Monday, April 28, 2008

Golden Island Beef Jerky - Mandarin Orange

Golden Island Beef Jerky - Mandarin OrangeThe Golden Island brand of beef jerky is manufactured by Southern California-based Universal Food Company, and focuses on making asian-flavored beef jerky that mimics favorite chinese food dishes. Their products can be found at select Sam's Club, Wal-Mart, and Costco locations in California and Texas.

This Mandarin Orange variety is meant to mimic the same Mandarin Orange Beef that you might at your local chinese resturant. Upon opening the bag, there is a strong orange scent that permeates out. This jerky is very oily to the touch and requires some finger licking.

Taste

The ingredients list shows the following: beef, sugar, mirin wine, orange juice concentrate, pineapple juice concentrate, soy sauce, spices, vegetable oil, salt, pineapple concentrate powder, orange concentrate powder, less than 1% of the following: sodium nitrite cure, sodium erythorbate, disodium inosinate, disodium guanylate, FD&C Red #40, FD&C Yellow #5.

Note that it does not contain MSG.

The first taste that strikes me is the thick sweetness that indeed gives off an orange flavor of the Chinese kind. There is some tanginess that seemingly continues on forever as you chew and chew. There is some saltiness to it, but it's subtle.

The meat actually reminds me more of chinese-style BBQ pork (which Golden Island also offers). I can't taste a whole lot of the natural beef flavors, but with some chewing you can extract just enough of the taste to let you know that it's somewhere in there.

Meat Consistency

These appear to be real cuts of meat, sliced medium, and presented in medium to large pieces.

I can see quite a bit of gristle, and was able to find some large chunks of fat.

The meat tears apart and chews with ease, but I found another piece that required more chewing effort. But it's not moist. The meat itself is on the dry side, but the layer of oil covering these pieces helps break the fibers apart and makes chewing easy.

Product Value

I paid $5.99 for this 4oz bag at a Fry's Electronics store in San Diego, CA. That works out to $1.50 per oz, within the average price range.

I'd say it offers a good value as a beef jerky. For the most part, it's easy to tear off and chew, and offers plenty of flavor with every chew. The heavy layer of oil can be a little annoying as you have to suck your fingers clean before touching anything else. As a "mandarin orange" variety, it certainly does offer a lot of value with some great taste.

The large streaks of gristle did make eating this jerky a little bit of a fight, but it may have just been the review sample I had.

This product does not come in a resealable bag, so you'll have to finish it all, or find a zip-loc bag to keep it in.

Golden Island Beef Jerky - Mandarin Orange

Golden Island Beef Jerky - Mandarin Orange

Rating

I'm giving this an "average" rating.

It's strong point is it heavy flavor, that does indeed mimic something you'd expect to taste at a chinese restaurant. It's for the most part, a soft and tender jerky.

However, the oily touch and the large streaks of gristle (and chunks of fat), kept this from reaching a higher rating. I had one piece where I had to nibble the meat off the gristle, and throw the gristle away. This just lessens the enjoyment of eating beef jerky.

Otherwise, it does offer some good snackability. The strong flavor kept me reaching for more.

Rating: Average

Buy this from Amazon.com:

Beef Jerky Bouquet

Beef Jerky BouquetBecause nothing says "I Love You Dad" than a mug full of meat.

Beef Jerky Bouquet is a great way, and a fun way at that, to send a gift to your Dad, whether its Father's Day, his birthday, or just because you think he's a good guy.

You can choose from two "bouquets", their 23oz Pilsner Glass, or their 25oz Beer Mug.

Check them out online...
http://www.beefjerkybouquet.com

Sunday, April 27, 2008

Walgreens Steakhouse Beef Jerky - Teriyaki

Walgreens Steakhouse Beef Jerky - TeriyakiThe Steakhouse brand of beef jerky is owned by the Walgreens drug store chain. It's actually made by Mirab USA, the world's largest manufacturer of private-labeled beef jerky.

All of the Steakhouse brand that I've seen thus far consists of "formed beef jerky", that is, ground up pieces of beef leftovers that gets pressed and formed into jerky shapes. While technically still beef, I don't really like to call it "jerky". It's about as "factory" as beef jerky gets these days. But it's a way for the meat industry to use every last piece of the animal, and waste nothing.

