Tuesday, December 30, 2008

Sweet Baby Ray's Jerky - Honey Chipotle

Sweet Baby Ray's Jerky - Honey ChipotleSweet Baby Ray's is a brand of BBQ sauces and marinades, and a relatively new one at that, only having been on store shelves since the 1990's. In addition to launching this line of jerky, the brand has also extended its trademark flavors to potato chips too. Their jerky only comes in two varieties, this Honey Chipotle, and an Original.

Bridgford Foods is the actual manufacturer of this jerky, they're one of the top selling brands of jerky worldwide. It actually has the Bridgford logo on the package, but in a smaller size, and off to the left. It's a co-branded product, but because Sweet Baby Ray's has the top billing on this package, I'm filing it under that name.

Sweet Baby Ray's jerky first appeared on store shelves in August of 2007. It appears to be suffering from a lack of distribution. I've only seen this at my local Walgreen's drug store.

Note the stamp at the upper-left of the package that says "Smaller Package - More Beef Jerky". Bridgford Foods is the first mass-market jerky to adopt a "green packaging initiative", by utilizing 42% less plastic. But it's certainly not more jerky. Bridgford went from a 4oz package, to a 3.65oz package, and now to this 3.5oz package.


Beef, water, brown sugar, salt, sugars, Sweet Baby Ray's Honey Chipotle base, ground mustard, monosodium glutamate, soluable black pepper, spices, granulated garlic, sodium erythorbate, onion powder, sodium nitrite.


The tastes I pick up from the surface of these pieces is a smoky flavor, followed by a sweet taste, some salty taste, and just wee smidgeon of spicy tingle. In the chewing, the tastes I get is a heavier sweet, a tad more spicy tingle, and hints of natural meat flavors.

First off, I've never had Sweet Baby Ray's sauces, let alone their honey chipotle variety. So, I can't judge how well this jerky mimics the taste of that sauce. But I'll just say right now that I don't taste much honey, or much chipotle. I've had Bridgford's jerky many times, and actually, I don't taste a big difference between this jerky and Bridgford's regular jerky.

However, I will say I do sense a tad more sweet flavor in this jerky compared to Bridgford's regular jerky, and I do pick up a spicy tingle. I don't taste anything resembling the unique flavor of chipotle, but I do get that spiciness. However, it's not that hot. On my hot scale, I'd rate it as a mild-medium.

But overall, this jerky largely tastes like Bridgford's regular jerky, their "original" variety; it's just a bit more sweet, with that bit of spiciness. I'll note that I did find one piece that was much more soft and moist, and provided stronger flavor, and a more intense spiciness.

The level of salt intensity in this is moderate.

Like with all of Bridgford's jerky, there are very little natural meat flavors to enjoy in this. Actually, I don't really taste any during normal snacking. It's only when I suck on a piece for several seconds, and then start chewing, that I can find some of that meat flavor.

Meat Consistency

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

For the most part, this is a dry jerky, with just hints of moisture. It chews fairly easily, maybe a little chewy in some places, and seems to tear apart with the grain pretty easily.

The chewing texture is rather steak-like once it hydrates in my mouth. There is a bit of that "softened" feel to it, but overall I think it has a good chewing texture.

It's a pretty clean eating jerky, leaving no residue on my fingers or meat fragments in my lap. However, there's a about half ounce of crumbled pieces in the bottom of the bag.

I don't really see any sizeable amounts of fat, and no chewy connective tissue.

Snacking Value

I paid $5.29 for this 3.5 ounce package at a Walgreen's drug store in Menifee, CA. That works out to a price of $1.51 per ounce, putting this in the average price range.

For general jerky snacking purposes, it's a good value. I do find a good deal of snackability in this. It has a good deal of flavor intensity, a decent taste overall, and a good chewing texture.

But as a Sweet Baby Ray's Honey Chipotle variety, it's a fair value at best. If I were a fan of Sweet Baby Ray's BBQ sauces, I'd feel ripped-off with this jerky. I'd expect to get something that pounds out their award-winning flavor, instead I get something that tastes mostly like Bridgford's regular jerky.


I'm giving this an average rating.

It's largely s snackable jerky, and that's really about it. It has a good deal of flavor intensity, has a decent taste overall, and a good chewing texture.

But otherwise it's nothing special, nothing exciting, just your garden variety Bridgford's jerky. Maybe it's a bit more sweet than Bridgford's regular jerky, with a bit of spiciness. But that's really about all the Sweet Baby Ray's you're going to get from this.

Look at it this way, if you already love Bridgford jerky, then you're going to love this too. However, if you're skeptical of mass-market jerky, this particular offering from Sweet Baby Ray's will only reinforce your skepticism.

A brown ale would probably pair up well this with.

Rating: Average

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