Australian Muesli Bars Bore to Tears

Carman's Muesli Bars

Carman's Muesli Bars

I Paid: $5.79 for a box of six bars (prices may vary by region)

Taste: 2 stars

Marketing: 5 stars

Here are four reasons why Carman's Muesli Bars look better than they actually taste:

1. Choice of font. The old-timey handwriting-style typography on the box conveys honesty, wholesomeness, and a certain self-aware homespun sophistication.

2. The amount of text on the box. Why tell us so much about the product and its ingredients if it's not terrific and terrific for us? Just on the front of the package, we've got the kitchen-friendly/chemical-hostile corporate philosophy, detailed but focused descriptions of each flavor of bar, a bunch of bonus check boxes (wheat free, dairy free, good source of fiber, no preservatives), and the nitty-gritty size and number of bar information.

3. The box proudly proclaims these things "Australia's Premium Gourmet Muesli Bars." Well, they must be pretty dang good to have made it all the way over to our grocery stores, right?

4. The flavors. Apricot and Almond. Classic Fruit. Original Fruit-Free. Simple yet enticing. No damned açaí or pomegranate to be found.

So, kudos on the marketing. These things look like they should be killer. But sadly they are not, in fact, all that. Apricot tastes only briefly and faintly of the fruit and has a dull oaty body flavor and a hollow aftertaste. Original is dense, not sweet enough, and tastes strongly of sunflower seeds. The Classic Fruit variety is the strongest of the three and would be worth eating again—it's a bit sweeter than its dour colleagues and has more textural variance and real pieces of fruit (sultanas, currants, and diced apricots) that lend it some interest. While it’s admirable that these bars hew to a Spartan, non-Snickers extreme, they could, in general, do with a great deal of livening up. Australia: You can do better than this.

James Norton edits the Upper Midwestern food journal Heavy Table. He's also the coauthor of a book on Wisconsin's master cheesemakers. Follow CHOW on Twitter, and become a fan on Facebook.