Monday, July 28, 2008

Buffalo Bills Venison Jerky

Buffalo Bills Venison JerkyBuffalo Bills is a brand of jerky that has been around since 1990, having first launched with its Hickory Smoked Beef Jerky. It's owned by Choo Choo R Snacks, Inc., based out of Lebanon, PA.

This venison jerky is the company's only non-beef jerky. It's actually a chopped & formed product, as opposed to a "whole muscle" variety. Chopped & formed is a cheaper way to produce jerky, and is something you still see with most exotic meat jerky.

One of the reasons why is because the USDA requires a processing plant to have an "exotic seal" if a product is made with 100% exotic meat. Therefore, manufacturers mix their venison meat with about 10-20% beef to escape that additional requirement. And the only way to mix in beef, is to grind it up.

Interestingly, this Buffalo Bills brand of venison jerky was the first chopped & formed jerky to use 100% venison (no beef fillers).

But I'm also guessing that companies make chopped & formed jerky because it allows them to use smaller pieces of meat, or scrap meat. However, whole muscle venison jerky often comes out as being tough, so there's also an advantage to making it chopped & formed.


Venison, soy sauce, seasonings (dextrose, salt, corn syrup solids, onion & garlic, hydrolized soy protein, monosodium glutamate, spices, smoked flavor), spices.


I'd say the first taste that presents itself is a saltiness, which transforms itself into the soy sauce taste. I can also get a good deal of smokiness. There's also a fatty taste that comes through, something that is physically evident from the greasiness of these strips. Finally, the natural meat flavors become evident.

And as for the natural meat flavor, does this actually taste like venison? Well, yes but read on. Venison should have a sweeter taste than beef mainly due to deer muscle having a higher concentration of blood. I'd say that I can vaguely sense a sweetness in the meat. And because of that higher concentration of blood, the meat should feel more smooth, similar to a blending of liver and meat. But I can't really sense that in this jerky, mainly because it's chopped.

On the other hand, there is indeed a venison-like taste to this overall. I find I can get the most venison taste from this by biting off a piece, and letting it soften up in my mouth for about 30 seconds, and then chewing. This moistens up the piece, and allows the flavors to leach out.

The saltiness in this is well pronounced. For the most part, it's what I taste. The salt does subside as I continue chewing, but since this is a chopped jerky, I don't need to chew for very long.

I can also sense a faint bit of black pepper and garlic.

Overall, this jerky has a decent taste. It's mostly salt and some soy sauce that I taste the most. The unique taste of venison is noticeable, though because it's chopped & formed, I don't really sense any of its unique smoothness.

Meat Consistency

This is a chopped & formed jerky, pressed into strips of about 7 inches in length.

It's a semi-moist jerky, and somewhat oily. It's moderately easy to bite off a piece, and easy to chew.

Here and there I can feel tiny pieces of hard stuff, bone perhaps. Some of it was crunchy, more like cartilage. It's small enough that I can swallow them. I pulled one out of my mouth and looked at it, and it had pieces of tendon attached.

I assume the oiliness is due to fat being mixed into this chopping and grinding process. I can certainly taste the fat, and can feel its coating inside my mouth.

Overall, it's easy to eat. The tiny bits of hard stuff (bone) is not unusual with chopped & formed jerky. But it illustrates the quality (or low quality) of meat used in this.

Buffalo Bills Venison Jerky

Buffalo Bills Venison Jerky

Product Value

Choo Choo R Snacks sells this jerky at a price of $16.99 for a 10oz package. That works out to $1.70 per ounce, making this an average priced jerky.

For venison jerky, $1.70 per ounce is cheap. In that sense it's a great buy. But considering you're not getting whole muscle, the price is actually on the high end for chopped & formed jerky.

But let's consider that the only reason why you'd buy venison jerky is because you want to enjoy the unique taste of venison. In that sense, I find this to be a "so-so" value at best. While I can taste the unique venison taste, the chopped & formed nature doesn't really let me enjoy all the qualities of venison. It's mostly a salty meat taste.

However, this still has a snackability to it, and therefore still offers something for your snacking dollar.


Buffalo Bills Venison JerkyI'm giving this an average rating.

This chopped & formed jerky from Buffalo Bills offers a taste of venison with a great snackability that's does well to keep your mouth working while you're watching a movie, typing away, or gazing at stars by a campfire.

But it didn't get a higher rating because I didn't find this to present enough of venison's unique qualities. That is, the only reason why someone would buy venison jerky is to taste everything that makes it different from beef. While it does offer a venison taste, I just didn't feel it went all the way. I didn't really get any of that sweeter taste, and because it was chopped, I couldn't sense its smoother texture.

I think part of the problem is the saltiness; it could be overshadowing the venison flavors.

Also, it's hard for me to know how much of this is muscle, and how much is tendon, gristle, bone, fat, and whatever else. There does seem to be quite a bit of fat in this, and that might also compete against the meat flavors.

And the tiny bits of "hard stuff", such as bone, and crunchy cartilage, I found to be a turn off. I know that's common with chopped & formed jerky, but as such, puts this right in the ballpark with average.

Still, I find myself wanting to reach for another piece, which I feel is an important aspect of snack foods, which jerky is. And snackability is largely what this jerky offers.

Rating: Average

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