Saturday, August 2, 2008

Trader Joe's Turkey Jerky - Teriyaki

Trader Joe's Turkey Jerky - TeriyakiTrader Joe's is a chain of specialty grocery stores across the United States, focusing on the ecclectic, mostly obscure brands of foods, natural foods, and the basic staples.

In the 1950s the company started out as a chain of convenience stores throughout Southern California, and then as the hippie movement took off in the 60s, the company reinvented itself into what you see now. Throughout the 70s, 80s, and 90s, Trader Joe's achieved cult-like status across all of California, and then in 1997 the company went national with several stores on the east coast.

Today, it's still the hippies that shop at the Trader Joe's stores in California, but they're more like baby-boomers now, with shorter hair, and they don't hold up peace signs anymore. The store has actually done pretty well transcending into the younger age groups by aligning itself with the natural foods movement, and keeping prices cheap.

Trader Joe's offers its own brand of beef jerky and turkey jerky, but like most grocery stores, it's private labeled through another company, in this case, Intermountain Natural, LLC of Idaho Falls, ID, a meat processor that specializes in natural ingredients and organic meat products. They make jerky for the Golden Valley Natural brand, and the Jerky Direct brand, as well.

It's worth noting that this Trader Joe's turkey jerky is not advertised as organic despite the popular belief, and does not carry the USDA organic seal. Rather it's marked as "natural", which they explain as having no artificial ingredients, is minimally processed, and contains no preservatives, no nitrite, and no MSG.


Turkey, sugar, water, soy sauce, pineapple juice concentrate, apple cider vinegar, salt, flavorings, paprika, natural smoke flavoring, caramel color.


There is a salty-sweet taste combination that first hits my mouth when I pop in a piece. I can also get a taste of the natural meat flavors. I don't taste much else after that.

The teriyaki flavor in this is rather weak, I'm not really sure I taste any teriyaki at all. There is a light sweetness to this, and I can kinda sense a bit of the soy sauce, but the two don't really marry each other into teriyaki. It's more of a sweet taste than anything else.

However, the sweet doesn't last throughout the chew. After a few chews, the natural turkey meat flavors come on, and that's what I'm left with by the time I've swallowed it down. The natural turkey meat flavor is not strong, but perhaps moderate at best. Compared to Trader Joe's beef jerky varieties that I've had thus far, the turkey jerky provides more natural meat flavor.

That salty flavor that I described earlier is also very light.

I can also see tiny bits of black pepper on this, and I do get a faint sense of it in the back of my mouth, but only having eaten several pieces.

Overall, this teriyaki turkey jerky has a decent taste, though a light taste, and mostly as a sweet variety, not necessarily teriyaki. The taste that seems to dominate throughout the chew is the natural turkey meat flavor, but again, a light flavor.

Meat Consistency

This appears to be cuts of real turkey meat, sliced in medium to thick thickness, and in small to medium sized pieces. Note that there is a good amount of crumbled pieces in the bottom of the bag.

This jerky is dry, unlike the brand's beef counterpart, but rather easy to tear apart and chew. This stuff breaks apart more easily than beef, just like turkey jerky normally does.

I did find one piece with what appears to be a streak of cartilage, but a thin streak, and one that offered no resistance. Otherwise, everything else appeared to be free of anything chewy.

Overall, the meat consistency is great.

Trader Joe's Turkey Jerky - Teriyaki

Trader Joe's Turkey Jerky - Teriyaki

Product Value

I paid $4.99 for this 4oz bag at a Trader Joe's in Temecula, CA. That works out to $1.25 per oz, putting this in the lower end of average priced.

I'd say that gives this jerky a good value. As a turkey jerky it does a good job of retaining its natural meat flavor, and offers a great meat consistency. While it is rather light on taste, the price of $1.25 per oz still makes this a worthy buy.

But as a teriyaki turkey jerky, it fails. I don't really taste the teriyaki in this, but rather just a light sweetness. If you can ignore the teriyaki advertisement on the package, then you might appreciate it more for what it is.


I'm giving this an average rating.

The light sweet taste, the subtle black pepper aftertaste, the natural meat flavors, and the excellent meat consistency all contribute to make this an enjoyable turkey jerky. While you won't get a turkey jerky that bursts with flavor, you'll get something that does taste like turkey.

I couldn't give this a higher rating because it fails to live up to its teriyaki billing, and it's rather light on taste. I think a jerky should excite taste buds, and this comes off as a tad bland. Had they simply marked this as "sweet turkey", and added some more black pepper, I could give this a good rating. If they could also throw in an extra taste dimension, either more garlic, or ginger, or rosemary, I could give it a best rating.

Still, of all the jerky produced by Intermountain Natural, this is the best one yet.

Rating: Average

Where to buy?:
  • At any Trader Joe's store


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