A PayDay bar is a popular candy bar made by The Hershey Company. It consists of salted peanuts rolled over a nougat center and covered with caramel and milk chocolate. With its sweet and salty taste, PayDay bars have been enjoyed by many for decades. But with growing concerns over nutrition and calories, some may wonder just how many calories are packed into one of these tasty treats. In this comprehensive guide, we will analyze the calorie and nutrient content of a standard “king size” or “big” PayDay bar.
Calories in a Big PayDay Bar
According to the nutrition facts label printed on the PayDay bar packaging, one king size bar (63g) contains:
- 280 calories
- 140 calories from fat
So a full-size PayDay bar clocks in at 280 total calories, with half those calories (140) coming from fat.
To put this calorie count into perspective, here are some comparisons:
- A regular Hershey’s milk chocolate bar (43g) has 220 calories. So a PayDay bar has about 60 more calories.
- A Snickers bar (56g) has 280 calories. So a PayDay bar has an equal number of calories as a Snickers.
- A single-size PayDay bar (32g) has 150 calories. So a king size bar has nearly twice as many calories as the smaller size.
The 280 calories in one big PayDay bar accounts for about 14% of a 2,000 calorie daily diet.
So while the PayDay bar is certainly a sweet treat, one bar does pack a caloric punch.
Nutritional Breakdown of a Big PayDay Bar
Now let’s take a closer look at the full nutritional profile of a king size PayDay bar:
|Nutrient||Amount||% Daily Value|
As we can see, one PayDay bar provides:
- 15g or 23% of fat daily value – Mostly from the chocolate, caramel and peanuts
- 7g or 35% of saturated fat daily value – Primarily from the chocolate
- 36g or 14% of carbohydrate daily value – Mainly from the nougat and caramel
- 27g sugar – Added sugar from the chocolate, caramel and nougat
- 230mg or 10% of sodium daily value – Largely from the salted peanuts and caramel
- Minimal fiber, protein and vitamins/minerals
So while the PayDay bar provides some nutritious peanut protein and minimal amounts of iron and magnesium, the majority of its calories come from fats and added sugars.
PayDay Bar Ingredients
Now let’s take a detailed look at the ingredients in a PayDay bar:
PayDay bars start with a base of roasted peanuts, which supply protein, healthy fats and a nutty, salty crunch. Peanuts contain 7g of protein per serving, as well as magnesium, phosphorus, B vitamins and beneficial monounsaturated fats. However, the salted peanuts in a PayDay also contribute to its high sodium content.
The nougat center of the PayDay bar is coated in a layer of sweet, buttery caramel. Caramel is made from butter, sugar or corn syrup cooked to a golden brown color. The caramel in a PayDay bar provides sweetness, moisture and tenderness, but also significantly increases the candy’s calorie, fat and sugar content.
PayDay bars are coated in a layer of milk chocolate, which gives them their characteristic chocolatey flavor and texture. Milk chocolate contains cocoa solids, cocoa butter, milk solids and sugar. It supplies calories mainly from sugar and saturated fat from the cocoa butter. The milk chocolate coating accounts for much of a PayDay bar’s saturated fat, calories and minerals like calcium.
The creamy nougat center of a PayDay bar helps give it a chewy, taffy-like texture. Nougat is made by whipping egg whites and sugar into a fluffy mixture. Corn syrup is often added as well. The nougat adds sweetness and balances the texture of the peanuts and caramel. But it also substantially increases the candy’s calorie and sugar content.
In addition to cocoa butter, palm oil is used in PayDay bars to help create the smooth, creamy mouthfeel of the caramel and chocolate. As a saturated plant oil, palm oil does contribute additional calories and saturated fat. But it has less saturated fat than cocoa butter.
The soy-based emulsifier lecithin is likely used in small amounts in PayDay bars to help blend the ingredients smoothly. Lecithin has negligible impacts on nutritional value.
How PayDay Bars Are Made
Now that we know what’s in a PayDay bar, let’s look briefly at how they’re manufactured:
- Peanuts are roasted and salted.
