A Larabar is a date bar made by the Larabar company, and is certified kosher by the OU. There are multiple varieties, but each of them contains, as the primary ingredient, dates. The other ingredients, depending on the variety, are nuts, spices, and other fruits.
What is the bracha rishona? How many bars must be eaten before making a bracha achrona, and what should the bracha achrona be?
Process and Ingredients
Dates, along with the other ingredients, are mixed together and pressed into a dough. According to Larabar, the amount of date in a bar ranges from 40-70 percent, depending on the product. Even when date constitutes only 40 percent of the product it is the ingredient present in greatest proportion. The dates, besides giving flavor, also serve as a base for the bar.
What is the Bracha Rishona?
Although dates, when pressed into a dough, are not readily identifiable, at least visually, as dates, Shulchan Aruch (O.C. 202:7, and cited in Mishna Berurah, 202:42) nevertheless states that the appropriate bracha is Borei pri haetz (in many other cases, when a fruit, or food, loses its identity and is subsumed in a mass or dough, the appropriate bracha is shehakol (See Mishna Berura 202:42).
What is the Bracha Achrona?
One must eat a minimum of a kezayis of the date itself or in combination with other fruits of the shivas haminim (grapes, figs, olives, pomegranates) in order to make an “al ha’etz”. The size of a Larabar is 2.8 inches long, 1.3 inches wide, and .56 inches thick. This means that it is just over two cubic inches, or about 34 cubic centimeters (or 1.1 fluid ounces). According to Rav Chaim Nah, a kezayis is 27 cubic centimeters.
Therefore, even in a bar which contains 70 percent date, there is only about 23 cubic centimeters of dates. Even if the bar contains some raisins it is unlikely that there would be a kezayis of shivas haminim fruit. Therefore, an “al haetz” would be inappropriate after eating only one Larabar.
However, two Larabars definitely contain a kezayis of dates – even if dates were to make up only 40 percent of the bar and the bar contains no raisins.
After eating only one Larabar, the appropriate beracha is borei nefashos (see Mishna Berura 210:1). After eating two bars, the appropriate bracha is al haetz.
There may or may not be a kezayis of date after one and a half Larabars, and therefore unless one can tell that there is clearly a kezayis of dates and possibly raisins, the safest strategy is to either eat no more than one bar or to make sure to purchase at least two bars.