Friday, September 12, 2008

Trader Joe's Turkey Jerky - Original

Trader Joe's Turkey Jerky - OriginalTrader 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 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, Apple Cider Vinegar, Salt, Flavorings, Paprika, Natural Smoke Flavoring, Caramel Color.


A sweet taste is the first thing I pick up off the surface of these pieces. That's followed by a smoky flavor. Getting into the chew, I can pick up some salt flavor, and a wee bit of the natural meat flavors. That's about it.

I've been rather dismayed by much of Trader Joe's jerky for having such little taste, and I'm finding consistency with this Original Turkey Jerky variety. Although, I do find more of the natural meat flavors in their turkey jerky compared to their beef jerky. But nonetheless, even this turkey jerky is still rather light on taste.

For some reason, being "all natural", or healthy, has to equate to being void of flavor. I think it's part of an indoctrination that started when we were kids, that if its good for you, it won't taste good.

Like I said, the natural turkey meat flavor does have a little bit of showing in this jerky. Just not a lot. Turkey has a unique taste, unlike anything else. Keep in mind however, that I'm thinking hard about what I'm tasting for the purposes of writing this review. If I were snacking on this without thinking about it, I don't think I'd taste much of anything at all.

For the most part, the taste that dominates this jerky is a wee bit of sweet, and a wee bit of salt. Even though soy sauce has a heavier weight in the ingredients list, I don't taste that either.

Overall, this is a jerky that's weak on flavor. At least it doesn't taste bad. However, a jerky has to offer flavor, it's a snack food after all, and should please the taste buds.

Meat Consistency

These appear to be cuts of whole meat, sliced in medium thickness, and in small to medium sized pieces.

This is a soft and tender variety of jerky, being semi-moist. It's easy to tear off and chew. It still retains its fibrous texture, as opposed to crumbling apart like many other tenderized jerkies.

I find nothing in the way of tendon, gristle, ligaments, or connective tissue. I don't see any fat on this.

Overall, this has an excellent meat consistency.

Trader Joe's Turkey Jerky - Original

Trader Joe's Turkey Jerky - Original
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.

For general jerky snacking purposes, it actually has a good value mainly because of its lower price point. Even though it doesn't offer much taste, it doesn't taste bad. I think most jerky snackers will still find satisfaction in it.

As an original variety of turkey jerky, it's a weaker value. I taste only a little bit of the natural meat flavors. Most people tend to think that turkey jerky is more healthy than beef jerky, but that's not necessarily true. If you compare this to Trader Joe's original beef jerky (which I have not yet reviewed), it has the same amount of cholesterol, sodium, protein, sugars, and vitamins. The differences is that the turkey has 0gm of fat compared to 1gm for beef, 60 calories compared to 70 for beef, and 6gm of carbs compared to 5gm in the beef. That's pretty much the case across all brands of turkey jerky. Ok, there's a little bit of an advantage, but not much.

So basically, you're buying this turkey jerky for its wee bit of sweet and salty, or for ideological reasons (maybe you're against beef). Either way, Trader Joe's turkey jerky doesn't provide any significant value over beef.


I'm giving this a fair rating.

The lack of taste, or very little taste, is what prevents this jerky from getting any higher rating. A jerky needs to be "snackable" in order to get the higher average rating, and the fact that it's devoid of any significant taste makes it hard for me to enjoy as a snack.

Otherwise, the only reason why I might eat this is because I'm hungry, or maybe because I'm on a low-carb-high-protein diet. This jerky's only saving graces are that it doesn't taste bad, and that it has a low price point.

If anything Trader Joe's probably does pretty well selling this jerky, but based on the power of its brand, which this public seems to associate with being healthy and environmentally friendly. It's a testament to the power of brands that a company can market a mediocre product and still make money from it.

For my beer recommendation, I'd go with a hoppy beer, like an IPA.

Rating: Fair

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


  1. this old indian makes some of the best stuff i have ever pit in my mouth

  2. I don't see Jerky Direct listed here. It is DEFINATLEY worth trying.