Tuesday, January 17, 2012

Free's Kids HopLe Cereal Bars

הופלי! חטיף דגנים וניל מרשמלו
Free is a brand that specializes in "healthier" snacks. They have a full line of sugar free snacks that are marketed toward adults but now they teamed up with HOP! (an Israeli cable TV channel for young kids) to sell healthier cereal bar snack for children. This new Free HopLe cereal bar is available in two flavors; Vanilla Marshmallow and Chocolate Nougat.

Most of Free's products come in a fairly plain and boring green packaging but these HopLe cereal bars have a colorful and exciting box that is meant to get the kids attention. On that note I think they succeeded, but since we "don’t judge a book by its cover" let's see how they taste :)

Since all the other Free products I have ever tried were sugar free I was kind of surprised that these cereal bars were not sugar free, on the contrary the Vanilla Marshmallow one seemed extremely sweet to me. I have to say it was way too sweet for my taste. Kids may disagree with me on that and since these are geared toward kids' maybe it's not a bad thing that they're so sweet.

I can't say I actually tasted the vanilla too strongly but I did notice a slight vanilla aroma when I first opened the wrapper. The marshmallow seemed to give the bar a softer and gooier texture that I liked and thought kids would enjoy as well. 

I'm not sure how many kids are going to like the Chocolate Nougat ones. I found them to have a very strong and slightly bitter cocoa flavor, I didn’t like that. I can't say I really pick up on that much of a nougat taste but I guess it was there somewhere behind the cocoa. When I "sandwiched" both bars together the sweetness of the Vanilla Marshmallow one and the strong cocoa flavor of the Chocolate Nougat one sort of balanced each other out and made for a somewhat decent flavor, still far from a winning cereal bar in my book.

As I read the package more carefully I had a hard time working out what was so healthy about these cereal bars. Yes they are only 79/83 calories for a 22 gram bar and they are gluten free, have no preservatives, trans fats, food coloring cholesterol or lactose but a)neither do many other cereal bars have any of those things and b) they do have 4 grams of sugar for a 22 gram bar plus Maltitol, which is  sugar alcohol, I'm just not sure that qualifies this bar as healthy per se. Not to mention Free added artificial flavoring which I picked up on and didn’t enjoy when I tasted the bar. I'm no expert but I kind of think there are healthier snacks out there for kids than these cereal bars.

One impressive thing about these HopLe Free Cereal Bars is that a part of the profits from these cereal bars will be donated by Free to Beit Issie Shapiro.

Beit Issie Shapiro is a national, multi-purpose organization that develops and
  provides services for children and adults with developmental disabilities. It has played a leading role in promoting the inclusion of people with special needs in society and is a vigilant advocate for better legal provisions for and with people with special needs

The organization was founded in 1980 and has a measurable impact on some 30,000 people, annually. Through its international affiliations, community education and training programs its impact is also reaching professionals in other countries around the world.

Bottom Line: Although I liked the texture of the gooey chewy Vanilla Marshmallow Free HopLe Cereal Bar I thought it was too sweet and the artificial flavoring after taste bothered me but when I mixed it together with the overly cocoa flavored Chocolate Nougat Bar they seemed to be a bit more enjoyable, still (taste wise) this not something I plan on buying again. I don’t think these bars are all that healthy but it can be a good sweet option for kids who are on a gluten-free or lactose-free food plan.

It's always nice when a company gives back to the community so I was glad to see that proceeds from this product will be donated to a good cause; Beit Issie Shapiro.

Box of 5 cereal bars 110 grams in all – 15.90 NIS

Kosher Mehadrin Parve
בד"ץ בית יוסף

Disclaimer: All items were purchased by me. No one is paying me for this review. All opinions are my own


  1. As a mom of young children i find it very disturbing when companies try to market "healthy" stuff for kids that are more "junky" than healthy for them... writing gluten free or lactose free on the packaging does not necessarily qualify a product as the healty choice for kids

  2. well said ! my thoughts exactly!