Soy Joy Bars: Butter? Eggs? Cheese? Joy? Not So much.

I recently attended Vital Juice Daily's Wellness Fair, here in NYC. It was a rainy Saturday, and set up inside the old Virgin Megastore were a healthy array of brands giving away free samples and wellness-insider news. I visited KeriBar, by dietitian Keri Glassman, love her and those bars. Canyon Ranch: bliss. Blue Print Cleanse giving away sample sizes of their yummy Spicy Lemonade. Attune Bars and the GNC folks trying to get me to sign up for a Gold card. No thanks. I was also given a few free samples at SoyJoy. "Are these vegan?" I asked, expecting them to say yes. But the response was no! And the SoyJoy Rep's explanation was a little bit annoying. Healthy food: marketing facts or marketing fiction? I review a SoyJoy bar...

It's Not Just Me. Before writing this review, I decided to research and see what other bloggers are reporting on these bars. Here are a few of the quotes I found:

"I almost couldn't choke down the hard, dry first bite of the Strawberry bar, let alone finish the almost powdery and strangely chewy-hard textured brick." -Slashfood

"As exciting as it was to get free treats in the mail, I'm sorry to say these bars are pretty gross. They look homemade which is cool, but they tasted more like cookies gone bad." -FitSugar

Is SoyJoy vegan? Nope. Really, not vegan? A soy bar? Why not? Two slightly un-informed booth workers proceeded to check the label for me, almost as if they had never done so before. Soy joy is not vegan. They explained that this 'healthy' bar contained butter, eggs, whole milk and even cheese. Now is it just me or does that throw anyone else off? I read 'soy' and I sometimes assume that soy ingredients are used instead of dairy. Not so. These soy bars remind me a lot of the dairy-free veggie cheese that contains casein, aka milk-protein. Totally absurd.

Baked Goods Branding. SoyJoy uses branding that markets their soy bars to taste like baked goods, because they use the same ingredients in most traditional baked goods: eggs, butter, whole milk, milk chocolate, and even butter oil. Baked good, maybe, but isn't SoyJoy marketing their product as a healthy? I mean they were at a Wellness Fair. And they are constantly advertising in vegetarian markets. And their website reads like they are selling an ancient anti-aging secret. But really it is just soy stuffed into a baked good bar. Personally, if I ate baked goods I'd go for the good stuff like a home-baked cookie with a side of soy milk. Not this bar.

How Much Protein? So the theory is that you buy these bars for the soy goodness right? Well guess what, each bar only has 4 grams of soy protein! That's less than a cup of soy milk! Oddly, the SoyJoy FAQ's say that each bar contains 8 grams of whole soy. They must have included the fat, carbs and fiber in the 8 grams for that misleading answer.

Taste Test. Since the soy bars are not vegan. (That sounds weird) I won't eat them But my husband proceeded to taste test the sample we were given: Mango Coconut. Six grams of fat and 3.5 grams of saturated fat. That's 18% your RDA of saturated fat from one little soy bar. He couldn't finish it. He expected a 'baked goods' taste considering the eggs and butter. But no such luck. It was a hard bar. Not so tasty.

SoyJoy Ingredients: Take a look at the ingredients in these bars: butter, milk, milk chocolate, eggs, sugar, Parmesan Cheese (in the Peanut Butter Chocolate flavor I might add-weird), chocolate liquor, dextrose and brown sugar. Not my idea of healthy vegan ingredients. I just don't get how they reasoned Parmesan cheese into a 'healthy' bar. Now if the bars tasted fantastic, they would have more of a case from vegetarians. But hard-as-a-rock (the first reaction from my taste-tester) does not seem tasty to me.

Soy is Joy. I applaud SoyJoy's plight to bring high quality whole ground soy bean to the mass markets of people. But there is a lot of confusion and propaganda from their marketing. I will bet a lot of people eat these bars thinking, wow I'm being so healthy right now. But 3.5 grams of saturated fat from one tiny bar is not so healthy.

Craving non-vegan soy? Go eat a real cookie, with a glass of soy milk.

My Advice to SoyJoy: Re-brand. Cut out the butter, eggs and milk and go vegan. Keep the high quality whole bean soy and add in more of the healthy stuff. Bars aren't as trendy as they used to be, so you really gave to be on top of your flavor, texture and nutrition game to sell bars. I could tell you the perfect vegan bar, but that's a whole second post...Good luck!

EVENT NOTE: I want to add that the majority of the participants at Vital Juice Daily's Wellness Fair were awesome! They even had live exercise classes going on-for free. It was a fabulous rainy day treat. So big shout-out to VJD for putting on the event. But next time, maybe nix the SoyJoy people. And tell GNC to lay off the 'membership card' pushiness! :)
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