BARbarians quest for best square-shaped dessert

Blondies are just one example of the square-shaped snacks available at the College dining halls. Photo courtesy of Simplyrecipes.com.
Blondies are just one example of the square-shaped snacks available at the College dining halls. Photo courtesy of Simplyrecipes.com.

What the College lacks in bars – establishments that serve alcoholic beverages – it makes up for in bars – square-shaped desserts. The vast quantity of these treats in the dining halls can be downright overwhelming, not to mention the fact that most of us are unable to distinguish between a Congo bar and a Wilderness Bar. That’s why we’ve compiled this comprehensive list, ranking the bars from least to most delicious. While you really can’t go wrong with any of these options, you will now be able to make a more informed decision the next time you’re confronted with a major bar dilemma.

13. In dead last, Wilderness Bars have a lot of explaining to do. Masquerading as a dessert, this mysterious specimen is best left untouched, unless you’re looking for a healthier option. Even then, it might be best to go for some granola. Let’s be honest, does anyone know what’s in these? We’re pretty sure there are nuts and seeds, and chocolate is a definite possibility. While the air of mystery is intriguing, it is not enough for us to ditch the cereal and grab one of these.

12. The Rocky Road Brownies: When you see these bars from afar, your taste buds start to water. You are taken aback by its sheer beauty and grace. It looks delicious: it has chocolate and marshmallows. What could possibly go wrong? Then you hit the raisins. This bar is the Ryan Lochte of desserts – it looks fantastic, but then you get to know it, and you are utterly disappointed that its substance does not match its beauty. As Sarah Wieman ’16 said, “This is why we have trust issues.”

11. The ranking of Oatmeal Raisin Bars was highly contested, with the debate about raisins more so than the bar itself. For the raisin-haters, at least you see them coming. Whichever side of the raisin debate you fall on, these desserts seem too healthy (regardless of their actual nutritional value) to be very exciting or crave-able. As a snack, they’re great, but as a dessert, they just don’t cut it.

10. A childhood treat that just manages to crack the top ten, Rice Krispie Treats are a dessert staple. We’re so used them by now, though, that the snap, crackle and pop have all but disappeared. In addition to unreasonably sticky fingers, these bars are in danger of becoming as mediocre as the cereal from which they were created. As great as they were when we were nine, these just don’t have the zest to compete with some of the other, more refined bars on this list. Also, wasn’t half the fun of Rice Krispie Treats attempting to make them from scratch?

9. The biggest problem wit ng nature of its name. One would expect a Nutella Square to taste primarily of Nutella, but that’s not the case. The combination of shortbread and chocolate has potential, but the two fail to blend as well as one might hope. However, they are rich and inventive, and if the Nutella flavor were allowed to shine just a bit more, these could be real winners. Maybe adding a hint of peanut butter would do the trick as well.

8. Tollhouse Cookie Bars have a similarly misleading title. “Tollhouse” inspires visions of cookie dough or fresh-out-of-the-oven cookies. But upon the first bite, rather than gooey goodness, you get an almost fluffy, cake-like texture. Once you get past the initial heartbreak, the bars themselves are pretty good. Light and sweet, filled with chocolate chips, they’re extremely pleasant and pair nicely with a scoop of gelato.

7. Upon first glance, it’s easy to mistake a Congo Bar for our bottom-ranked Wilderness Bar, but these doppelgangers are much more delicious. It might be surprising that we’ve put these ahead of the Tollhouse Cookie Bars, but Congo Bars have a bit more to offer. The chocolate chip-walnut combo is subtle yet tasteful, and none of the flavors are too overwhelming. However, these bars lack a wow-factor, and they often leave us somewhat unsatisfied, just like a night spent at First Fridays.

6. Is it fudge? Is it cake? No! It’s a Brownie, silly! Depending on the day you meet one of these indulgent delicacies, it may be hard to tell which side of the brownie spectrum these fall on. But have no fear, the taste is all that matters, and the taste is chocolicious! Often cut into giant portions, they definitely offer a satisfying dessert for any meal. But be careful, because once you pick up one of these bad boys, you definitely won’t be able to put it down. Try it with a scoop of soft serve ice cream for an improved chocolaty dessert experience.

5. Magic Cookie Bars are truly a masterpiece. Some have described their experience with this dessert as the first time they have been, and I quote, “spiritually moved by food.” The complex layering of tastes – butterscotch, chocolate and coconut, among others – works to achieve a harmony of flavors and textures that is magical. Why, then, have we ranked this delicious treat at number five on our list? The answer is simple: coconut. It is a divisive ingredient. For many, coconut can make-or-break a dessert, and if the Magic Cookie Bar made it onto The Bachelor with a coconut-hating version of Juan Pablo, it would not receive a final rose.

3. Blondies (tie): One way or another I’m gonna find ya, I’m gonna getcha getcha getcha getcha. In many ways, Blondies are the ideal dessert. Not overly rich or sweet, pleasantly dense and chewy, they are nearly flawlessly executed. Just be sure to have a full glass of water by your side as you power through one of these bad boys, since they do leave you a little parched. Nevertheless, every day can be a Blondie day, and a Blondie day is a great day.

3. Chess Bars (tie): Chess Bars are a new addition to our dining establishments this year, and let us tell you, they were worth the wait. These are aptly named, since chess is a game that requires absolute focus and resolve. Trying to find something wrong with these bars is no different. With a hard-to-describe consistency – sort of a mixture between cake and custard – these bars are sure to make you surrender your Queen, aka your resolve to avoid desserts, for many meals to come.

2. Ah, the legendary Knock-You-Nakeds. The position of these celebrated bars was a topic of much debate. While many would deem these caramelly squares of chocolate goodness the ultimate College dessert, others have pointed out that it is primarily their rarity that makes them so anticipated; if served on a more regular basis, these supremely rich treats would lose much of their magic. And so, albeit practically perfect in every way, Knock You Nakeds land in second.

1. Just managing to knock Knock-You-Nakeds out of first place are the dark horse Cookie Bars. This prize contestant is a very moist delicacy with the density of a Blondie. To be 100-percent honest, we’re not even sure these things exist, though we swear they do and are different than Toll House Cookie Bars. All we know is that we stumbled upon the treat labeled just plain old “Cookie Bar” in Driscoll one day, but we were so blown away by its deliciousness that it’s possible it was all just a transcendent dream. If you are lucky enough to find them in a dining hall one day, use your squirrel instincts and steal them away for you and maybe your closest friends. We know we will search for their return until the day we graduate.

This article is by no means a definitive ranking. It is merely the final product of a year and a half’s work by a group of sugar-loving sophomores. After sacrificing our bodies on numerous occasions, we present to you this list. Enjoy, Williams. You are most welcome.

  • WhattheEph

    Some hard hitting journalism right here.

  • Mike Miller

    FYI – Hermit bars* used to be served too. And my classmate John JR Russell loved them sooooo much he composed a musical tribute to his favorite dessert. He posted his “Ode to Hermits” on the dining hall bulletin board. It wasn’t the end (nor the beginning) of his music career. He is now the conductor of the Cincinnati Pops.

    Mike Miller ’82
    *See http://allrecipes.com/recipe/hermit-bar-cookies/ for a recipe.