Taste

The ingredients list shows: beef, water, sugar, soy sauce, salt, maltodextrin, seasonings, apple cider vinegar, MSG, paprika, sodium tripolyphosphate, black pepper powder, citric acid, sodium erythorbate, disodium inosinate, sodium nitrite.

It's probably the teriyaki flavor that I taste the most. It's not a strong taste by any means, but it's definitely noticeable. There is some saltiness in this, not too bad though. There's also a slight sweetness, normally associated with the teriyaki flavor.

I don't really taste any of the natural beef flavors. I can't confirm that this stuff was actually made from meat (muscle). All the package says is "beef", but as we know "beef" can mean any part of the cow or steer beneath the skin.

This stuff doesn't even smell like beef jerky. It doesn't smell bad, but I can't describe what it smells like. It's probably all those ingredients that end in "te".

Meat Consistency

Again, this is formed jerky, made from pieces of beef, which may include muscle, but can also include any other part of the animal. Looking at some pieces carefully, I can see little streaks of stuff that appear to be "meat". The pieces are riddled with tiny dark spots, who knows what that stuff is.

The pieces are in medium thickness, and are largely soft and easy to tear off and chew. Like formed jerky always is, the pieces don't chew like meat, they crumble apart in your mouth instead.

Product Value

Walgreens sell these at $5.00 for two bags, with each bag at 3 ounces. That works out to $0.83 per ounce. Cheap. If you bought one bag only, it'll cost $2.99, or $1.00 per ounce.

Honestly, I don't find much value in this as a beef jerky. Being formed jerky, it starts out very low in expectations, and this particular variety doesn't disappoint in that regards. It does offer some teriyaki flavor, but that's about where the value ends.

As for general snacking, I wouldn't reach for a second piece. If you just needed to replenish your body with needed proteins, then perhaps. But if that's all you want, then get yourself a Snickers bar.

Walgreens Steakhouse Beef Jerky - Teriyaki

Walgreens Steakhouse Beef Jerky - Teriyaki

Rating

I'm rating this as "dog treats".

Again, formed jerky is always at a disadvantage in my book. It would have to offer outstanding flavor, and provide great snackability. This stuff just doesn't stand out at all.

Rating: Dog Treats

Buy this online:

Saturday, April 26, 2008

Smokey's Beef Jerky - Teriyaki Nuggets

Smokey's Beef JerkySmokey's Beef Jerky is a little jerky business in Big Bear Lake, CA, located right on Big Bear Lake Blvd inside a little house. They also sell candies and coffee blends.

All their jerky is presented inside a display case, it's not sealed in plastic bags like so much other jerky is. But that only means you have to eat it right away, or otherwise it dries out and loses its freshness. They don't use any preservatives and is made 100% all natural ingredients.

"Teriyaki Nuggets" is apparently Smokey's best selling product.

Taste

Because I don't have a package label, I can't give you an ingredients list.

Mostly what I taste right away is a thick sweet teriyaki flavor. There does appear to be some natural beef flavor, but not very strong. Some pieces have a stronger beef taste than others. It's also rather salty.

It's possible I may be tasting some soy sauce back there.

There is also some smokey flavor.

Meat Consistency

These are made with real chunks of beef, and cut into bite-sized pieces.

The pieces I have here for review are mostly dry. The thick teriyaki basting makes this wet on the outside. Some pieces were rather tough, but being bite-sized, you don't have to bother tearing them apart. I did, however, find some pieces more easier to chew than others.

I found some small chunks of fat on one piece, and another piece had some chewy tendon in it, but small.

Product Value

I paid $16.50 for 8 ounces of mixed variety. That works out to $2.06 per ounce, putting this into the expensive category. Note that the company's website shows a price of $15.00 for 8 ounces, which would put it at $1.88 per ounce, just barely into the "average" ballpark.

As bite-sized beef jerky chunks, I think this has some good value. I prefer to grab ahold a larger piece and tear off a bite, because I like that natural instinct of ripping apart flesh. However, the thick teriyaki covering might make that a sticky affair. If you like teriyaki, this definitely offers plenty of good value.

But for the higher price point, I keep expecting something better in this variety. It's rather dry, and some pieces are tough. And all it seems to offer in taste, is the teriyaki flavor.

It does seem to offer some snackability though.

