I have a slight weakness for Atkins bars but they only have 2 net carbs and 1 gram of sugar. (The other ones, the powerbar-type ones have too much sugar for me (usually 20g) and thus give me a sugar high and crash). Not very paleo but it does the trick at times in place of my typical mid-morning or mid-afternoon snack of a protein soy shake or peanut butter dollop. Does your philosophy exclude such bars?
Sometimes I cut my steak into oblong shapes. Does that count as a protein bar?
So, in a word: no. That sort of stuff weirds me out...if I can't make it in my kitchen, I'm not gonna eat it.
I'm sure all of us are already getting more than enough protein, so it's pointless at best but likely toxic once you cross the useful threshold. Probably better for you to eat a stick a butter (srsly).
I have made it a point to not eat food that I do not make, or could not make. So, I would not consume them. It would kind of depend on where you fall on the spectrum of optimal nutrition (no processed foods) vs. Weight-loss (limiting sugar, etc.)
I'd go with some tineed sardines, beef jerky, hard boild eggs, etc...
I don't eat food bars nor do I give them to my kids for the following reasons:
There are always questionable ingredients in them: soy, weird proteins that may not be good quality, artificial sweetners, too much sugars, sugar alchohols, nuts (allergic).
Never the perfect ratios of protein, fat, carbs. Usually too many carbs. The ones that are right in carbs - see above!
Real food is just better
Homemade jerky is much better than any bar on the market.
No, I avoid all processed foods regardless of their origins. This is not because I am a "paleo" pedantic, I just find avoidance of such foods makes life a lot simpler. "Oh gee, is this or that ingredient paleo?" makes for way too much strife. If I make it or cook it, I know the food is "safe." (I especially save time by not reading food labels.)
Simplistically: If I don't make it, I don't eat it.
I like Mark Sisson's idea of 80/20 -- I try to eat right 100% of the time, but I sometimes just want a quick and tasty Atkins bar (their chocolate hazelnut bar is, for me, better than a Snickers!) So I consider an Atkins bar as falling into the permissible 20% quota. When I do eat them, it's for breakfast, too. I might eat them after a workout, too.
http://www.atkins.com/Products/ProductDetail49/Chocolate-Hazelnut-Bar.aspx is the bar I love. 1 gram of sugar, 4 carbs, 180 calories, 14 grams of fat and 6 grams of protein (admittedly, not a lot).
Making your own beef jerky (at temperatures below 115 degrees a la Lex Rooker style) is so worth it and much cheaper. I have to agree with you though, pre made protein bars are tasty, relatively cheap and efficient, but to answer your question- No i dont eat them.
Are you sure that the Atkins bars are gluten free? I believe that they are often sweetened with maltodextrin, which is a hydrolysed starch commonly derived from wheat. Equally, isn't the protein used soy protein?
You could probably experiment with making your own Paleo-ish protein bars; use whey protein powder bulked up with nuts and/or a gluten-free starch like air-puffed rice/quinoa or gluten-free certified oats and bound together with dark chocolate or coconut oil (if the ambient temperature of where you live is cold enough for it to stay solid).
If you have the stomach for it, you might consider buying or making some pemmican.
Edit: If you can find it, South African biltong also makes a good beef jerky alternative. If you're very adventurous, take a trip to your local Asian market and stock up on some dried seafood. Dried chilli squid rings; long-life Paleo fuel or nightmare fuel? ;)
I keep bar type foods on hand for "emergencies". I know most Paleo answers to food emergencies are to fast, but that doesn't work for me. If I get over hungry I have a tendency to binge.
The bars I prefer are Lara Bars and Mrs. Mays and Kind bars. I know they are sugar bombs, but they are gluten free, mostly nuts, dried fruits and honey. I probably only eat them once a month or so. Usually when I manage to forget my pre-made food at home.