Review: Bakery on Main Granola and Granola Bars

Full disclosure: Bakery on Main provided the products featured in this review to me free of charge. However, the opinions expressed on these products are strictly my own.

This post is linked to Gluten-Free Wednesdays.

Bakery on Main is known as a great company. For one thing, it’s a small company that focuses on using natural ingredients. For another, its founder, Michael Smulders, set out to make gluten-free food that tasted really good after hearing so many gluten-free folks complain about the opposite being true of most gluten-free products. Getting Bakery on Main going was no small task; it took 2 years before he got his facility, ingredient suppliers, etc., in place. Bakery on Main products are made in a dedicated gluten-free facility with gluten-free ingredients, and are certified gluten free by the by GIG’s Gluten-Free Certification Organization—that means their products contain less than 10 parts per million (ppm) gluten. (NOTE: This is an update. Bakery on Main’s GFCO status is shown here on their FAQs page.) Here’s a brief statement from Bakery on Main on its history and focus.

“It all started in the small bakery of a natural foods market on Main Street in Glastonbury, Connecticut. Founder Michael Smulders listened to his Celiac customers complain about the taste of many of the gluten free options available to them. He thought that no one should have to suffer because of a food allergy or other special dietary need, and made it his mission to create products that were good for them but taste like they aren’t.

Late in 2003, after tasting a granola recipe one of the bakers was working on, Smulders said, “these gluten free people need granola!” He walked through the store and gathered ingredients and baked the first batch that day. It took almost 2 years to find gluten free sources of all the ingredients and find a place where we could make the product without risk of cross-contamination.
  
Three years and two bakeries later, their gluten free granola is made in a 34,000 square foot manufacturing facility with state of the art quality controls and in-house gluten testing on every batch. Located just a few miles down the road from the original bakery, the plant maintains the small bakery quality by continuing to bake in small batches.”

The truth is that I’ve had a little sweet spot in my heart for Bakery on Main since last year. Right before Thanksgiving, one of my support group members forwarded their Thanksgiving email newsletter to me because Bakery on Main had linked to my Crustless Pumpkin Pie. That was quite the pleasant surprise because I didn’t even know about Bakery on Main at that point. Later, Bakery on Main folks contacted me and sent their products for my review (shown above) and for my support group to sample, as well as product coupons for our members. In the granola department, we sampled Extreme Fruit and Nut Granola, Nutty Cranberry Maple Granola, Apple Raisin Walnut Granola, and Fiber Power Granola. (There’s a Rainforest Granola that I did not get to try. It contains dried bananas, roasted Brazil nuts, and coconut.) For granola bars, there were Peanut Butter Chocolate Chip, Cranberry Maple Nut, and Extreme Trail Mix. More recently, Bakery on Main has been adding to its granola bar line with three flavors of Soft and Chewy granola bars: Chocolate Almond, Peanut Butter and Jelly, and Apple Cinnamon.  The folks from Bakery on Main have been generous in sharing their products and very pleasant in our interactions.

So all that said, I really wanted to love Bakery on Main’s products. I should also tell you that I don’t consider myself an in-depth product reviewer. I’m much more about eating and cooking with real food. It’s very infrequent for me to sample gluten-free specialty products because they play a very small part in my gfe approach and when I do review them my main focus is simply whether I like the products myself. I don’t go into detailed descriptions and comparisons, etc. All of us are looking for different things in products. For granola and granola bars, personally, I want something with heft and crunch. Fiber and nutrition often come with those characteristics, but I won’t get into those factors much in this review. Also, in granola, I specifically like the chunky clusters that form when oats, nuts, and seeds bind with the sweeteners used.  

Taste testing Bakery on Main’s granola and granola bars was interesting. I found that one flavor would be very pronounced at first bite and then the taste would subside as I ate more of the product. Sometimes a product would start out tasting too artificial in its flavoring, but then taste okay after a few bites. The experience was rather strange actually. I really didn’t find that any of the flavors stood out on their own. The granola flavors were all so similar that they were sort of indistinguishable to me. How could Apple Raisin Walnut Granola taste like Nutty Cranberry Maple Granola? I suppose daily consumers and fans of Bakery on Main would say that they don’t, but there was not enough of the named flavors/ingredients to distinguish them for my tastes. 

Tasting the original granola bars played out the same way. Peanut Butter Chocolate Chip, Cranberry Maple Nut, and Extreme Trail Mix should have been very distinctive, but were still pretty non-descript to me. The Peanut Butter Chocolate Chip was my favorite of the group, but even the peanut butter flavor in it was very mild. That could be a good thing for some. If you normally dislike peanut butter, you’d probably still like this granola bar.  However, I like a product to really taste like what its called, what it’s supposed to taste like. The texture of all these products is just not substantial enough for my liking. Like I said, I wanted that heft and crunch in both the granola and original granola bars and it just wasn’t there. Likewise, the granola really didn’t have what I’d call chunky clusters.