Smokey's Beef Jerky - Teriyaki Nuggets

Smokey's Beef Jerky - Teriyaki Nuggets

Rating

I'm giving this variety an "average" rating.

First, I don't care much for salty jerky. I understand that salt is a primary ingredient in jerky, but I've had plenty of jerky wasn't this salty. Some of the nuggets are rather dry and tough.

While the teriyaki flavor is good, I keep wanting that additional contrast flavor. Perhaps some black pepper, or maybe some ginger, something to give it a "bite" against the sweet teriyaki.

Rating: Average

Buy this online:

Smokey's Beef Jerky - Teriyaki Turkey

Smokey's Beef JerkySmokey's Beef Jerky is a little jerky business in Big Bear Lake, CA, located right on Big Bear Lake Blvd inside a little house. They also sell candies and coffee blends.

All their jerky is presented inside a display case, it's not sealed in plastic bags like so much other jerky is. But that only means you have to eat it right away, or otherwise it dries out and loses its freshness. They don't use any preservatives and is made 100% all natural ingredients.

Taste

Because I don't have a package label, I can't give you an ingredients list.

Mostly what I taste right away is a thick sweet teriyaki flavor and the natural turkey flavors. There is also some smokiness to this as well. In the background is a bit of black pepper.

What I also like is what I can't taste much of: salt.

Meat Consistency

These are made with real chunks of turkey, and cut into medium sized pieces.

The pieces I have here for review are largely dry, except for the fact that they are covered in a moist teriyaki basting. But they are still easy to tear apart and chew. Being that this is turkey, it doesn't chew like beef, which I don't expect it to. This is actually interesting, most of the turkey jerky I've had from other brands tend to chew and tear just like beef. Smokey's brand of turkey jerky actually has the characteristics of turkey.

I found some small chunks of fat on one piece, and that piece also had a piece of tendon (or something like tendon) in it.

Product Value

I paid $16.50 for 8 ounces of mixed variety. That works out to $2.06 per ounce, putting this into the expensive category. Note that the company's website shows a price of $15.00 for 8 ounces, which would put it at $1.88 per ounce, just barely into the "average" ballpark.

As a turkey jerky, I think this has great value because you're getting some great jerky experience in something that's easy to tear off and chew, and offers plenty of natural turkey flavor. Being a teriyaki variety, you're also getting a lot of teriyaki taste.

It also offers good snackability, I found myself wanting to reach for more.

Smokey's Beef Jerky - Teriyaki Turkey

Smokey's Beef Jerky - Teriyaki Turkey

Rating

I'm giving this variety a "best" rating.

All throughout eating these review pieces, I found myself straddling the line between "good" and "best". Something in me kept wanting something a little more moist. It's a tad on the dry side.

But I thought the taste was exceptional. As a teriyaki variety, you're getting a lot of thick sweet teriyaki flavor. The addition of black pepper gives it the right amount of contrast in spiciness.

The fact that you're also getting some good turkey flavors in this is to be commended. You don't find many turkey jerkies that actually taste like real turkey.

Rating: Best

Buy this online:

Smokey's Beef Jerky - Hickory

Smokey's Beef JerkySmokey's Beef Jerky is a little jerky business in Big Bear Lake, CA, located right on Big Bear Lake Blvd inside a little house. They also sell candies and coffee blends.

All their jerky is presented inside a display case, it's not sealed in plastic bags like so much other jerky is. But that only means you have to eat it right away, or otherwise it dries out and loses its freshness. They don't use any preservatives and is made 100% all natural ingredients.

This "Hickory" variety is what I presume to be Smokey's "regular" or "original" variety. It's actually slightly seasoned with black pepper.

Taste

Because I don't have a package label, I can't give you an ingredients list.

Mostly what I taste right away is a combination of black pepper and soy sauce. There is a nice smokey flavor as well, and it's rather salty.

There is a good taste of the natural beef flavors.

Meat Consistency

These are made with real slices of beef, sliced very thin, and cut into large pieces.

This review piece is very dry, but sliced so thin that it tears apart and chews very easy. It has a crispness to it, reminiscent of eating a fresh piece of "nori", dried seaweed.

It also contains some fat marbilization, which I always find adds to the natural meat flavors.

