Soylent begins shipping its $2 nutritional bars

Interested in a lactose-free, animal-free, nut-free nutritional bar made with soy protein, algal flour, and some sort of sugar made from beets? If that sounds delicious to you (???), then you’ll be glad to hear that the Soylent bar is now shipping. The latest in the growing lineup of meal replacement products from the Andreessen Horowitz-backed startup aiming to change the way people eat, the Soylent bar is a 250-calorie snack bar that can also serve as a light meal.

The bar’s arrival was previously announced, at an estimated $2 per bar. Today, the company confirms that the bar – Soylent’s first edible (not drinkable) item – will be priced at $22.80 for Soylent subscribers or $24 for single orders per a 12-count box.

As for the product itself, the bar’s macronutrient breakdown involves 38 percent of its calories coming from lipids, 43 percent calories from carbohydrates, and 19 percent calories from protein in each bar, the company says in a brief announcement. This equates to one-eighth of an average adult’s recommended dietary needs.

Soylent will also be donating $0.25 (one meal) to the World Food Program USA for every box of bars it sells, with the goal of providing one million meals to those in need by the end of 2016.

The company already sells a number of other products, including its powder, its ready-to-drink Solyent 2.0, and it just recently debuted its latest invention, Coffiest, which replaces your morning coffee with plant-based nutrition combined with caffeine.

Designed to appeal to those looking for more convenient ways to eat while still receiving balanced nutrition – something that not all diet bars and protein bars can claim – Soylent has been somewhat controversial. That’s not only because its name was snagged from the dystopian film about people eating people, but also because its products were perhaps over-hyped at launch as the “end of food” and other cloying accolades before it even proved the market. (Founder Rob Rhinehart is controversial himself, too, with his abandoned “eco-living experiment”causing him to face criminal charges.)

Meanwhile, Soylent’s products have mixed reviews, ranging from “shut up and take my money,” to “tastes bad and doesn’t care” and even a “punishingly boring, joyless…” While there are certainly some Soylent devotees – the company has shipped over 25 million meals since May 2014 –  I can’t personally bear it after my belated initial experimentation last year. That said, the company has continued to iterate on its formulas over time, so the bar may not be as bad as its predecessors in the taste department.