Energy bars play a number of roles in an athlete’s life. Sometimes we reach for them during hard workouts, sometimes as on-the-go meal replacements, and sometimes simply because we’re out of vitamin-infused gummy bears and need to convince ourselves we’ve chosen a snack with nutrients.

But these days there are so many different energy bar varieties that the choosy athlete finds herself at a crossroads: Which portable power choice will give me the most energy without tasting like a chemical spill?

In the interest of science, I assembled a crack team of energy-starved guinea pigs for a blind taste test to separate the power wheat from the power chaff. We dove deep into the catalogues of Clif and Larabar to see which bars taste like mouthwatering cake, and which bars you’d bribe a dog to bury in the backyard.

Out of a 15-bar sampling of top sellers, here are our Top 5 Energy Bars — and the one bar whose name we dare not speak (but we’re A-OK with writing it out).

5. Balance Bar Caramel Nut Blast (Score: 6.5/10)
Calories: 210, Fat: 7g, Carb: 23g, Sugar: 14g, Fiber: <1g, Protein: 14g
Tasters were uncertain about the "nut blast" flavor descriptor, but enthused about the bar’s candy taste. "Needs crunch," one reviewer lamented tersely.

4. Kashi Go Lean Roll Caramel Peanut (Score: 7/10)
Calories: 190, Fat: 5g, Carb: 27g, Sugar: 14g, Fiber: 6g, Protein: 12g
This reminded most tasters of a delicious, crunchy salted nut roll, though one confessed (somewhat dramatically) to feeling betrayed and assaulted by the mismatch of sweetness and peanuts.

3. Clif Carrot Cake (Score: 7/10)
Calories: 240, Fat: 4.5g, Carb: 44g, Sugar: 25g, Fiber: 5g, Protein: 9g
Tasters liked the spice and thought the bar was a good replica of carrot cake without icing, but were puzzled by the conflicting textures and questioned the value of a world without cream cheese icing.

2. Snickers Marathon Energy (Score: 9/10)
Calories: 210, Fat: 8, Carb: 26g, Sugar: 15g, Fiber: 5g, Protein: 13g
Arguably healthier than Clif, Snickers Marathon Energy was nonetheless cheerfully rated and described as crunchy, not too sweet and chocolate and nuts marries energy; this hit me in the spot reserved for tasty afterthoughts.

1. Clif Mojo Honey Roasted Peanut (Score: 9.75/10)
Calories: 200, Fat: 11, Carb: 26g, Sugar: 18g, Fiber: 2g, Protein: 9g
This crunchy delight was the clear winner. Tasters enthused, The sweet and salty taste sensations came at my mouth like gangbusters! And who could screw up peanuts and honey? Not Clif, apparently.

The Worst Energy Bar: SoyJoy Berry (Score: 3/10)
Calories: 130, Fat: 4.5, Carb: 17g, Sugar: 12g, Fiber: 3g, Protein: 4g
This bar served as a bready affront to all taste sensibilities and inspired reviewers to pen angry screeds on various holes it should be jammed into and/or buried. No amount of energy in the world is worth another bite of this hateful, berry monstrosity, one ranted, while another simply scrawled, Soft. Ugly. Offensive.

Check out the slideshow of the best energy bars

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