I ordered one of each 2400 calorie food bar from Emergency Essentials--Datrex, SOS, and Mainstay brands. They cost $4.95 each plus shipping, and some varieties are also available in 1200 and 3600 calorie packs. (Following picture: SOS top left, Datrex top right, Mainstay bottom.)
They are all vacuum packed in foil packaging. I didn't weigh each one, but they all were about the same weight, just different shapes. (Following picture: Mainstay left, SOS top right, Datrex bottom right--why I didn't arrange them the same in each picture, I do not know--I'll be sure and do that for my next review like this to keep my own confusion down!)Now for the part you've been waiting for. The analysis. (In the following picture Mainstay is top left, SOS bottom left and Datrex center right.)
We'll start with the Mainstay bar. It was divided into 6 pieces that were not individually wrapped. The taste was like lemon shortbread, heavy on the sugar and shortening. It had good flavor and was rated the favorite of at least 3 of us. It was not hard, but was very dry. For land applications, the instructions say to eat one bar 3 times a day, so they're counting on 2400 calories lasting you 2 days. I'm not too hip on the idea of skimping calories especially in a stressful situation, but I guess if it was all you had and you just wanted to stay alive, you could get by on that amount. Sea applications, eat 2 bars per day (guess you wouldn't be moving as much).
Next was the SOS bar. It is divided into 6 individually wrapped pieces. It was a little harder than the Mainstay bar and just as dry. Unappealing brown color, with a mild coconut flavor. Not as noticable shortening flavor on this one. This was rated the favorite of 2, really bad by 2 others, and edible by everybody else.
Third was the Datrex bar. It was divided into 12 smaller individually wrapped pieces. Brown speckled in color--we thought they might be trying to trick our minds into thinking there was actually chocolate in it. It smelled SOOOO good! Like those coconut taffy type candies in the old days . . . however, the taste was nothing like the smell. It pretty much tasted like cardboard or sawdust packed together with a little shortening--extremely mild coconut flavor so you almost couldn't taste it. Again very dry--you'd definitely need water with any of these! This was rated the least favorite flavor overall, but still edible.
The general consensus was than any of the bars are edible, none were spit-it-out-nasty. If you were in survival mode, they'd sure be handy to supplement your other food, but I wouldn't want to have only an emergency food bar available! Chances are if you have purchased an "off the rack" 72 hour kit, your "food" is primarily Survival Food Bars--you might want to supplement with some other food. :) They aren't too expensive though, if you're looking at calories/$, so you might as well toss a couple in your supplies/72 hr kits/BOB's/car kits/etc.
I have no idea how long these are good for--I'm guessing they have a pretty long shelf life due to the moisture content and packaging. There are probably other brands out there as well, if I ever get ahold of one, I'll let you know if it's any good.
Another question that was raised was if you'd actually feel full eating these or if you'd get your calories, but still be hungry. I'll have to try one for lunch one of these days and see how long it takes to get hungry again . . . I'll keep you posted! In the meantime, the real winner hands down of the taste test was Megan's No Bake Cookies (far left in the following picture)! WAAAYYY better than any of the survival bars. Thanks Megan!Feel free to ask any questions about these that I didn't answer in this post. I'll be re-vacuum-packing these with my Foodsaver and tossing them in our emergency kits. Still have at least 2000 calories left of each after the taste test. :)