How Much is Inside Granola Bars?

How much of the space in a box of granola bars is actual granola?

Granola bars. At first glance, they might seem like of sturdy logs of oats, peanuts and dried apple bits, scraped from the floor of some dusty hippy factory.

Although this box looked like enough granola to satisfy an entire drum circle, granola bars are infamous for the being over-packaged. Sean, Brooke and I wondered, how much granola is inside a box of granola bars? 

On Friday night, we decided to find out. 

We had selected a box of Nature Valley Chewy Trail Mix Bars. This brand had the fewest roots and twigs. In fact, this was the recipe used as the trail for the Wonka factory park.

The 7.4 ounce box was $3.99.

The first thing to do was to measure the box. It was 6 1/2 inches wide, 5 5/8ths inches tall, and 1 3/4 inches deep, totaling 64 cubic inches.

Lounging inside, there were six bars, individually wrapped.

The box also contained a generous serving of fresh air.

Brooke had an idea to test the actual packing limits of the box.

We loaded our box to see what it would hold if it was really full...ten bars!

One by one, we unwrapped them.

Stripped of their shiny Mylar wrappers, the bars seemed... small.

We lumped all six of them into a solid block for easy measuring. Now we could determine how much of the box had actually been occupied by granola, and how much had been lies!

The resultant granola block was similar in size to a hunk of uncooked ramen noodles.

 Block O' Ramen:  $0.22

Block O' Granola:  $3.99

Either one would make a sad lunch. 

Sean had a great idea to bring a rich new income stream into the Top Ramen company: Mixed Berry Ramen!

To be precise, the six-bar block was 4 inches tall, 3 7/8ths inches wide, and 1 1/4th inch thick, for a total granola volume of 19.375 cubic inches.

Our consumer instincts had been correct! The 64 cubic inch box had been filled mostly with air.

Many products are overpackaged, but a box of granola bars is a sad matryoshka: Disappointment within a disappointment.

Granola has a long history, and it has left its mark on a lot of people's camping experience.

Remember Granola Jenga around the campfire?

Remember sculpting adorable granola raccoons for your lady friend?

Oh, who cares about a little deceitful packaging? Granola bars blazed a trail into all of our hearts a long time ago, and in our hearts, granola bars will camp forever.