Saturday, September 27, 2008

Lowrey's Big Beef - Hickory Smoked

Lowrey's Big Beef - Hickory SmokedLowrey's is an old brand of beef jerky that goes back a ways (I'm not exactly sure how far it goes back). But it's a brand that has been bought and sold by a variety other businesses. Since 1995, it's been owned by the Oberto Sausage Company.

But before that it had been acquired by Beatrice Companies, that company that owned zillions of brands that made everything you can think of. In 1987, it spun off a holding company called "E-II Holdings Inc.", and dumped Lowrey's into it. In 1988, E-II was acquired by American Brands, Inc, which made cigarettes and liquor. Several months later, American Brands turned around and sold much of E-II's brands (including Lowrey's) to Riklis Family Corp, who owns the McCrory Stores, as well as the Faberge/Elizabeth Arden cosmetics, and the Samsonite luggage brand. Months later, Riklis sold Lowrey's to Curtice Burns Foods, which currently operates as Birds Eye Foods.

Curtice Burns owned and manufactured a full line of foods, and just so happened to acquire the Smokecraft brand of jerky only a year before acquiring Lowrey's. the company combined the two brands into a new meat snack division called "Curtice Burns Meat Snacks", based out of Denver, CO. Curtice Burns tried to make a serious go at the meat snack market, but because the company fell on hard times during the late 80s and early 90s, it sold several of its brands and child companies, including its meat snack division. In 1995, Oberto Sausage Company acquired Curtice Burns Meat Snacks. The acquisition doubled Oberto's jerky manufacturing capacity, and overnight made it the top jerky manufacturer in the USA.

If anyone can fill in the blanks of how and when Lowrey's got started, up to when it was acquired by Beatrice, please post a comment.

Ingredients

Beef, water, dextrose, flavorings, salt, hydrolized corn and soy protein, monosodium glutamate, natural hickory smoke flavor, sodium erythorbate, sodium nitrite.

Taste

The first taste I get from the surface is a "beefy" taste, along with a salty taste, and a very slight smoky flavor. Moving into the chew, it's largely the same tastes.

The "beefy" taste is not necessarily the natural meat flavors. It doesn't really taste anything like meat. Being a chopped & formed jerky, who really knows what this stuff is made out of anyways?

What this stuff taste like is a meat stick, except this stuff is pressed into a strip and doesn't have the thin membrane that encases a meat stick.

For being advertised as a hickory smoked variety, I don't really pick up much of a hickory smoke flavor. There is a smoky flavor to this, however, just not very well defined.

While the nutrition label shows a high amount of sodium, this stuff doesn't really come off tasting excessively salty.

For the most part, the dominant flavor in this is that "beefy" taste that I described, similar to the contents of a beef stick, with salt being the second taste.

Meat Consistency

This is a chopped & formed jerky, pressed into strips of about 1/2 inch wide and about 4-5 inches in length.

It's fairly soft and tender, perhaps being slightly more dry and stiff than an actual beef stick. It's easy to bite off a piece, and easy to chew.

The beef mixture seems fairly smooth, I don't really find any hard or chewy bits that one might find in other chopped & formed jerkies. But this jerky has a greasy touch which is pretty consistent with chopped & formed stuff.

Lowrey's Big Beef - Hickory Smoked

Lowrey's Big Beef - Hickory Smoked
Product Value

I paid $3.29 for this 4.16 ounce canister at an Albertson's grocery store in Menifee, CA. That works out to a price of $0.79 per ounce, putting this into the cheap range.

For general jerky snacking purposes, it presents a very good value. It has a decent taste, is very easy to eat, and offers some great snackability. The taste isn't anything to get excited about, but it at least doesn't taste bad.

As a hickory smoke flavored jerky, it's a weak value, even at this low price. I just don't pick up much hickory smoke flavor.

Rating

I'm giving this an average rating.

This hickory smoked variety of Lowrey's Big Beef primarily offers a good snacking experience with its ease of eating, smooth meat consistency, and a flavor that is neither great or awful. I find myself reaching for more and more, just because I like eating meat snacks, and found nothing in this that might discourage me doing so.

But the flavor in this is far from exciting. It's not a meat flavor, but a "beef flavor", which could be any part of the animal, and after that it's just a salt flavor. It's that plain, uninteresting taste that largely keeps this jerky from getting a higher rating.

One thing I do enjoy with this jerky is that it reminds me of my childhood, back in the 1970s when my mom would buy jerky. The stuff she bought looked and smelled exactly like this stuff, though I don't think it tastes the same as this. Even back then, the jerky she bought came in canisters just like this one. This even reminds me of the 1972 Chevy Vega hatchback that she loaded the groceries into. But I don't really remember the brand of jerky she used to buy. For all I know it could have been Lowrey's.

As for the beer recommendation, a brown ale would be nice.

Rating: Average

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