Bakery on Main’s  new granola bars are billed as soft and chewy. They lived up to their label of Soft and Chewy and are quite pleasant in their texture. What about taste? Well, I sampled Chocolate Almond flavor first. I found it to be very enjoyable overall as an after-work snack. Another time I tried the Apple Cinnamon bar. The first bite yielded a fake type apple flavoring in my opinion, but the bar tasted more natural as I finished it. Again, strange. I saved the Peanut Butter and Jelly one for Son. (When Linda shared her Thumbprint Cookies recently, she talked about her husband’s feelings on jelly, and I’m pretty much the same way, so I was happy to pass that one on.) Son liked it and would have eaten more if I’d had any left to share with him. So, in conclusion, while I don’t dislike Bakery on Main’s products, I didn’t really like most of them—meaning I wouldn’t buy them for myself. I’ll keep making my own granola on occasion.

But, please don’t take just my word on these products. My support group members love Bakery on Main products. I divvied up the sample leftovers and sent several members home with “carryout” containers; they were all very happy. And, like I said earlier, Bakery on Main sent coupons for all of my members, too. Again, my folks were pleased to get them as they enjoy the Bakery on Main products. I urge you to do your own research and decide. Note that the Soft and Chewy bars contain no GMOs, no dairy, and no trans fat. They are made with certified gluten-free oats, amaranth, quinoa, flax seeds, and chia seeds. FYI:  To introduce its new line of granola bars, Bakery on Main is offering free shipping on your entire order if you order any of their Soft and Chewy Granola bars. (It’s my understanding that the Soft and Chewy aren’t yet available in stores or from other online sources.) Bakery on Main also uses ingredients like unsulphured/freeze-dried fruits, brown rice syrup, evaporated cane juice, canola oil and sea salt.

Here are several more reviews of Bakery on Main products from blogging friends whose opinions I trust and respect. We all have different perspectives and tastes in food, so if you haven’t tried Bakery on Main granola and granola bars yet, be sure to read these reviews for more insight.

Pete and Kelli at No Gluten, No Problem

Erin at Gluten-Free Fitness

Wendy at Celiacs in the House

Linda at The Gluten-Free Homemaker

Kim at Gluten-Free is Life

Jenny at Creative Cooking Gluten Free  

You can also read comments from other folks who have tried Bakery on Main products here and via the product links above. 

While I’m catching up with my posts, you can catch up on my 25 Days of Christmas posts via the links below. Check out my review of Kelly Brozyna’s new cookbook, The Spunky Coconut Grain-Free Baked Goods & Desserts, and enter the giveaway. It ends tomorrow, so get your name in the hat!

Day 1 – Gluten-Free Holiday Giveaway Galore x 10—Giveaway of the new book, Mommy, What is Celiac Disease?, plus gluten-free treats and fun stuff. (Although giveaway has ended; you can still order Katie’s new book here. )

Day 2 — Guest Post from Debi Smith (Hunter’s Lyonesse)—My Journey Back to Healthy Living

Day 3 — Corn and Butter Bean (or Lima Bean) Casserole for A Gluten-Free Holiday 

Day 4 — Little Cayman Beach Resort Review

Day 5 — 20 (Plus) Thoughts on International Food Bloggers Conference

Day 6 — Nutiva Products (Coconut, Hemp x 2, & Chia) Review and Giveaway (Giveaway has ended.)

Day 7 — Reindeer Antlers Punch for Share Our Holiday Table (You can still give and feed a child.)

Day 8 – Flourless Pecan Sandies (Gluten Free, Grain Free, Dairy Free)

Day 9 — Volcano Pancake and Other Breakfast Fare Plus Allegro Marinade

Day 10 – The Palate Peacemaker’s Pecan Butter & Pumpkin … Uh Oh … Cake!

Day 11 — Kitchen Table Bakers Crisps Review and Giveaway (Giveaway has ended.)

Day 12 — Guest Post: Linda Etherton (The Gluten-Free Homemaker)

Day 13 — The Spunky Coconut Grain-Free Baked Goods & Desserts Cookbook Review and Giveaway (Giveaway ends Sunday, December 19.)

Day 14 — Sweet and Crunchy Snack Mix and Classic Spicy Snack Mix (Make Great Gifts … Even Last Minute)

Day 15 — Winners, Gluten-Free Holiday, and Super Short Roundup  

 

 

Shirley
Not just gf, but gfe!

Full Disclosure/Disclaimer: This post may contain one or more affiliate links. If you purchase through them, your cost will always be the same, but I will receive a small commission. Thanks for the support! Read the full disclaimer here.

Comments

18 Responses to “Review: Bakery on Main Granola and Granola Bars”

  1. Alisa Fleming on December 19th, 2010 3:29 pm

    I had the same experience as you did Shirley, and for that reason, didn’t bother tasting the bars. The Fiber Power granolas were very dry I thought, and all lacked in flavor. As you said, I couldn’t really tell one from another – just faintly. I think it seems like a great company, and would love to support them, but they do need to amp up the add-ins and flavor a bit! Just my opinion though, sounds like they have a loyal following.