Product Value

I paid $16.50 for 8 ounces of mixed variety. That works out to $2.06 per ounce, putting this into the expensive category. Note that the company's website shows a price of $15.00 for 8 ounces, which would put it at $1.88 per ounce, just barely into the "average" ballpark.

As a beef jerky, this Hickory variety offers great value for providing a nice jerky experience being easy to tear apart and chew. It also offers plenty of flavor in both spices and natural meat taste. The crisp consistency is actually quite pleasant with an ultra-thin slice, making for great snackability.

Smokey's Beef Jerky - Hickory

Smokey's Beef Jerky - Hickory

Rating

I'm giving this variety a "good" rating.

I found myself wanting more and more of this variety. While I prefer soft and moist beef jerky, I actually enjoyed this dry jerky, mainly because it was sliced so thin, that it tore apart and chewed very easily. It makes for a pleasant experience being crisp when sliced this thin.

What would have pushed it up to a higher rating is if it could have offered some additional flavor enhancer, like a faint spiciness of chili, or maybe a bit more sweetness, and if it could cut down on the salt.

Rating: Good

Buy this online:

Smokey's Beef Jerky - Chile Lime

Smokey's Beef JerkySmokey's Beef Jerky is a little jerky business in Big Bear Lake, CA, located right on Big Bear Lake Blvd inside a little house. They also sell candies and coffee blends.

All their jerky is presented inside a display case, it's not sealed in plastic bags like so much other jerky is. But that only means you have to eat it right away, or otherwise it dries out and loses its freshness. They don't use any preservatives and is made 100% all natural ingredients.

Taste

Because I don't have a package label, I can't give you an ingredients list.

Mostly what I taste right away is chili powder and some saltiness. As for the "lime", there is in fact a citrus-like overtone, but the chili powder flavor is largely what dominates this variety. The small pieces of chili pepper add enough spiciness that I'd classify this as "medium hot".

There is perhaps a faint taste of the natural beef flavors.

Meat Consistency

These are made with real slices of beef, sliced average, and cut into large pieces.

The piece I have here for review is very dry, and rather tough to tear off and chew. Each chunk I tear off leaves tiny white frayed fibers sticking out. A sign of being overly dry. It's more of a "man's jerky".

This piece appears to be very lean, I don't see much fat on this at all.

Product Value

I paid $16.50 for 8 ounces of mixed variety. That works out to $2.06 per ounce, putting this into the expensive category. Note that the company's website shows a price of $15.00 for 8 ounces, which would put it at $1.88 per ounce, just barely into the "average" ballpark.

As a beef jerky, this Chile Lime variety doesn't offer much value considering its high price point, mainly because the experience it offers is ruined by it being very dry and very tough to tear and chew. But it does offer good value as a chile lime variety because you get a lot of chile taste in the powder and pieces of chile pepper, but just don't get much lime flavoring.

Smokey's Beef Jerky - Chile Lime

Smokey's Beef Jerky - Chile Lime

Rating

I'm giving this variety a "fair" rating.

It's best merit is that it offers plenty of chile flavoring in a chile lime variety, and overall the taste is good. It's just that being overly dry and very tough, ruins the snackability, and ruins the whole jerky experience. It had me losing my interest for this variety, even though I liked it's chile taste. Perhaps it was just my review piece that was particularly bad.

It would be nice to get some more lime flavor too.

Rating: Fair

Buy this online:

Smokey's Beef Jerky - Sweet & Spicy

Smokey's Beef JerkySmokey's Beef Jerky is a little jerky business in Big Bear Lake, CA, located right on Big Bear Lake Blvd inside a little house. They also sell candies and coffee blends.

All their jerky is presented inside a display case, it's not sealed in plastic bags like so much other jerky is. But that only means you have to eat it right away, or otherwise it dries out and loses its freshness. They don't use any preservatives and is made 100% all natural ingredients.

Taste

Because I don't have a package label, I can't give you an ingredients list.

Mostly what I taste right away is black pepper, and some sweetness. There also appears to be a soy sauce taste as well, though it could just be salt mixed with the beef flavors.

As a sweet & spicy variety, the spiciness is what I would consider mild, but probably could be "medium hot" for many others. I see a couple chili pepper seeds.

I do taste some natural beef flavors as well, but it's overpowered by the flavorings.

