For Food On The Go, Bars Are Eating Up The Competition

Dieter, beware: Weight-loss fads can be bad for your health

The popularity of bars “is a perfect reflection of where we are culturally,” says Mollie Katzen, who has been writing cookbooks since the counterculture days. Her latest, “The Heart of the Plate: Vegetarian Recipes for a New Generation,” is out this fall Bar makers are slicing the market to attract very specific customers: dieters on Medifast ; the socially responsible with This Bar Saves Lives (which donates to abate hunger); or athletes with Builder’s Max bar, which has 30 grams of protein, made by the 20-year-old company Clif. Many consumers are looking for protein sources that are cheaper than meat, so that’s one draw, but bars are not necessarily cheap; they can top $5. Whatever happened to packing a sandwich or leftovers from last night’s dinner, asks Katzen, who says her daughter, a young adult living in New York City, carries bars in her bag because they’re easy. Shane Emmett, chief executive of Health Warrior, which makes Chia Bars, gets that. The former college swimmer now has a baby, runs and even does push-ups in his Richmond, Va., office. “I wish I could make a giant pot of kale for lunch every day, but I’m too busy,” he says. “Americans genuinely aspire to be healthier, genuinely aspire to push back against the modern Western diet, but they are not going to sacrifice taste and convenience.” Many people are, however, willing to sacrifice a meal by substituting a bar. “By their nature you make certain compromises from a nutrition standpoint,” says David Heber, director of the UCLA Center for Human Nutrition. But sometimes “that’s your best choice. If there’s nothing but fast food around, it could be a good thing to have.” Bars have been around since the 1970s, thanks to the granola bars of the hippie era, Heber says.

Allen Salkin’s ‘From Scratch’ is the definitive account of the 20-year-old Food Network

Chef Bobby Flay has mastered the system and is not a diva.

This company which used to be in the star-making business seems to have lost the recipe, he says. Trust me, they are desperately trying to find it. They just dont know what the new Food Network star looks like. Based on what he learned, we asked Salkin for the skinny on the networks biggest stars, and to dish on the divas. Heres the verdict. David Handschuh/New York Daily News Chef Bobby Flay has mastered the system and is not a diva. Rachael Ray Shes Babe Ruth, says Salkin, and incredible to watch. The crew is almost asleep when shes on camera because they know nothing is going to go wrong. Verdict: not a diva Stephen Lovekin/Getty Images Rachael Ray is comfortable on camera and things on her show tend to run smoothly. Sandra Lee She wanted to be a star. She didnt care how. She is a star, the author says. Though Lee has claimed that she doesnt have recipe writers, Salkin uncovered two. There is so much that doesnt add up. Verdict: diva Guy Fieri Salkin says Fieris a genuine American original, but, Hes surrounded by 7-foot-tall hulking bodyguards. He rolls with his posse. Hes a guy with an entourage. They do what entourages do.