the fruits have cocoa and coffee flavors. Interesting!

    Comment by Tricia on 10/16/09 at 4:11 pm #
  4. Ohhh… white chocolate- I’m buying smile

    Comment by Sallie on 10/17/09 at 1:25 pm #
  5. WoW!  I have never been to cost plus before - I guess now I have a reason to! 
    These look super delicious!

    Comment by Big Red Boots on 10/18/09 at 6:55 am #
  6. Thank you!I am so glad you posted this.

    Comment by AK on 10/26/09 at 4:43 pm #
  7. Fantastic review!  I had to make the trip to cost plus to try these out myself. I did not like the white chocolate as much as the others - I enjoyed the cornflake crunch a whole lot though!

    Comment by Big Red Boots on 12/02/09 at 10:24 am #
  8. Um, Guarana is absolutely *nothing* like what you described! How do you expect anyone to take you seriously when you didn’t even bother to Google for some basic info before you blogged about it? Guarana is anything but a Maple tree; it’s the nutted-fruit of a tropical vine from South America, specifically the Brazilian rainforest. The guarana fruit is a difficult to describe flavor, but it’s definitely fruit-like, nothing chocolaty about it. The caffeine doesn’t come from the fruit—it comes from the roasted nut/seed inside of it. Most Brazilian ‘Guarana’ drinks do not actually use the seed for caffeine (Bawls being a notable exception!), and the nut is rather bitter, hard, and very difficult to grind; it doesn’t really grind so much as it shatters into an ultra-fine powder, which is often added into various supplements for its stimulative properties. I have personally broken the blades on a coffee grinder trying to make ground guarana.

    Comment by The Spindrifter on 3/25/10 at 2:30 pm #
  9. Cybele's avatar

    Thank you The Spindrifter. I did do research and guarana is in the maple family though you are correct that it’s a vine. I don’t believe I said anything at all about it being like chocolate but that other people reported that it had some similar flavor elements.

    This is a candy blog, not a caffeine blog and I can only evaluate what I have in front of me. The particulars of guarana’s origin don’t have much to do with what I was eating. I corrected the small bits that you mentioned (that guarana is a maple vine not tree and that the seeds are the part with caffeine).

    Thank you for your first hand perspective.

    Comment by Cybele on 3/25/10 at 2:36 pm #
  10. Thank you for the nice presentation of my chocolate.  At the moment, costplus is the only importer in the states.

    We sell this chocolate since many years in Switzerland.

    Comment by Peter on 4/22/10 at 8:57 am #
  11. Do you know of any speciality stores or online distributors I can’t find any at my local cost plus world markets

    Comment by jared gonzalez on 9/29/14 at 11:52 am #
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