Meat Consistency

These are made with real slices of beef, sliced thin, and cut into large pieces.

It's mostly dry, as most thin sliced jerky is, but still is still soft and easy to tear off and chew. I would not call this chewy by any means. If you prefer soft and tender jerky, I think you'd still enjoy this.

The pieces have some nice fat marblization.

Product Value

I paid $16.50 for 8 ounces of mixed variety. That works out to $2.06 per ounce, putting this into the expensive category. Note that the company's website shows a price of $15.00 for 8 ounces, which would put it at $1.88 per ounce, just barely into the "average" ballpark.

As a beef jerky, I think it has "good" value in that does offer good taste and a good experience in tearing and chewing, as well as no preservatives and all natural ingredients. As a sweet & spicy variety, I prefer some more sweetness and a little bit more spiciness. I can find sweet & spicy jerky priced much less, offering similar jerky experience.

Smokey's Beef Jerky

Smokey's Beef Jerky

Rating

I'm giving this variety an "average" rating.

While it has good taste, and offers a soft consistency in a thinly sliced jerky, I didn't feel it offered much in the way of sweetness and spiciness. If you're going to offer a food as being "spicy", then make it spicy, because people who don't typically eat spicy food will not typically buy spicy food.

Still, I did enjoy this jerky for what it was. It had great snackability, and kept me reaching for more. It just didn't meet my expectation of a sweet & spicy variety. But I clearly understand that this is just my opinion, and many others will find this exceptional.

Rating: Average

Buy this online:

Wednesday, April 23, 2008

Jack Link's Ham Jerky

Jack Link's Ham JerkyWhen Jack Link's came out with ham jerky I thought it was a bit of an oxymoron, being that ham is already cured, salted, and smoked. All you had to do was take a perfectly good slice of ham, and dry it out.

But that wouldn't be following in the brand's reputation for soft and tender jerky. So I was always curious about it. I finally got a chance to pick up a bag at a local Wal-Mart and try it out.

Monday, April 21, 2008

Alien Fresh Jerky - Cowboy Jerky

Alien Fresh Jerky - Cowboy JerkyThe Alien Fresh Brand of beef jerky is a familiar brand to those living in Southern California and Las Vegas, for the simple fact that it's hard to miss their freeway signs on Interstate 15.

The image of a cute little alien wearing a cowboy hat, sitting atop a horse, and rounding up a herd of cattle seems to evoke a sense that if anyone has the superior technology and know how to make a really killer batch of beef jerky, aliens from outer space have it.

This variety called, "Cowboy Jerky", is Alien Fresh's peppered variety. For the most part, Alien Fresh Jerky is indeed one of the better brands of jerky I've had, and this particular variety doesn't disappoint.

Taste

The ingredients list shows the following: whole slices of beef, soy sauce, water, garlic, spices, and smoke flavoring.

Most of what I taste with this variety is soy sauce, some black pepper, and the natural beef flavors. After eating several pieces, I can taste more of the saltiness.

For a peppered variety, there is a good amount of black pepper taste, and a good amount of black pepper to be seen. Some pieces have a lot of pepper on them and as a result the pepper flavor is more dominant. But even still, I can't say that every piece has a dominant pepper taste. For the most part, it's more like an enhancement to the overall flavor.

The natural beef flavors are very evident, even upon the first bite. I love beef jerky that retains a lot of natural beef flavors, and this doesn't disappoint.

Meat Consistency

These are real cuts of beef, sliced thick, and sliced into medium sized pieces.

These pieces are on the dry side, and are rather chewy. This somewhat resembles older-style jerky, back when it was a man's snack food. Most pieces require some effort to tear off with your teeth. If you want soft and tender jerky this isn't it.

Most pieces appear to have some fat marblization, but not much.

I found many pieces to have some chewy tendon, and at least one piece with a very dry and very tough piece of cartilage.

Product Value

Alien Fresh Jerky sells this at $8.00 for a 4 ounce bag, making it $2.00 per ounce. That's on the high side. But they also offer a deal where if you buy three bags, of any variety, you get them for $20.00 total, or making it $1.67 per ounce, an average price.

What this jerky has to offer in terms of value is it's abundance of natural beef flavors. The black pepper and soy sauce flavorings are quite evident, and will provide plenty of satisfaction if you savor each piece.

