Many variety syrups — and brown rice syrup in particular — first earned their place in bakery inventories as ingredients for granola bars. But why?

Granola, nutrition and sports bars may be made by two different methods: baked or cold-formed.

“You can use any type of sweetener for the baked bars because the oven drives off excess moisture and stabilizes the product,” said Jim Morano, Ph.D., principal scientist, Suzanne’s Specialties, New Brunswick, N.J. “But cold-formed bars need a glue to stick their grains, nuts and fruits together. Brown rice syrup acts as that glue.”

Bars need to hold their shape during packaging, distribution and consumption yet not be too fragile, too chewy or too hard when eaten.

“Syrups too low in dextrose equivalent (DE) make bars very chewy while those with high DE result in bars that are too wet and fall apart, unable to hold their shape,” Dr. Morano explained. “You have to have enough higher saccharides to hold the bar components together but not so much as would give excessive chewiness. That said, some people like a chewier bar, and those use low-DE syrups.”