UPDATE: Since originally writing this post on Bowmar Nutrition, I’ve received additional information, pointing to proof that changes to the formulas were in fact made. You can read that post here.
I’m going to start this off by saying that I’m not writing this or posting this to degrade or slander anyone or any company. I’ve been a fan of Bowmar Nutrition since my wife, my girlfriend at the time, introduced me to them. At the time they only had a handful of protein flavors, their Greens, and their Collagen Peptides. Between the texture and the flavor, I immediately fell in love. That winter I practically had a hot protein hot chocolate every night. My immediate love resulted in buying practically everything they offered. New flavor being released at noon on a Friday? I was there, ready to go!
Then about a year ago, we ordered a new tub, our third, of Protein Hot Chocolate. This time, things were obviously different. The flavor was off and weaker than it had been before. The texture wasn’t exactly the same. There was zero doubt this differed from before.
This time it was Frosted Sugar Cookie. I’ve written before about how I’ve used Bowmar protein in cooking, and this was where the first actual signs started showing. I used Frosted Sugar Cookie protein in making some Chocolate Chip Peanut Butter Protein Cookies. Some of the best cookies I’ve ever made! The unequivocal key ingredient in these cookies was the Bowmar Nutrition protein. It was essential to get that perfect balance of taste with the sweetness and have the peanut butter stand out. The flavor of these cookies was so exact every time that it now was essentially highlighted by the new aftertaste that accompanied them. Again, I’m a reasonable man, so I tried another batch, the same result. So, I went directly to the protein. The same protein I fell in love with. The same protein I used as an ingredient in baking and as a creamer in my coffee. The protein I had before me in a 5lb tub was not the same protein. Different flavor, different texture, and almost a metallic aftertaste. Clearly, things had changed. However, I’m a reasonable person. I understand in mass manufacturing things can go awry. A bad batch. A mishap in processing. It’s all possible. So, I wrote it off as a one-time thing. When it came to ordering again, I didn’t hesitate. That’s when I knew something was truly different.
A quick search online revealed I wasn’t the only one that was noticing the difference. People were echoing the same sentiments I had. That something must have changed. That the formula was different. So clearly, if it was obvious to so many, Bowmar themselves must have changed something and I had simply just overlooked the announcement.
Unfortunately, it was the opposite. When confronted with the changes and that things seemed clearly different to a growing margin, Sarah Bowmar shut down the haters on her social media, saying that absolutely nothing had changed.
Going to their website, at first glance everyone loves it, and nothing is amiss. Protein Hot Chocolate is boasting 5 stars based on 1063 reviews at the time of this writing. However, a little investigating shows a few 3- and 4-star reviews, including ones that reference a change in the product. One review stated:
Love love love this protein but definitely noticed a change in the formula. Different color and MUCH sweeter. Hoping it goes back to the old formula
With another one essentially voicing my own feelings:
We have been diehard fans of Bowman protein and have spent thousands of dollars over the past year. We normally order the blueberry and hot chocolate. The last batch we ordered in June was off. I’m not sure if you switched manufacturers, but the taste, color, and texture is way different. The taste is more muted and fake tasting, the color for both the blueberry and hot chocolate is lighter and the texture is more fine. This is something we drink multiple times per day, so we totally noticed the difference. I hope it’s a fluke, because till this order – we loved the protein.
Further searching and research lead to their profile on the Better Business Bureau website. They currently sit with a B+ score with an average customer rating of 3 stars. They’ve had 28 complaints closed in the last 3 years; 21 of those being closed in the last 12 months.
Reading through the reviews here shows the same. People talking about how they loved them before, but that the formulas and products themselves have clearly changed, and that quality and customer service have been on a decline.
One review stated:
I have followed the Bowmar’s and their products since the launch of PHC and really do like their products but there has been a lot of changes I’ve noticed. I don’t know who is doing their testing of batches, but it needs improvement. I work at a company that makes Ice Cream and I know how the testing and tastings work and we’d never send out a product that didn’t meet our company standards, we want to provide the best for our customers. Some of the protein has started to taste different, chalky and does not mix well and clumps up quite frequently. They ignore any questions related to these inquiries or delete it. Also, their Customer Service, or lack thereof is pushing me from not wanting to buy as well. Sarah is very rude when you ask a legitimate question inquiring on product information etc. She is very snarky and makes fun of her customers and their questions quite often. I think they should expand in their customer service and quality assurance before losing more people, I’ve ready many dissatisfied reviews recently.
Another review was more positive, but with a glaring statement:
The only reason I cannot give a 5 star review is because of the reviews on their website. I have posted multiple reviews both good and bad, and have noticed anything not good doesn’t get posted. I find that to be a dishonest practice.
Seriously? Deleting or not posting negative reviews on their site to influence the ratings? Would the business I had truly grown to be a huge fan and proponent of, stoop to something like that?
I decided to see for myself. I posted back-to-back reviews. One on the Protein Bars, the other on Protein Frosted Cookie. Both products I’ve previously purchased, and both reviews were honest and not disingenuous. I stand by both. On the protein bars, I gave a glowing 5-star review. I bought some samples of the Coffee Cake Protein Bar recently and truly enjoyed them. Then I posted on Frosted Cookie, giving it a 2-star review.
After posting, neither review was immediately viewable. So clearly, they have a system where they vent and approve reviews. There had been no new reviews posted in a few days, so I felt I’d give them a few and check back. When I did, it disappointed me in what I saw, which was a confirmation of what others had claimed. My positive 5-star review was there on the site, praising the protein bars with a handful of other newly posted reviews. My 2-star review; nowhere to be seen, while a new 5-star review had been posted.
While I never trust any star reviews, positive or negative, at first sight, it’s clear that the reviews on Bowmar’s website are manipulated for their own benefit and not 100% genuine, despite their claims to the contrary.
So, what happened? What’s happened to the company and products I adored a year ago?
It’s unclear. Both Josh and Sarah have never admitted to any changes, they just simply continue to push out more new products.
And I think there is the first problem: they’re overreaching.
They continue to push out more and more flavors, and more and more products including Protein Bars, Protein Puffs, Pre-Workouts, and more. I’m only guessing and speculating here, but I feel like its possible that what’s happened is that production costs have increased as they’ve added more products, and rather than cut back on products, or shift prices to cover the cost, they found cost-cutting measures which have ultimately hurt the product. This just feels like it’s something beyond a simple lack of quality control.
That doesn’t excuse the poor customer service or the manipulation of their reviews. I will not sit and judge anyone’s integrity, but the evidence is piling up, and it has me looking at them in a different light. And I’m not the only one. There is now a Sarah Bowmar subreddit where people are sharing their stories and interactions with Sarah on social media.
My one regret is I wish I still had that original tub of Protein Hot Chocolate, just to compare the labels and see if they have changed anything on the label because there’s zero doubt that some things have changed in the formula. (UPDATE: I received photos of the original tub’s label, which pointed to the formula in fact be altered. You can read my latest Bowmar update here.)
Does this make their products bad? No. I’d still put them above some proteins I’ve had before, but compared to what I’ve had before with the Bowmar label, they don’t compare. If you’re a new Bowmar customer, you’ll never know the difference, you won’t know what you’re missing. As they say, ignorance is bliss. However, I’m unable to forget how amazing the products once were.
**I previously published This article on Geekasms.net