    • Shirley on December 20th, 2010 7:53 am

      Hi Alisa–Thanks so much for validating my review. One begins to doubt oneself, you know? I think just by adding more add-ins and adding some more crunchy clusters, they could probably satisfy both of us. But, yes, they are a well-respected company and many love their products.

      Shirley

  2. Maggie on December 19th, 2010 10:55 pm

    Thanks for the honest review Shirley. I’ve seen Bakery on Main in our health food store. But I LOVE my homemade granola so I see no reason to buy theirs, and I’m not really a granola bar person. Maybe the kids will be when they’re in school so I’ll check them out then! xo

    • Shirley on December 20th, 2010 7:55 am

      Hi Maggie–Homemade granola rocks, doesn’t it? I’ve never been a big bar person at all, well, at least not purchased ones. We do enjoy any that I make. :-) I’m betting that you’ll just make granola bars when your kiddos go to school. They will totally beat out any purchased bars. ;-)

      xo,
      Shirley

  3. Iris on December 20th, 2010 12:06 pm

    I did a (very brief) review of Bakery on Main a while back, and I felt about the same way about the granols. Didn’t dislike, but wasn’t a huge fan. I did like the granola bars a lot more, but since they have nuts in them, I won’t be eating them again.

    • Shirley on December 21st, 2010 11:15 pm

      Hey Iris!–I need to go find your review and link to it here. I like giving folks several perspectives. It’s rather reassuring to know that I’m not alone … thank you. Are the folks who really like these products anti-traditional granola I wonder? I know at least one person said that she didn’t like the overly crunchiness and chewiness of traditional granola, but liked Bakery on Main’s products.

      Shirley

  4. Terry on December 22nd, 2010 10:24 am

    My problem is… I am gluten and sugar free. Do you know how hard it is to find somthing I can buy that is made with stevia or xylitol?

    Great review by the way!!

    • Shirley on December 22nd, 2010 10:02 pm

      Hi Terry–Yes, if you are looking for stevia or xylitol specifically and even most other refined sugar free options, it can be tough. But, since I rarely use any of the processed products anyway, it’s not a big deal to me. I’d much rather eat an apple with some nuts or perhaps some almond butter, or even leftover dinners for my breakfast. While I would have recommended the Bakery on Main products if I’d really liked them, it woud have still been unlikely that I would have bought them … perhaps on occasion if on travel. It’s so easy to make one’s own meals, treats, etc. I’m assuming you’ve already found Ricki’s (Diet, Dessert, and Dogs) blog. It’s a great resource for those who are on an anti-candida diet.

      Thanks for the kind words on the post!
      Shirley

  5. Bakery On Main on December 27th, 2010 12:55 pm

    Thank you Shirley for taking the time to write such a detailed and honest review. We truly do appreciate and take into consideration any and all feedback we get, so I will make sure your thoughtful feedback and that of your readers gets directly to Michael Smulders himself.

    Just one correction – we are GFCO certified gluten free by GIG :)

    • Shirley on December 27th, 2010 1:08 pm

      Hi Sara–Thanks so much for taking the time to comment and your gracious response! I’m very happy that Bakery on Main welcomes feedback to improve its products. :-) I also appreciate you pointing out your GFCO certification; that is huge to me and many others. I went back and found that info on your FAQs page and I’ve updated my post accordingly. I do think that Bakery on Main should have this info “front and center” though … on your main page and several others spots, because what I honed in on was your statement on “in-house gluten testing” in your brief history here, which I included in my post. In-house testing certainly can and should be done by companies who offer gluten-free products, but I do think the wording on your site may be confusing to the reader/prospective buyer.

      All the best,
      Shirley

      • Bakery On Main on December 27th, 2010 1:22 pm

        Thank you for the suggestion on the certification – this website is brand new for us, so it will be a continual work in progress and we will definitely use your suggestion :)

  6. Hallie on January 6th, 2011 11:26 pm

    I am a huge fan of Bakery on Main Granola. So much so in fact, that Giant Food which I have patronized since I left my parents’ home in 1971 is now going to lose me as a customer because they have stopped carrying this, my most favorite breakfast cereal. I think it’s even better than my mother’s own homemade granola and that’s really saying a great deal. It gets my day rolling in the morning and I can’t do without it. That, my dears, is how strongly I feel about it!

    Wegman’s here I come (as long as you keep stocking it)! Giant’s loss – your gain!

    • Shirley on January 7th, 2011 7:24 am

      Hi Hallie–Welcome to gfe! :-) Thanks for providing your enthusiastic review of BOM granola, too. I know it has some very loyal fans, and you’ve certainly shared your devotion to BOM. I appreciate you taking the time to join in on the conversation!

      Shirley

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