Wednesday, December 3, 2008

Jerky Direct - Hickory Smoked

Jerky Direct - Hickory SmokedJerky Direct sells jerky through a multi-level marketing system, similar to the way companies like Arbonne, Partylite, and Medifast operate, where products are represented by a salesman and sold directly to consumers. To buy Jerky Direct, you have to contact an authorized sales rep, visit their website, or find them at street fairs and farmers markets.

Jerky Direct's jerky is actually made by Intermountain Natural, LLC, based out of Idaho Falls, ID. Jerky Direct was started by Roger Ball in 2004, who also happened to start Intermountain Natural. He also started another jerky company, Golden Valley Natural, which sells jerky the traditional way, through distributors that carry it to grocery stores. Ball also founded another successful company, Melaleuca, which sells health and wellness products.

For the most part, the jerky offered through Jerky Direct seems to be the same as that offered by Golden Valley Natural, but with some exceptions. One of those exceptions is this package of Hickory Smoked. This is a chopped & formed jerky, whereas everything that Golden Valley Natural offers seems to be whole muscle.


Beef, sugar, water, soy sauce, worcestershire sauce.


The tastes I pick up from the surface of these pieces is a pronounced smoky flavor, and a wee bit of sweet. Moving into the chewing, I'm getting a salt flavor and some meat flavors.

Right off the bat, I can tell you this jerky has more flavor to it than most of the other brands made by Intermountain Natural. It's still not an intense flavor, but clearly more taste than what you'd find in the Golden Valley Natural line, or even the Trader Joe's and Whole Foods Market brands, which are also made by Intermountain.

For being advertised as a hickory smoked jerky, it does indeed have a clearly identifiable smoky character. I'm still not an expert on the smoke woods, so I can't attest to this having a hickory smoked taste, but then again this is liquid smoke flavoring anyways.

The natural meat flavors are much more evident in this jerky than much of what I've experienced from other jerkies made by Intermountain. I actually get the sense that I'm eating beef, though the chopped & formed consistency tempers that sense.

I don't really notice much flavor from the soy sauce or worcestershire sauce. If anything they simply enhance the meat flavor.

The salt intensity is fairly light.

Overall, the dominant taste of this jerky is the natural meat flavors, with the smoke flavoring having the second-most dominant taste, followed by the salt. It has a moderate-level flavor intensity.

Meat Consistency

This appears to be a chopped & formed jerky, with an average thickness, formed into medium sized pieces.

It's mostly a dry jerky, with maybe just a tad of moisture. It's very crumbly, with pieces breaking off very easily. It's also very easy to chew.

The chewing texture is somewhat dry, very crumbly, but is probably about as steaklike as a chopped & formed jerky can get. It actually reduces to tiny meat granules in my mouth just before swallowing. It's chopped very fine, that is, I don't find any bits of bone, cartilage, or crunchy stuff.

It's also a fairly clean jerky, aside from the tiny fragments of jerky that fall into my lap while biting off a piece. And for being chopped & form, it's not greasy at all, quite dry.

Snack Value

You can buy this hickory smoked jerky from a Jerky Direct salesman at a price of $12.00 for two 4 ounce packages. That works out to a price of $1.50 per ounce, putting this into the average price range.

For general jerky snacking purposes, it's a fair buy. While it has decent flavor, it's not a great tasting jerky, but does provide a decent amount of meat flavors, and is easy to eat. It's snackable up to a certain point, but because of its moderate-level flavor intensity, and lack of flavor complexity, I don't feel inspired to eat the whole 4 ounce bag.

It's a better value if you want a jerky with a strong smoky flavor. While I wouldn't consider this jerky to have a strong smoky flavor, it still has an easily identifiable smoky flavor, and so it's a better value, still not a great value.

But it probably has a good value as a diet snack, being only 60 calories per ounce, with 1 gm fat, and 1 gm carbs, which is all pretty low for jerky. It's even just inside the low end on sodium. And no preservatives too.


I'm giving this an average rating.

While this does have a fair amount of snackability, it's not totally snackable in my opinion. But the fact that it offers a decent amount of meat flavors wins enough points to keep it at the average level. It's also very easy to eat.

But for the most, it's a boring jerky. While this offers some meat flavors, it's not a strong meat flavor. And aside from the smoky flavor and salt, I don't really taste anything else.

While the chewing texture had something of a steak-like quality, it was still rather dry, and the tiny meat granules that it reduced to made the whole chewing experience slightly unpleasant. Had the flavor been tasty enough, I could have overlooked the chewing experience. Instead, the flavor is lackluster.

My beer recommendation with this is a brown ale.

Rating: Average

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