So today I decided to start trying some of the Hammer nutrition. Hammer is sponsoring the nutrition at the aid stations for the Leadman. When a company sponsors the nutrition, it means that you can travel lighter and just plan to pick up food at the aid stations. If you don't like their food, though, you are better off carrying your own.
This is usually a problem because you end up stuffing your jersey pockets, and on a tri jersey, this pulls an already tight garment even tighter, and threatens to expose unflattering views of your squishy middle.
I have been lucky in food sponsors so far. Clif sponsors the Nation's Tri, and I love Clif, so that is basically a rolling buffet. All I ever carry for Nation's is a single pack of Margarita Shot Blox because they don't always have my favorite flavor.
The Cottage Grove Century was sponsored by the Cottage Grove Rotary, so not knowing what they'd have, I jammed my bento box and seat pack and jersey full of Clif and Honey Stinger (my two favorite on-bike foods ever), and then discovered they had the best aid stations in the world. Bowls of trail mix with cereal and M&Ms and nuts. Bananas. Sandwiches. And pie! In fact, when I had my unfortunate crash, as the paramedics were strapping me in and rolling me away to go to the hospital for X-rays, the Rotary was wrapping up pie for me and M. It was delicious.
Leadman is sponsored by Hammer. Since I wasn't all that familiar with it, I bought a few options to taste test.
When taste-testing nutrition, it is advisable to try new things first in a controlled setting, in case it upsets your stomach. Then you can get to the facilities in an expeditious manner to expel offending manner. (See what I did there? I used big words to explain the process of what happens when you eat energy food your body doesn't like. You're welcome, internets.)
So I took Hammer stuff to work today.
I started off with the Hammer energy bar, a gluten-free, vegetarian bar made with stuff like cashews and dark chocolate and quinoa- all stuff I really like. The bar was really sticky and hard to get out of the package. I prefer energy food that takes very little brain power, and I don't like to get sticky. Hmm. But once it was open... it was pleasantly chewy without sticking to my teeth. I would have preferred stronger flavors, but it was perfectly fine, I guess.
Verdict: Not nearly as good as a Picky Bar, but if someone handed me this on the course, I'll eat it.
Hammer Heed. This is the Hammer version of Gatorade. This made for a sad hour of taste-testing. The flavor of lemonlime Heed tastes just like feet. I don't actually know what feet taste like, but I suspect that if I took day-old dishwater and soaked my feet in it for an hour, it would taste just like this. I consider it a victory of an endurance event in itself that I choked down an entire sample packet of this.
Verdict: So disgusting that I have decided to make small baggies of Gatorade and refill my own bottles on course. The only part that worries me is what to do on the run. Do I carry my Amphipods?
The reason why this is so important: I have a hard time remembering to drink enough, and I usually have to force myself to keep drinking. So I really need something that really tastes good to encourage me to drink enough. Not only does Heed not encourage me to drink more, I have to force myself to drink at all, usually while gagging. Total fail for a big event.
Hammer Perpetum chewable energy. As I opened this product, I was greeted with a sicky-sweet waft of something that smelled like bath bubbles. I shook out a large table the size of two or three Tums stacked together. I bit off half of the tablet, and began to chew. (reaction to tablet edited for innocent internet eyes. But it was not good.) The flavor and consistency is pretty much exactly like musty cardboard.
Verdict: Finally, Powerbar is back in my food graces. Perpetuum has taken the top of the podium for my least favorite thing to consume in the history of the entire universe. In fact, I am pretty sure that if I go to Purgatory, I will be fed Perpetuum tablets. Oh, my, Hammer, I want to be nice and kind, but this stuff is an abomination. It was so bad, I ran to the kitchen and grabbed this off-brand, stale sandwich cookie out of our emergency coffee hour supply just to get the taste out of my mouth. Gack, gack, gack.
Is redemption possible for Hammer?
Well, Hammer makes Endurolytes in a tablet form, which I tried as well. There are no leg cramps or bloating, so score one for them. I've been drinking the Fizz tablets for ages and like those just fine, because they DO have flavor. But I won't be drinking any Fizz or carbonation at altitude. And I also have a few other bars and some gels to try out.
It is possible I may find some redeeming qualities of Hammer and a few types of stuff that I like enough to eat, but all in all...
Hammer is a distant fourth to other foods I've tried.
Picky Bar makes much tastier and better packaged bars that aren't sticky. Plus, they have a cute motto. ("It's freakin' science, dude.")
Clif Bar probably tops the pyramid as having the most options of extremely tasty stuff.
Honey Stinger is hot on the heels of Clif Bar.
Gatorade still makes the only sports drink I've tried that I am happy to keep drinking.