When American adventurer Colin O’Brady set out to become the first human to cross Antarctica alone, unaided by resupply or any wind-gathering kite, he knew a special energy bar would be instrumental to his success.
Packed into his 400-pound sled of gear were hundreds of the 1,250-calorie “Colin Bars” that served as his main sustenance for the trek. He’d start the day with some oatmeal and end it with a freeze-dried dinner, but the Colin Bars — made by nutrition company Standard Process — were what kept him alive for 54 days while on his skis, battling blisteringly cold winds and frostbite-inducing temperatures.
“I’ve got a little bit of calories on either end of that — at the beginning, end of the day — but that’s kind of the main calories I have in my sled,” O’Brady told Business Insider before he started his 932-mile journey at the bottom of the world.
On day 13 of his trek, O’Brady told his Instagram followers, “I eat about 500 calories worth of bar every 90 minutes when I stop to take a 5 minute break.” By the time he finished the trek, O’Brady had lost about 20 pounds.
Now that O’Brady has broken the record and safely returned to the US, he stopped by Business Insider’s office for a chat. His wife and business partner, Jenna Besaw, brought along a few Colin Bar samples for us to taste.
The bar is extremely high-fat: built from a base of coconut oil, it also includes some nuts, seeds, and cocoa powder.
People in our office were a bit skittish about trying the bar at first. Could a snack made to withstand sub-zero temperatures and fuel an athlete burning 7,000 calories or more each day possibly taste good?
None of us dared to gobble up a full 1,250 calorie bar, but once we tasted some little chunks, the most common reaction was, “Hey, not so bad.”
“I’d eat it,” science intern Peter Kotecki said with a shrug.
Some people said they tasted hints of cranberries, dates, and pistachio. Others complained of the bar’s sandy consistency, akin to a protein shake or Power Bar, and noted an off-putting aftertaste.
Not wanting to take any chances in crafting an energy bar for O’Brady, Standard Process ran a bevvy of tests on him to determine which foods might trigger an inflammatory response in his body.
The results led them to leave out peanuts, oranges and flax seeds, doubling down instead on coconut oil and dried fruit like cranberries, as Outside Magazine reported.
There was one problem with eating the bar in our balmy, temperature-controlled office: the oily bars quickly glistened with fatty sweat, making them look pretty unappetizing.
Of course, it’s important to remember that Standard Process didn’t develop the bar for the type of people in our office, who spend their days at warm, dry desks at 40.7128° N latitude.
The Colin Bar was made for just one guy, in just one cold, dry place. But even now, O’Brady is not complaining about the food.
“Still don’t mind ’em,” he said.