Probably the best way to get your money's worth out of this variety of "Cowboy Jerky", is to soften up a piece with your molars, and then suck on it for awhile, extracting out the juices, before chewing it up and swallowing. You get lots of great natural beef, pepper, and soy sauce, flavors.

Alien Fresh Jerky - Cowboy Jerky

Alien Fresh Jerky - Cowboy Jerky

Rating

I'm giving a "good" rating.

This is definitely a jerky to enjoy for its merits, something I'd take with me to the backyard patio, sit down in a chair, and enjoy while listening to the birds sing. It does have great snackability, but you might miss out on how good this jerky is if you're concentrating on something else.

While some folks love drier, chewier, jerky, I still prefer it more soft and more tender than this. It would have also been preferable to taste some other kind of flavoring aside from just soy sauce and pepper.

But the natural beef flavors that come out in this, is enough to make this better than average. And let's not discount the fact that Alien Fresh Jerky did not use MSG, sodium nitrite or other artificial flavorings and preservatives. Kudos to them!

Rating: Good

Buy this online:

Sunday, April 20, 2008

Wal-Mart Great Value Beef Jerky - Sweet & Hot

Wal-Mart Great Value Beef Jerky - Sweet & HotGreat Value is one of Wal-Mart's famous store brands, reflecting a product line of low-priced goods manufactured by an army of private label companies.

I'm not exactly sure who makes the Great Value brand of beef jerky, but I've seen rumors across the Internet that it's made by Link Snacks, Inc., the maker of Jack Link's beef jerky.

This jerky does indeed look and smell just like the Jack Link's jerky, and has a taste and consistency that also resembles the same.

Several years ago, Wal-Mart positioned its beef jerky towards the camping and outdoors section of its store. A few years ago, they revamped their beef jerky marketing strategy by introducing this "sunrise" graphic, and softening the design to make it appeal to all sexes and age groups. Now, it's sold in same section with the snack foods, and is selling a lot better because of it.

Taste

The ingredients list shows the following: beef, water, sugar, salt, flavorings, MSG, spice, sodium nitrite.

Mostly what I taste is a subtle sweetness, and a little bit more spiciness. Overall, the spiciness is not that hot, probably what I would refer to as "mild", and what softer tongues might refer to as "medium hot". There is also a salty taste, but not overpowering at all.

Otherwise, I don't really taste much anything else, aside from a slight smokiness.

I don't taste much any of the natural beef flavors either. I was able to get a hint of beef, but very subtle, after chewing a piece, and sucking out the juices. And I got that taste from one of the dryer, less seasoned, pieces. I found another piece that had some larger streaks of fat which gave off a better beef experience.

Meat Consistency

Many pieces are cut large, and others bite-sized. The pieces are sliced medium.

These appears to be cuts of real meat.

Most of the pieces are soft and tender, with just the right amount of chewiness to provide a good beef jerky experience. The package says that this meat was tenderized with bromelain, a popular meat tenderizer. Some of the pieces have that soft rubbery consistency which you often find in Jack Link's beef jerky, further suggesting that this was made by them.

Most of the pieces appear to be quite lean, but there were some others with a slight marblization, and one piece that had larger streaks of fat. I did find a few pieces with some tendon.

Product Value

As a Wal-Mart brand, you expect this to be cheap, and cheap it is. I paid $2.98 for a 4 ounce bag, working out to $0.75 per ounce.

This jerky does live up to its flavor claim of being sweet and spicy, probably more spicy than sweet. Even though it really isn't that hot for me, it'll be plenty hot for most folks.

Since most folks like soft and tender jerky, made with real meat, and with some good flavor, this is defintely a great value considering its low price point.

Wal-Mart Great Value Beef Jerky - Sweet & Hot

Wal-Mart Great Value Beef Jerky - Sweet & Hot

Rating

I'm giving this an average rating.

While it has great snackability, and great value, it still doesn't jump out at me as warranting a higher rating. The flavor is rather ordinary. I would have liked this to offer some unique flavors. As it is, the relatively plain and usual ingredients list makes this a "plain jane" jerky.

I'm sure Wal-Mart wasn't wanting gourmet beef jerky anyways. They just wanted something that offers up some great snacking at a low price, and they certainly got it. If low price is important to your snacking habits, try this beef jerky, you should be pleased.