- The nougat base is prepared by whipping sugars, corn syrup and egg whites.
- The nougat is spread onto a sheet and coated with caramel.
- The peanuts are added on top of the caramel layer and pressed in.
- The large slab is cut into smaller bars.
- The bars are enrobed in melted chocolate then cooled in a cooling tunnel.
- Bars are wrapped individually and packaged.
So while the ingredients are relatively simple, candy bars like PayDay do require complex manufacturing processes to achieve their unique taste, texture and appearance.
PayDay Nutrition Facts Panel
For reference, here is an image of the complete nutrition facts panel from a King Size PayDay candy bar:
This panel provides full verified details on the calories, nutrients and ingredients in a standard big PayDay bar. Food manufacturers are required to provide accurate nutrition labeling on all packaged foods.
Health Impact of PayDay Bars
Now that we understand the calorie content and nutrients in a PayDay bar, what does this mean for health? Here is a summary of the potential health implications:
High in Calories
At 280 calories per bar, a PayDay is a high calorie, energy-dense food. It provides nearly 15% of calorie needs in a small serving with minimal nutrients. Consuming them regularly can make it difficult to maintain a healthy weight.
High in Sugar
With 27g of sugar in each bar, PayDays also contain a lot of added sugar, which provides empty calories and no nutritional benefit. Too much sugar is linked to increased risks of diabetes, heart disease and fatty liver disease.
High in Saturated Fat
PayDay bars are high in saturated fat (7g per bar), which raises LDL “bad” cholesterol levels in the blood. High LDL is linked to increased risk of cardiovascular disease.
High in Sodium
The 230mg of sodium in each bar accounts for 10% of the daily limit for Americans. High sodium intake is associated with higher blood pressure, which also increases risks of heart disease and stroke.
Minimal Fiber, Protein or Micronutrients
While PayDays provide a small amount of protein from the peanuts, they lack beneficial fiber, vitamins or minerals that are found in more nutrient-dense real foods.
The combination of sugar, refined carbs and fat provides little satiety or food satisfaction. This can lead to overeating calories.
Healthier Snacking Alternatives
To satisfy a sweet and salty craving in a more nutrition-conscious way, here are some healthier snacking alternatives to consider instead of a candy bar like PayDay:
Make your own trail mix from nuts, seeds, dried fruit, whole grain cereal and a drizzle of chocolate chips. This provides energy, protein and nutrients.
Fresh Fruit and Nuts
Pair fresh fruit like apple slices with unsalted nuts or peanut butter for fiber, vitamins and healthy fats.
Layer vanilla yogurt with berries and chopped nuts for a protein and calcium-rich sweet treat.
Look for a bar with at least 10g of protein and under 200 calories to help curb hunger and give an energy boost.
Snack Bag of Edamame
Steamed and lightly salted edamame beans make for a crunchy, savory snack rich in plant protein and vitamins.
Low-fat String Cheese
Part-skim mozzarella string cheese supplies protein, calcium and a salty flavor for just 60-80 calories per stick.
The Bottom Line
So in summary, a king size PayDay candy bar contains approximately:
- 280 calories
- 140 calories from fat
- 15g total fat
- 36g carbohydrates
- 27g sugar
- 7g protein
While PayDay bars provide a sweet and salty flavor, they are high in calories, fat, and added sugar, while being low in fiber and vitamins.
Consuming them regularly may negatively impact health over time. For a more nutritious option, choose whole food snacks like trail mixes, fresh fruit and nuts, yogurt, or edamame.
But an occasional PayDay bar eaten mindfully in moderation can be incorporated into an overall healthy diet for those who enjoy the taste. The key is controlling portions and limiting how often they are eaten.
When snacking on any candy or sweets, be sure to account for the extra calories by balancing them out with more exercise or lower calorie meals for the day. Also consider splitting king size bars in half to help control portions.
By understanding the detailed nutrition contents of snack foods like PayDay bars, we can enjoy sweet treats mindfully and in moderation while still meeting our health goals. Variety, balance and moderation are key principles for a nutritious diet.