The Untold Truth Of Nutty Bars

Nutty Bars, a nostalgic, chocolate and peanut butter after-school treat for many, have been around for us to indulge in for decades. Okay, they may not be the most nutritious snack out there, but surely they were definitely one of the most delicious. Released in 1964, the crunchy wafer bars layered with peanut butter creme and covered in fudge were one of the first multipack creations by Little Debbie snack company. They're still so beloved that they remain as one of the three top-selling Little Debbie varieties (per Little Debbie). Yet, how much do you really know about these indulgent little treats that have become one of the best Little Debbie snacks out there?

We at Mashed think it's time to take a deeper look into the history and scandals of these decadent treats and answer the questions we've all been asking ourselves. Where did they come from? Is it Nutty Bars or Nutty Buddy? How bad are they actually for you? Is the half-eaten box in the back of my cupboard still fresh? And what is it that makes these things so dang delicious?

They were first invented in 1959

Despite making their way into our shopping carts in 1964, Nutty Bars were actually first invented and sold five years earlier (per Little Debbie). They were created two years after a modern plant was built in Collegedale, Tennessee for the original McKee family, shortly after their purchase of King's Bakery. In order to keep up with production demand, an all-new line of snack cakes and pies was developed. This move would help to usher in the beginning of the Little Debbie brand as we know it today. 

Thus, the bars were created in 1959, just a year before the Little Debbie brand officially made its way on shelves as individually packed treats in 1960. The packaging and distribution for the bars under the brand wouldn't come about until 1964, alongside classic favorites such as Banana Twins, Swiss Rolls, Zebra Cakes, Raisin Creme Pies, and Oatmeal Creme Pies. Many treats followed in the years after, but, for many across the nation and beyond, it's a simple truth that the Nutty Bar has remained a staple for the brand ever since its debut.

Nutty Buddy bars went through a rather quiet name change

So, is it Nutty Bars or Nutty Buddy? Well, we finally have the answer: both. Originally Nutty Bars, the treat went through a mysterious name change to Nutty Buddy somewhere around 2016. A comic released in November of that year by the company made it all the more confusing for fans, who weren't quite sure what it meant, at least when it came to the great nomenclature debate of Nutty Bars. Or, well, Nutty Buddy bars. One Reddit user shared the comic, stating, "this weird little comic on their website doesn't help either." 

The comic wasn't the only thing causing confusion, as fans were still finding the Nutty Bar name on the selves. Another Reddit user commented on the change stating, "I get my groceries delivered and ordered these last night. On the App they were called Nutty Bars. When they were delivered today they came as Nutty Buddy. So weird!!!" Is it the biggest mystery out there in the food world? Probably not, but it was clearly enough to truly rile some of the snack's fans.

One fan even went as far as to create a petition to change the name from Nutty Buddy back to Nutty Bars, bringing up the nostalgia behind the original name and the power to correct those who would mistakenly refer to "Nutty Buddy" bars. Perhaps it was a little dramatic, but the petition seemed well-intentioned and gained a whopping 99 supporters. 

Nutty Buddy bars are pretty bad for you

Not too shockingly, the sad truth of these treats is that Nutty Buddy bars just aren't all that healthy for you. That's not to say that you can't enjoy one every once in a while, but perhaps it shouldn't be a regular habit.

So, what's wrong with the treats? For one, they're extremely processed, contain multiple additives and plenty of fats and sugars. In fact, Nutty Buddy bars contain high amounts of sugar, saturated fats, trans fats, and the additives tertiary butylhydroquinone (TBHQ), soy lecithin, glycerides, and artificial flavors (per Is It Bad For You?). If overly indulged in, the sugar can spike your own blood sugar levels and, over the long term, can lead to issues with insulin resistance, obesity, and diabetes. Excessive amounts of saturated fats and trans fats can raise your cholesterol and can also cause heart disease long-term. TBHQ is added to the bars to protect the oils from going rancid and preserve color, but the substance has been sometimes linked to visual disturbances, liver enlargement, neurotoxic effects, convulsion, and paralysis. 

 If you're still a fan, don't worry just yet if they're an occasional treat. Nutty Buddy bars should probably be enjoyed every once in a while — just avoid eating the whole box in short order. For an idea of calories, one two-pack contains 470 calories, 60% of your daily value of saturated fat, and 64% of your daily value of added sugars (per Little Debbie Vending).

They were once recalled for containing metal particles

The bars went extra crunchy in 2007 when they were recalled in multiple states, due to an ingredient that possibly contained metal particles (per NBC News). The potentially contaminated Nutty Bars in question had been distributed into vending machines in Ohio, Illinois, Georgia, Maryland, North Carolina, and Virginia. After that distribution, the particles were caught during internal quality checks, according to Cleveland19 News. Despite few to no complaints from consumers, those who purchased the product received a full refund for their troubles after they contacted McKee Foods. 

Two years later, the company faced another looming crisis when the government advised consumers to avoid eating cookies, cakes, ice cream, and other foods containing peanut butter due to a potential link to a deadly salmonella outbreak, according to a 2009 article from Fox News. At the time, more than 470 people had gotten sick in 43 states, and at least 90 had to be hospitalized with six deaths resulting from the bacterial disease outbreak. McKee claimed to have received no complaints about illnesses. 

Multiple seasonal and themed Nutty Bars have been released

Lest you think it's same old, same old over in the snack aisle, you should know that Little Debbie keeps it fresh every year by releasing seasonal and themed versions of all our favorite snacks. Nutty Buddy hasn't missed out on the fun, either. Multiple versions of the bars have been released, with varieties like Back to School to Red, White and Blue to a pretty in pink Be My Valentine version. One fan favorite, the white and pastel green Spring Nutty Buddy, has even garnered a recipe for itself – Spring Nutty Buddy Mix, a treat the Little Debbie brand has deemed "bunny bait." 

At one point, Little Debbie brought together Nutty Bars and its famous Zebra Cakes for a mashup, releasing the Zebra Plus Nutty Bars. The new treats always put a fun spin on the classic bar and two of them are still available today. North Pole Nutty Buddy and Spring Nutty Buddy nearly always make their way to shelves when their season hits for fans to be able to enjoy in their favorite moments. 

Nutty Buddy Bars have a surprisingly long shelf life

One great thing about Nutty Buddy bars is that they last forever. Okay, maybe not strictly forever like some foods might, at least when it comes to food safety standards, but they can stick around for a longer period of time than many of our other favorite treats. According to The Daily Meal, the delicious peanut butter treat is guaranteed fresh for 60 days or as long as six months when they've been frozen, along with some other snack bars. So, that box that has been chilling in the back of your cupboard for almost two months is still a-okay, but don't wait for much longer than that to enjoy them. The bars will, of course, make a delicious frozen snack, so why not keep them frozen for a bit longer? We're sure you'll thank yourself later. 

Nutty Buddy bars, despite not being the best sort of treat for your day-to-day diet, are one snack we all can enjoy while reminiscing about the good ol' days. And, through everything, they've remained a Little Debbie staple since the beginning. So, next time you're at the grocery store, pick yourself up a box and enjoy. Don't worry, we won't tell.