Rating: Average

Where to purchase: at any Wal-Mart store.

Thursday, April 17, 2008

Walgreens Steakhouse Beef Jerky - Peppered

Walgreens Steakhouse Beef Jerky - PepperedSteakhouse is the store brand of beef jerky owned by the Walgreens drug store chain.

For the record, this jerky is private labeled through Mirab USA. The jerky contained in this package is produced by Mirab. For more information about Mirab USA, see our previous article, "Mirab USA - Beef Jerky Private Labeler".

I've always liked Walgreens as a source of snack foods. They seem to have a "good" selection for a drug store, and have good deals on stuff. Some of their other store brands, such as the "Deerfield" brand of sunflower seeds, and their house brand of ice cream, is actually pretty good.

But I can't say the same for their store brand of "Steakhouse" jerky.

Taste

The ingredients list shows the following: beef, water, sugar, maltodextrin, salt, apple cider vinegar, black pepper crushed, MSG, tripolyphosphate, garlic powder, onion powder, hydrolized corn gluten protein, citric acid, sodium nitrite.

Mostly what I taste is the black pepper, and some slight sweetness, and some salt. There is a strong black pepper taste, which is what I would expect in a peppered variety. There is also a slight smokey taste also.

There are no natural beef flavors that I can find in this stuff.

The pieces have a slight "slimy" coating when you pop it into your mouth. This coating has a flavor of some kind, but is very hard to describe. It's not bad tasting, but not necessarily good tasting either.

Meat Consistency

This appears to be "formed" beef jerky. The package says that it's "made from solid strips of beef". That might be, but just solid pieces that were ground up into meal and formed together.

Most of the pieces are large, and require some tearing apart. These pieces do tear apart somewhat easily.

The pieces have a somewhat moist consistency, but more on the dry side.

They are also not very flexible. Some bending causes them to crack and break apart. Chewing a piece mostly causes its crumble apart, which is expected for formed jerky.

Product Value

Walgreens stamps the packages with a price of $2.99 for a three ounce bag, working out to $1.00 per ounce, putting it in the cheap range. But the store offers a lower price of $2.50 per bag, if you buy two bags. That works out to $0.83 cents per ounce. Cheap.

If all you like is good black pepper taste, this does offer that. But as a beef jerky, it doesn't offer much more taste.

Walgreens Steakhouse Beef Jerky - Peppered

Walgreens Steakhouse Beef Jerky - Peppered

Rating

I'm giving this a "Dog Treats" rating.

The fact that its formed jerky, already puts this at a disadvantage. And since it doesn't offer much more on taste, and has a strange tasting coating, and the fact that they loaded it up with MSG and maltodextrin, I'm not sure what more you'd want to do with this stuff other than make your dog do tricks.

Better yet, save your money, and buy your dog some Beggin Strips.

Rating: Dog Treats

Buy this online:

Wednesday, April 16, 2008

Mirab USA - Beef Jerky Private Labeler

Mirab USA brandYou may have never heard of "Mirab USA", but if you love beef jerky, you've probably eaten their stuff.

Mirab USA is the largest private label manufacturer of beef jerky, and for the most part, could very well be the largest manufacturer of beef jerky period. They have a location in Taylor, MI, and another in Buenos Aires, Argentina. The Buenos Aires facility is capable of producing 1 million pounds of jerky per month. Their Taylor facility currently produces about 250,000 bags of jerky per day.

The company's beef jerky is private labeled into some highly known brands, mostly retain chains: Walgreens, K-Mart, Kroger, Rite-AId, Super-Valu, Safeway, Winn-Dixie, Food Club, Stop-n-Shop, H-E-B, Ahold, Best Value, Best-Yet, Tops, Giant, Dollar Tree, Federated, Fred Meyer, Golden Flake, Loblaw, Mills Fleet Farm, Nash Finch, Price Chopper, Raley's, Ralphs, Sportsman's Warehouse, Summit Snacks, Shurfine, Lowes, Food Club, Valu Time, Haggen, Western Family, and there are hundreds more.

If you've bought any of these store-brand jerkies, Mirab made it.

