REVIEW: CTRL Meal-On-The-Go Bars

Flavors Tried: Magic Charms, Choc Chip Cookie Dough

Price: $35.99 for box of 12 ($2.99 per bar)

Nutrition: 280 Calories, 13g Fat, 34g Carbs (0g Fiber & 13g Sugar), 15g Protein

2024 Update: CTRL has reformulated its bars, so this review contains both v1 and v2. “Magic Charms” is the original bar, and Choc Chip Cookie Dough” is the newest formula.


To be perfectly honest, I had never heard of CTRL before (which stands for Catered To Real Life), but I was hit with a targeted ad for their products and they knew exactly what they were doing.

Not only did the amazing-looking photos sell me on these bars, but the fact that the two flavors contain Lucky Charms and cookie dough pieces… yeah, I was immediately sold.

CTRL makes products that are geared toward gamers, and the idea behind all of their products is to create functional foods. In other words, they’re high-protein and well-rounded snacks that aren’t trying to be your typical low-sugar or keto-friendly option.

They’re just trying to be delicious and overall healthy.

Because these are called “meal on-the-go” bars and not just “protein bars,” it’s clear that they don’t just want to be another typical protein bar.

Based on the looks of these bars, I went in expecting something similar to Anabar. That’s another nut butter-based bar that is a bit higher in calories and sugar, so it seems like these might tell a similar story.

Magic Charms CTRL Bars (Original Formula)

Magic Charms CTRL bar

Shipping wasn’t kind to my Magic Charms bar, but even though it got a little bit squished, it was immediately clear that these bars have a very generous coating on the outside.

But I didn’t buy this bar for the exterior. I bought it for the Lucky Charms inside…

Magic Charms CTRL bar

One bite into this bar and I was met with a pretty dense and chewy texture, very similar to original Quest bars.

The flavor, however, was very good.

This bar mostly tastes like white chocolate, but authentic white chocolate and not some low-sugar or high-protein version of it.

The marshmallows add a subtle chewiness inside this bar which I really appreciated. They don’t add a ton of flavor, but enough to stay true to the flavor name and photos on the wrapper.

They almost taste like Lucky Charms when they first start going stale- a slight chew to them versus having a distinct crunch.

Overall, I love the flavor of these bars. If they were softer, more like Anabar was able to accomplish, they would be incredible. As someone who loves white chocolate (and cereal) this bar delivers on flavor.

Choc Chip Cookie Dough CTRL Bars (Updated Formula)

This flavor is an update from my original review. For context, CTRL recently revamped their packaging, and it seems like it might have gone through a slight reformulation as well. I got my hands on this bar at the Arnold Expo and it was in much better shape than the original bar I had shipped to me, so I wanted to give it another try.

When I tried this bar the first time around it was extremely dense and chewy. It looks like CTRL has improved the texture a bit, and now the texture reminds me a lot of Anabar.

The chocolate coating is delicious, and it reminds me more of milk chocolate than dark chocolate. Cashew butter is now the main ingredient in these bars, leading to a soft(ish) filling that is similar to many of the peanut butter-based protein bars out there,

What sets this bar apart is its actual cookie dough pieces inside. That’s right, ACTUAL cookie dough pieces.

The above photo doesn’t do it justice, but you can taste cookie dough in every bite.

I love that addition, but since this bar is already very sweet, the extra cookie dough kicks the sweetness up even further. My initial reaction was that this bar is delicious, but a bit too sweet for me. When I went back to try this bar again the next day, it reiterated that this bar was too sweet.

I happen to love sweets, but this one is a bit too much for me. If it were toned down, it would be an excellent protein bar.

Overall Thoughts: CTRL Bars

CTRL Protein Bars

So, what changed with CTRL’s newest protein bar formula? The original bar contained 9 grams of fiber, leading to a chewy protein bar. The newest formula eliminated the fiber and bumped up the fat & sugar, leading to better texture but a sweeter bar with less impressive macros.

The original formula that I tried (The Magic Charms Bar) had incredible flavor, but the bar was far too dense and chewy. It also contained 240 calories with 15 grams of protein, which isn’t overly impressive, but not too bad either.

Since this review needs to be able to help you determine whether or not you should buy these bars, I’ll go ahead and move forward with the newest formula: I think these bars took a step back.

When I tried the original CTRL bars, there was so much potential there. The flavors were incredible, but I found myself wishing that the texture would improve and become less chewy.

CTRL gave me my wish, but at the expense of the nutrition facts. A protein bar with 280 calories and 15 grams of protein isn’t the end of the world (it’s exactly what Outright Bars contain), but it is not overly impressive, either. Pair that with the elimination of fiber and the higher sugar, and these are much more a high-protein candy bar than a protein bar.

And in that light, I think you’re better off going with Anabar for more protein and more balanced flavors.

CTRL cookie dough bar
REVIEW: CTRL Meal-On-The-Go Bars
CTRL bars have good flavor, but they are very sweet and lack the nutrition facts that would make this a go-to protein bar. The texture is very similar to Anabar, but overly sweet with less protein overall.
Flavor Accuracy
Overall Taste
The Good
Enjoyable flavor
Uses real Lucky Charm marshmallows & cookie dough pieces
No artificial or protein taste
Uses cashew butter as a base for subtle flavor vs strong peanut butter flavor in most bars
The Bad
Very sweet
Contains no fiber
Give 'Em A Try
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