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PB Max Candy Bar … Portly Ballerina? Nah … Try “Protein Bar”

From the time it hit store shelves in 1989, the PB Max candy bar was a hit for Mars — who didn’t seem to know what to do with their good fortune.

For one thing, the company played on the monogram in the candy bar’s name. I mean, what in the heck could “PB” stand for? *wink* *wink*

Well, Mars let us know through its catch commercials that “PB” did NOT mean …

Piggy Banks

Polka band

Portly ballerina

Platinum blonde

Penguin black-belt

Pig basketball

Plow boy

Pure bliss (even though it totally was)

Parachuting buffalo

Pink baboon

Nah, “PB” stood for “peanut butter” — the revelation of which was one of the biggest “duh” moments in advertising history.

I mean, you could practically smell the peanut butter through the TV screen, taste it as soon as you walked into a store selling PB Max — or even thinking about selling PB Max.

These things were unreal — a cookie base the creamiest peanut butter this side of heaven, topped with crunchy oats, all covered with smooth-as-silk milk chocolate.

Or, as Wikipedia puts it, enrobed in smooth-as-silk milk chocolate.

Yeah, it was freaking amazing. And huge. It was a brick of teeth-rotting, artery-clogging, smile-inducing all-American candy bar slapped down on your table like a slab of beef at a pioneer dinner.

Consider the nutrition profile — 240 calories, 5 grams of protein, 20 grams of carbohydrates, and 16 grams of fat.

Lots of fat, to be sure.

But, you know, most of that came from the peanut butter.

And you know what else came from the peanut butter? Those five grams of protein.

Now, five grams isn’t all that much in the grand scheme of things, but it’s like eating a whole cow (again) in 1980s candy bar terms.

For comparison, a 3 Musketeers checks in at 1.6 grams of protein (for a bar that’s 50% bigger by weight), plus eight grams of fat and 47 grams of carbs (40 of that are sugar).

Even Snickers, as packed with peanuts and satisfying as they are, offer up only three grams of protein.

And Reese’s Cups? Three point four grams for two cups (with 25% less overall weight than PB Max).

So PB Max doesn’t really fit with these others — it’s in the ballpark, but none fit its nutritional profile (and none are as tasty, though Reese’s has its own charms).

What does measure up to PB Max, then?

Clif Bars are in orbit at 250 calories, 40 grams of carbs, five grams of fat, and nine grams of protein.

So are PowerBar Chololate Peanut Butter Performance Energy Bars — 230 calories, 44 grams of carbs, and nine grams of protein.

Does that mean PB Max was an energy bar? A protein bar?

Not quite, but it was different than its candy brethren of the day. It had more protein, more fat (a la Zone), and “healthy” ingredients like oats and peanut butter (though hydrogenated).

It was a step toward the aisles and aisles of protein/energy/health bar choices we have today … and it may have just been ahead of its time.

Because, after just a few years, Mars killed PB, despite reaping millions of dollars in sales from their protein bars paisley ball-smackers.

(Judging by internet outpourings, PB Max remains one of the most popular discontinued candy lines of all time.)

The reason?

Well, according to Internet lore, it was because the bigwigs at Mars had some sort of aversion to peanut butter.

So why did they release this thing into the wild in the first place? To deplete the world’s PB stores to unsustainable levels?

We may never know, but somewhere, there’s probably a Privileged Bureaucrat who does.

PB Max Candy Bar

(Wikipedia used for nutrition information across the board.)

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