Mirab Beef Jerky InspectorsI contacted the folks at Mirab to find out more about their recipes. Specifically, I wanted to know if the jerky they made for K-Mart was any different from the jerky they made for Walgreens. Well, they wouldn't tell me. But they did say that most all of their private label clients choose from one of their house recipes. Only a small number of clients actually provide their own proprietary recipe.

Mirab's house recipes include "Soft! & Tender!", which is a whole muscle style of beef jerky, "Hung Style", another premium product, "Gold Award", which is a hand chunked & formed product, and "Tender Chew", a chunked & formed product at a lower price point. Mirab also has a line of organic beef jerky, as well as beef steak nuggets, beef sticks, kippered beef, and turkey jerky.

Their private label customers choose from one of these products. If Safeway and Rite Aid both happen to choose the "Gold Award" product, then you can assume that both brands are going to be same.

Mirab also has its own brands of beef jerky including, "Pecos Bill's", "Gold Award", "Rancher's Brand", and "Wild River". They offer these brands to those retail outlets that want to sell jerky, but are not yet ready to private label. I'm assuming that these brands use the same jerky lines that they offer to private labelers.

The company's, "Soft! and Tender!" jerky line is their flagship jerky product, designed to broaden its appeal to women, children, and elderly, for being soft and easy to chew.

Mirab USA private label beef jerky brands
Since my goal here at Best Beef Jerky is to gather together a large following of loyal beef jerky eaters, and to educate them about the beef jerky brands and industry, I had hoped that Mirab USA would open up to me and share some more information about their position in the marketplace, and their influence on jerky eating habits. But they were not willing. So, I'm offering only what I can ascertain from their website.

Perhaps as Best Beef Jerky is able to build its influence, the folks at Mirab USA will see things differently. :)

Tuesday, April 15, 2008

Bridgford Beef Jerky - Teriyaki

Bridgford Beef JerkyBridgford is a brand of meat snacks and deli meats that goes back to 1932. Their products have a very strong presence here in Southern California, largely due to them having gotten there start here, and having their headquarters here.

Interestingly, all of their beef jerky varieties are stamped with a graphic claiming to have received the 2006 award from the Chefsbest "Best Taste Award". Chefsbest is an award designated by the American Culinary Institute.

Taste

The package lists the following ingredients: beef, soy sauce, sugar, sake, water, brown sugar, seasoning blend, salt, sodium erythorbate, sodium nitrite. It also lists Maltodextrin (similar to Splenda) as an ingredient of their seasoning blend.

What I mostly taste is the teriyaki flavor. The flavor is rather mild. When I chew on a piece, and suck out the flavor, I get a fair amount of flavor. Some pieces have more flavor, and some other pieces have very little flavor.

I don't really taste much of the natural beef flavors at all. In fact, some pieces seem to have a faint meat flavor, but it doesn't taste like beef, more like ham or turkey. It's hard to tell.

There is also very little saltiness, which is something I like.

Meat Consistency

These do appear to be real cuts of meat.

Some pieces are sliced thick while others are sliced medium, and cut into medium sizes. There is some marbilization of fat, but it's difficult to see. I found some small pieces of tendon here and there, but all small enough to swallow.

These are soft pieces for the most part, and while some pieces are relatively moist, most of them are somewhere between moist and dry. I did find a few pieces to be rather dry and tough. Overall, these jerky pieces offer great snackability.

Product Value

This was purchased at a Walgreens store in Menifee, CA and had a price of $3.99 per 3 ounce bag. That works out to $1.33 per ounce, putting it into the average ballpark, but at the lower end. Walgreens has a deal where if you buy two bags, you get them at $3.50 per bag, making it $1.17 per ounce. Overall, this is a good price for jerky.

Brigdford's Teriyaki beef jerky is a pretty good value taking into account the average price point, its good (but not phenomenal) teriyaki taste, and its great snackability.

teriyaki beef jerky

teriyaki style jerky

Rating

Bridgford beef jerky nutrition factsI'm giving this an "average" rating.

I really couldn't find anything that stood out as being remarkable, not enough to catapult it into a higher rating. Basically, this is your "garden variety" big brand jerky. It does offer good teriyaki taste, but almost none of the natural beef flavors.

For the most part the pieces are soft, and somewhat moist, and averaged sized. It's a good jerky for watching television with, or passing the time away while driving. But it's not something you're going to relish as a beef jerky connoiseur.

Rating: Average

Buy this online: