Wednesday, December 31, 2008

Smokecraft Beef Jerky - Original

Smokecraft Beef Jerky - OriginalSmokecraft is one of those brands that seems to have been around forever. I found this particular "super size" bag at the Oberto Factory Store in Seattle, WA last November.

At one point, Smokecraft was owned by International Multifoods Corporation, considered to be one of the "big three" foodmakers of the world. I'm not sure how long it was owned by them. But in 1986, the company sold the brand to Curtice Burns Foods, a foodmaker best known for the Birdseye brand. Curtice Burns later acquired the Lowrey's Meat Snack brand, and combined the two into Curtice Burns Meat Snacks.

Then in 1994, Curtice Burns sold both Smokecraft and Lowrey's to Oberto Sausage Company, which overnight made Oberto the largest jerky manufacturer in the world.

On this package is a sticker that says "ends and pieces". I'm wondering if this is Oberto's way of describing their rejected pieces.


Beef, dextrose, water, flavorings, brown sugar, hydrolyzed beef stock, salt, hydrolyzed corn, soy, wheat protein, natural smoke flavoring, monosodium glutamate, sodium erythorbate, sodium nitrite.

Note that these ingredients are very similar to Lowrey's Big Beef, except that this stuff contains "hydrolyzed beef stock".


The tastes I pick up from the surface of these pieces is a smoky flavor and a salty flavor. In the chewing, I get just a bit more salty flavor, a stronger smoky flavor, and that's it.

After having eaten a few of these strips, the word that keeps coming to mind is "bland". There's just not much flavor in these things. Of what flavor I can find, it's largely a salty flavor, and some smokiness. I taste nothing else.

I found one abberant strip that offered a disgusting taste resembling that of human blood. I found it while sucking off the surface flavors. If you've ever tasted your own blood, you know the taste I'm talking about. The aftertaste for most of these pieces, has a weaker version of that human blood taste.

Some of the other things mentioned in the ingredients list, like "beef" and "brown sugar", are not to be identified at all. There's no taste of meat in this, and I can't really find anything sweet. However, after several pieces, I do get a slight black pepper aftertaste.

After writing the above four paragraphs, I re-read my review of Lowrey's Big Beef - Hickory Smoked, to see if I had written the same thing, considering both Smokecraft and Lowrey's are made by the same company, and are both chopped & formed. Interestingly, I found that Lowrey's had a bit of a "beefy" taste, more similar to that of a meat stick. But with the Smokecraft brand, I can't say that at all. This has even less taste.

The nutrition facts label depicted at the bottom of this article is also different than that of Lowrey's, but keep in mind that the Lowrey's label is for a 39g serving, while the Smokecraft is for a 27g serving. Kinda tough to compare.

I'd say the dominant flavor of this jerky is a salty flavor, which itself is not really "too salty", probably low in salt intensity. The second dominant flavor is the smokiness. There is no third dominant flavor component that I can detect.

Meat Consistency

This a chopped & formed jerky, in widths of about 1/2 inch, and lengths of about 4 inches. The bag has a sticker on it that says "ends & pieces", and in fact I do find several smaller pieces in the bag. But most of the pieces are still full sized.

There's a moderate level of moisture in these strips, but I tend to think it's more of a greasiness. My fingers do pick up a fine film of oil when handling these things.

Note that the package is stamped, "Extra Tender". In truth, I don't see this jerky as being extra tender at all. It's not anymore tender than the Lowrey's Big Beef, and not anymore tender than most other chopped & formed jerky brands. But it's still easy to bite off a piece, and easy to chew, as far as jerky is concerned.

The chewing texture of these things don't provide any kind of steak-like experience, even after chewing a piece thoroughly. This stuff chews similarly to large streak of gristle. As I chew, it breaks up into smaller chunks, and each chew experiences a bit of rubbery, elastic feeling. Eventually it reduces down to a finer meal, but still doesn't resemble anything meat-like, more like tiny granules of gristle.

As a chopped & formed jerky, I don't find any tiny flecks of bone, cartilage, or hoof. It appears to be all soft tissue in here.

Snack Value

I paid $4.99 for this 10oz package at the Oh Boy! Oberto Factor Store in Seattle, WA. That works out to a price of $0.50 per ounce, making this a cheap buy.

For general jerky snacking purposes, at this price, it's a fair value. I don't find much snackability in this actually. There's little taste in this stuff, and the chewing texture is bad. It's largely a fair value only because you're getting 10 ounces of stuff at 50 cents an ounce. But you'll likely only get that value from the Oberto Factory Store. Anywhere else will cost you more, and in that case it's a bad value.

On the other hand, you might find yourself wasting money on this. I'm not sure anyone can tolerate all 10 ounces of this jerky, and like me you'll probably feed the rest to your dogs.


I'm giving this a dog treats rating.

I don't really find any snackability in this. I ate several pieces of this stuff only to do my due diligence in writing this review. First, there's very little taste in this to enjoy, and of what taste I got, it was just the salty and smoky flavors. And then there's that bad aftertaste.

And to make things worse, the chewing texture is more like gristle than meat.

Now I understand why when I do a Google search for "smokecraft jerky", I get so many listings for fundraisers. That's probably the only way you can sell this stuff.

A good beer with this is probably anything that can mask the aftertaste.

Rating: Dog Treats

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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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Monday, December 29, 2008

Mountain America Jerky - Alligator

Mountain America Jerky - AlligatorMountain America Jerky is a brand and jerky retailer based out of Denver, CO, offering a wide variety of exotic meat jerkies, including one of the handful that offers alligator jerky.

This is the first alligator jerky I've ever had, though I've had alligator in other dishes, mostly in stews and jamalayas. However, all of my previous gator eating has been in dishes with lots of sauces and spices, so I can't say I really got a good taste of what alligator tastes like. Gator is is a white meat, said to taste something similar to chicken, and frog's legs. Typically it's the tail that's used, since that's where much of the meat is.

Best I can tell, this particular jerky from Mountain America Jerky is 100% alligator; it hasn't been combined with beef, which is something you see with many exotic meat jerkies.


Alligator, brown sugar, soy sauce, water, salt, spices.


The flavors I pick up from the surface of these pieces is a strong meaty aroma, a good deal of smoky flavor, just a wee bit of sweet, and finally the black pepper starts coming in. In the chewing, I get more black pepper taste, a good deal of natural meat flavors, and some saltiness.

The taste of the alligator meat is very noticeable in this, and seems to make up the majority of the chewing flavor. I can't say that this tastes like chicken, but I can some similarities to chicken. It has a taste very much of its own. There is an aftertaste reminiscent of turkey, and maybe a wee bit of fishiness to it. For being preservative free, it seems to have a fresh taste.

The black pepper is another strong component, and dominates the palate after awhile. It's aftertaste is very strong. I'd say is the second-most dominant flavor, behind the natural meat flavors.

The salt intensity level is moderate, and probably accounts for the third-most dominant flavor overall.

The soy sauce listed in the ingredients lists is hardly noticeable, the same can be said for the brown sugar. It seems like there's some garlic in this also, I'm getting that garlic aftertaste.

Even though this jerky is not marked as a black peppered variety, it could easily pass as one, having a strong black pepper taste. But I think the natural meat flavors of alligator still come through stronger.

Meat Consistency

These appear to be chunks of whole meat, cut into bite sized pieces, similar to beef stew meat.

It's a semi-moist jerky, but not soft and tender. It's actually quite chewy, and a little hard in the first few chews. But it eventually hydrates and softens up nicely.

The chewing texture is very steak-like, very meaty, much like what you'd expect in a nugget of dried meat.

Each piece leaves behind a very thin layer of oily residue on my fingers. It's not to the point where I have to lick them clean, I can just rub my fingers together, and continue typing away. Other than that, it seems pretty clean eating.

I do see fragments of fatty tissue and connective tissue, but nothing chewy, and nothing foul tasting.

Snack Value

House of Jerky sells this Mountain America alligator jerky from its website at a price of $18.99 for two 1.75 oz packages. That works out to a price of $5.43 per ounce, making this a very expensive jerky. House of Jerky says that price also includes the shipping.

In this paragraph I normally talk about "general jerky snacking purposes", as a way to express how much snacking enjoyment you're going to get for your dollar, regardless of the type of meat. Considering how expensive this is, suffice to say it doesn't make sense to purchase this to appease the common snacking bug. However, I do find a good deal of snackability in this with its strong natural meat flavors and strong black pepper seasoning.

But as an alligator jerky, it's a great value. I say that only because this jerky provides a strong natural meat flavor. And considering how much you have to pay to get this, you definitely want to taste the alligator, and not just a bunch of seasonings. I haven't tried any other alligator jerky, and I don't know the market price for alligator, so I don't know if this truly is a good value. But if I wanted buy more alligator jerky, I at least know I can get some good alligator taste with this brand.


I'm giving this a good rating.

This being my first alligator jerky, I'm not sure I'm a fan just yet. There's a certain aftertaste to alligator jerky that doesn't quite sit well with me. Maybe I just need to try more brands and varieties.

I mostly rated this particular brand on its technical points. That is, it has a dominant natural meat flavor, and a strong flavor intensity. It's a little hard to chew at first, but its plentitude of surface flavors allows you to suck on a chunk first, and soften it up. I didn't feel justified in giving this the higher "best" rating only because I didn't find anything that wowed me. It's good jerky, and that's about it.

For all I know, Mountain America may have the very best alligator jerky in the world, but I won't know that until after I tried several other brands. Perhaps after I've done so, I'll be willing to review this particular brand again. But, considering how expensive alligator meat can be, at least you're getting a strong natural meat flavor in this jerky.

As for my beer recommendation, I think a wheat beer, or hezeweizen would work well with this.

Rating: Good

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Wednesday, December 24, 2008

Climax Jerky - Elk

Climax Jerky - Elk JerkyClimax Jerky is a brand based out of Dillon, CO, owned and operated by Brooke Comai. She got it started in 1998, selling jerky atop of Fremont Pass, some 11,000 ft above sea level where bicyclists, motorcyclists, and other tourists dared to brave the thin atmosphere.

As I continue to read forum posts across the Internet, it appears elk jerky is getting talked about more and more. People seem to believe that it provides a good balance between the gamey venison and the mild beef.

I had actually reviewed another elk jerky for Climax Jerky, it was their "smoked elk" which is actually a far different product than this standard elk jerky. This particular elk is Climax's "brisket cut", which Brooke describes as being more chewy. The smoked elk actually earned an award from Men's Journal magazine in July 2007 as the "best jerky in the country".

It'll be interesting to see how this brisket cut elk jerky stands in comparison.


Elk, water, salt, brown sugar, spices, soy powder, flavorings.


The tastes I pick up from the surface is a meaty aroma, and maybe smidgeon of sweet. Not much on the surface at all. In the chewing, I get some salty taste, and a good deal of meat flavors. I can detect some black pepper in the swallowing.

It's mostly the natural meat flavors that I taste in this jerky, with it's salty soy sauce marinade. It's not an overpowering meat flavor, but strong enough to be enjoyed. I don't get any gamey taste, just the great taste of elk.

The salt intensity in this is moderate. It's probably more salt than soy sauce. It seems to stay enough in the background not to overpower the elk taste.

There is a black pepper aftertaste that sits in the back of my mouth, but light.

Overall it's a good tasting jerky, though not necessarily a flavorful one. The flavor-intensity is light overall. The natural meat flavors provide the dominant taste, the salty flavor having a second-strongest flavor, and the black pepper with a faint and distant third.

Meat Consistency

These appear to be strips of whole meat, cut into widths of about 1/4 to 1/2 inches, and lengths of about 2-3 inches.

It's a semi-moist jerky, being rather soft and tender. It's not clearly as moist as Climax's Smoked Elk jerky, however. It's easy to tear apart, and even more easier to chew.

The chewing texture has a mushy consistency, almost like fried liver, but not quite as soft, and more fibrous. The jerky is actually quite chewy at first, but after several chews, with some hydration, it mushes up. Since I haven't eaten a lot of elk, this is perhaps more a character of elk than just this jerky.

It's pretty clean eating, it doesn't leave any fallen fragments or residue on my fingers. And it's very lean, seeing no pieces of fat or connective tissue.

Snack Value

Climax Jerky sells this elk jerky from its website at a price of $10.00 for a 3.5 ounce package. That works out to a price of $2.86 per ounce, making this an expensive buy.

For general jerky snacking purposes, at this price, it presents a fair value. I found it very snackable with its natural meat flavors, and easy-to-eat consistency. With the small one ounce review sample that I was given, it was tough to throttle myself down and eat this slowly.

As an elk jerky, it's a good value. It provides a moderate amount of natural meat flavors, with just barely enough seasonings in the salt and black pepper to give the meat some additional taste interest. Elk is always going to be more pricey than beef, so a price of $2.86 per ounce really isn't too bad.


I'm giving this a good rating.

It wins by putting focus on it's natural meat flavors, which is something you want to taste when eating an exotic meat jerky like elk. Combine that with its easy-to-eat consistency, and it makes for a very snackable jerky.

The only complaint I have is that the meat flavors are not strong enough for me, it's moderate at best. I need more! If the meat flavors were stronger, then the seasonings and marinade can be stronger to provide a very flavor-intense jerky.

In comparison to Climax's smoked elk jerky, this stuff is not as good, the flavor is not as intense. The smoked elk gives you more natural meat flavors than this stuff.

Well, I tend to agree with others that elk jerky is a pretty good alternative to beef. It's taste is substantially different than beef, unlike buffalo or ostrich, but not quite as gamey as with deer.

Perhaps a nice beer companion to this is an IPA.

Rating: Good

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Tuesday, December 23, 2008

Jerky Direct - Organic Beef Jerky - Sweet & Spicy

Jerky Direct - Organic Beef Jerky - Sweet & SpicyJerky 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 is manufactured by Intermountain Natural, LLC, based out of Idaho Falls, ID. In fact, the two companies were started by the same guy, Roger Ball. Ball also founded another direct marketing company, "Melaleuca", which sells health and wellness products.

All of Jerky Direct's products are manufactured by Intermountain Natural, the same company that makes meat snacks for Golden Valley Natural, as well as jerky for store brands like Trader Joe's and Whole Foods Market. I've reviewed jerky for all of those brands here on Best Beef Jerky, and it's all largely the same stuff, just different labeling. Though, I haven't had these "beef steak sticks" before.


Organic beef, organic evaporate cane juice, water, organic soy sauce, organic flavorings, organic apple cider vinegar, sea salt, organic paprika, natural smoke flavoring.


The tastes I pick up from the surface of these pieces is a good deal of sweet flavor, as well as a red pepper flavor, perhaps cayenne pepper. In the chewing, I get some salt flavor, and then some more of the sweet and red pepper flavor.

Right off the bat, this jerky does have a fair amount of spiciness, which I admit surprised me. I remembered eating some Golden Valley Natural, Sweet & Spicy beef jerky, which is also made by Intermountain Natural, and I expected this stuff from Jerky Direct to taste exactly like that. But it clearly has a more intense level of spiciness.

As a sweet & spicy variety I'd say it does live up to that billing. I get a medium-level of sweetness from the surface and throughout the chewing, while there is a clearly identifiable spiciness to this. It seems to taste more like cayenne pepper. On my "hot scale" I'd rate it as medium, though others might see it as medium-hot.

Considering this is organic beef jerky, I don't get any natural meat flavors. That's a disappointment in my book, for one because I really like getting lots of natural meat flavors in jerky, and two because with an organic beef product you'd expect to taste beef the way nature intended it to taste.

The salt intensity in this is rather light, just enough to be noticed.

The soy sauce listed in the ingredients is hardly noticeable.

Overall, the dominant flavor of this jerky seems to be the sweetness, with the spiciness being second-most dominant, and the light saltiness coming in third.

Meat Consistency

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

It's more on the dry side, but very much soft and tender. I found it easy to tear apart, and easy to chew.

The chewing texture has some steak-like, fibrous, quality to it, but just enough mushiness to remind you this isn't exactly steak.

In terms of cleanliness, this jerky leaves some tiny fragments on my lap, and it also leaves some powder on my fingers which I think might be the red pepper. But it's seems pretty lean; I found no pieces of fat, or chewy connective tissues.

Snack Value

Jerky Direct sells this organic sweet & spicy variety at a price of $12.00 for two 3oz bags. That works out to a price of $2.00 per ounce, putting this on the border between expensive and average.

For general jerky snacking purposes, at this price, it's a fair value. It has some snackability to it, but not a strong one. I can see myself reaching for more, but I don't see it difficult to resist. It doesn't offer an impressive taste, but just good enough to keep a jerky snacker pacified.

As a sweet & spicy variety, it presents a decent value because I do get a considerable amount of sweet and spicy flavors. It's only a decent value because of this higher $2.00 per ounce price. If priced lower, then the value becomes better and is worthwhile buying.


I'm giving this an average rating.

While it does have some snackability to it, it's not very snackable. It's not something that I find hard to resist. It's not a good tasting jerky, but it doesn't taste bad. Combined with the easy to eat consistency, it's just enough to keep me eating some more. But it's the fact that this jerky does a good job of living up to its sweet & spicy billing that strengthens the average rating.

Aside from that, the taste is somewhat bland. I don't get much flavor complexity out of this other than sugar, red pepper, and salt. The fact that there's no natural meat flavors in this forces this jerky to rely on that trio of seasonings, and well, it's just not an impressive collection of flavors.

The chewing texture is not exactly great either.

Overall, it's just enough to be snackable, but mostly satisfies as a sweet & spicy jerky, and nothing beyond that.

For a good companion beer with this, try a brown ale.

Rating: Average

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Thursday, December 18, 2008

Diva Chocolates - Mocha Java Beef Jerky

Diva Chocolates - Mocha Java Beef JerkyDiva Chocolates is a small privately held producer of foods that bridges the gap between chocolate and meat. Based in Clackamas, OR, the two-woman team of Julie Berlin and Heather Wyse got their start in 2006, releasing a line of chocolate-based grilling rubs for chicken, beef, and burgers.

The idea for the company goes back to a camping trip the two gals took with their families. They tried making a batch of brownies over an open fire, and knew it wouldn't bake totally right; they just wanted to see what would happen. They started dipping cookies and marshmallows into the hot gooey batter. Then they got creative and tried dipping their steaks into the stuff. The result was an eye-opening YUM!

The idea for chocolate flavored beef jerky came in 2007, a year after their company launched. The beef jerky itself appears to have been made by a Southern California company that makes the "Bach CUC" brand of jerky. I've never heard of that brand. The chocolate jerky line includes two flavors, "Kickin' Cocoa Bean" and this "Mocha Java".


Beef, sugar, seasoning blend (sugar, paprika, cocoa processed with alkali, ground mustard, salt, coffee, garlic and other spices), water, salt, citric acid. Treated with potassium sorbate solution.


The taste I get from the surface is a moderately sweet flavor, with a slight pungent or soapy taste (possibly from the coffee?). Moving into the chewing, I get more sweet flavor, and some natural meat flavors.

There is in fact a chocolately flavor to this, but it's clearly not a strong taste. It's light but still strong enough to be noticed throughout the chew. And as for the coffee, or "mocha java" flavor, it's a more faint flavor. In fact, I don't really taste anything in this resembling coffee.

However, the sweetness of this jerky is very evident. I'd rate it as the dominant flavor of this jerky. Diva Chocolates says on its marketing materials that when people taste samples of their jerky, they walk no more than 100 feet away and ask for more. I tend to think that people are mistaking the sugar for chocolate and mocha.

The meat itself has a medium-level natural meat flavor, which doesn't seem to overpower the chocolate seasoning. It has a taste similar to the outer portion of a prime rib. Several of the pieces here have some streaks of fat which provide a strong "beefy" flavor that overpowers everything. Otherwise, the natural meat flavors are light.

In terms of salt flavor intensity, I see it as light.

That slight pungent or soapy taste from the surface continues to be there across all the pieces. It should provide a nice contrast to the sugary smooth chocolate flavor, except that soapy taste tends to ruin the chocolate experience rather than enhance it.

Overall, the dominant flavor of this jerky is the sugary-sweet taste, with the chocolate taste being second most dominant, and the natural meat flavors being third most.

Meat Consistency

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

It's mostly a soft and tender style of jerky, perhaps a little more on the dry side. I found it easy to tear apart, and easy to chew.

The chewing texture is very steak-like once it hydrates in my mouth, resembling a well-done steak.

It's pretty clean eating, leaving no residue on my fingers, and no fragments on my lap. It's not necessarily a lean jerky, I found several pieces with visible streaks of fat. I didn't, however, see the fat as spoiling the overall taste, it actually gave off a more steak-like flavor. And I didn't find any chewy connective tissue in the way of tendon or gristle.

Snack Value

Diva Chocolates sells this Mocha Java Beef Jerky from their website at a price of $5.95 for a 2 ounce package. That works out to a price of $2.98 per ounce, making this a very expensive buy.

For general jerky snacking purposes, at this price level, it's a weak value. The meat itself does offer a good natural meat flavor, with a good chewing texture and easy-to-eat consistency. If you like sweet jerky, this is indeed rather sweet. But I don't necessarily find the seasonings to be all that snackable, it's the meat that seems to be more interesting.

As a "Mocha Java" beef jerky, it's a perhaps a great value only because this is the only jerky around that has this flavor. But even then, you're not going to get a strong taste of mocha java. You will get some some chocolately flavor, not a lot, and seemingly none of the coffee taste.


I'm giving this an average rating.

And I'm actually giving that average rating on the basis of the meat itself. The other flavorings seem ok, they're not bad, but nothing that really has me craving for more. It's the meat that actually makes this snackable with its bursts of beefy flavor coming from the small streaks of fat. It's a got a good chewing texture, and is easy to tear apart and chew.

This is actually a jerky for jerky lovers who want to get some chocolately taste, not for chocolate lovers who want chocolate. Because the chocolate taste was more subtle than anything, this jerky has to rely on its meat to win over jerky snackers. If it had more chocolatey flavor, then perhaps it could win people over on those merits, and actually cross over to the chocolate snackers.

I would have rather seen bite-sized chunks of meat covered in milk chocolate, like chocolate-covered pretzels. That would have generated an impressive presentation, and would have really pounded out the company's mission statement to combine chocolate with meat.

As for my beer recommendation, try a Young's Chocolate Stout!

Rating: Average

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Wednesday, December 17, 2008

Snackmasters Beef Jerky - Range Grown Original

Snackmasters Beef Jerky Snackmasters is a brand of jerky that's been hard for me to find in Southern California stores. But it's apparently well known and loved in Northern California. An advertiser who's been wanting to do some business with me on another website I run, learned of my beef jerky addiction and sent me a couple packages of Snackmasters as a way to earn my flavor.

Based out of Ceres, CA, in the heart of California's agricultural industry, the brand has been around since 1982, starting out as a producer of turkey jerky. In fact, the company claims that it was the first ever producer of turkey jerky. They claim to use no preservatives and no artificial ingredients in any of their products.

This particular variety of jerky I'm reviewing here is from their "Range Grown" line, utilizing "certified" beef raised without growth hormones, antibiotics or animal protein, and fed on pastureland grasses, grains and feeds that test free of pesticides and herbicides. They also offer another line of jerky that doesn't make these claims.


All natural beef, worcestershire sauce, soy sauce, liquid smoke, honey, vinegar, black pepper, spices.


The tastes I pick up from the surface is a moderate sweetness, a smoky flavor, and a slight saltiness reminiscent of the worcestershire sauce. In the chewing, I pick up a stronger worcestershire sauce taste, more of that sweet, hints of the soy sauce, some black pepper, and a faint garlic taste.

From what I've read about the Snackmasters brand, it's a flavorful jerky with a flavor that has won many taste awards. Well, I can honestly say that it is indeed very flavorful, with a good deal flavor intensity, as well as flavor complexity. And, it's a flavor that I find to be very delicious.

The taste of this jerky seems largely dominated by the worcestershire sauce, it's what I'd consider to be the top most noticeable flavor throughout the chewing. Second strongest is the sweetness from the honey, helping to provide a smooth contrast from the sharp bite of the worcestershire. The black pepper is what I'd rank as the third most dominant flavor, adding some depth to the overall flavor.

Largely absent, however is the natural meat flavors. I'm not really tasting anything that tells me this is beef. That's perhaps a disappointment since this particular variety is touted as being "range grown", without hormones and chemicals. I would have expected to get some great meat flavors. I did find one slightly thicker piece that seemed to have some of those flavors, but still we're talking slight. But being preservative free, it still tastes fresh.

The salt flavor intensity in this is moderate.

Here and there, I can pick up faint bits of other flavors, such as garlic, and the soy sauce, and one other spice that I can't quite identify, but I'm wondering might be oregano.

Meat Consistency

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

This is largely a dry jerky, though some pieces seems to have very slight amounts of moisture. But even as dry as this is, I found it rather easy to tear apart, and just as easy to chew.

The chewing texture is a very steak-like, fibrous character. Once it moistens up in my mouth, it chewed mostly like a well-done steak, maybe just a tad bit of mushiness.

I found one piece with a noticeable streak of fat, but otherwise the pieces looked very lean. I didn't find any pieces with tendon or gristle. However most of the pieces left behind small wads of chewy connective membrane in my mouth, but was easily swallowed.

In terms of clean eating, this jerky doesn't leave any residue on my fingers, but it does leave tiny meat fragments and chunks of black pepper on my lap.

Snack Value

Snackmasters sells this "range grown" original variety from its website at a price of $7.99 for a four ounce package. That works out to a price of $2.00 per ounce, putting this on the border between expensive and average.

For general jerky snacking purposes, it's a good value at this price. It's got a great deal of snackability I think with its delicious taste, intense flavor, and complex flavor. It's also easy to eat, despite its dry nature. I find it difficult to resist eating more.

As a "range grown" beef jerky, being free of hormones, antibiotics, chemicals, and fed mostly on pastureland grasses, you'd expect to get some great meat flavors. Instead you get none. For that matter, I don't think it's worth paying $7.99 for this "range grown" jerky, when you can pay $5.99 to get the company's regular beef jerky. Unless of course, it's an ideological thing about eating free range beef.


I'm giving this a good rating.

It was a teeter-totter decision between "best" and "good". First of all, this jerky doesn't offer any natural meat flavors, which is something I really want in a jerky. Therefore, it had to stand on the merits of its seasonings and marinade. But while they did combine together to provide a delicious taste, I had to decide if that taste was exceptional enough to be well beyond most jerkies.

I kept coming back to the thought that while this jerky tastes great, I've had many other jerkies that rated "good" with me, and those jerkies offered a great taste also. In other words, this jerky's taste is not well beyond other good-rated jerkies. It would have gotten that "best" rating had it offered a noticeable meat flavor.

But I'm just splitting hairs here. This "range grown" original variety from Snackmasters is still easily a delicious, flavor intense, and snackable jerky that I think you'll appreciate trying at least once.

My beer recommendation for this is a creamy, smooth stout.

Rating: Good

Buy this online:

Sunday, December 14, 2008

Pacific Gold - American Style Kobe

Pacific Gold - American Style KobeWhile visiting the Oh Boy! Oberto Factory Store in Seattle last month, I found this package of Pacific Gold - American Style Kobe Beef Filets. And just as with the Pacific Gold Turkey Tenders I reviewed last week, there's nothing on this package with the word "jerky". But obviously, that's what this is.

Kobe is a type of beef cattle bred and raised exclusively in Japan. It's derived from the Wagyu breed of cattle, and fed a diet of sake and beer. They also receive regular massages, and fed only Japanese-grown grain. The result is the most marbilized beef in the world.

This particular jerky, however, contains "American Style Kobe", which is the Americanized version of Kobe. Back in 2001, the US prohibited all beef imports from Japan due to the mad cow disease. As a result, all kobe beef sold in the States is not technically real Kobe beef. US cattle growers were able to crossbreed the Wagyu with the Black Angus so that they could mass produce kobe-style beef and make it available at a lower price.

According to the literature on the package, Pacific Gold obtained some of this beef in a limited supply and turned it into jerky. There's no advertised flavor on this package either, except only "seasoned and smoked".


American style kobe beef, brown sugar, flavorings, corn syrup, apple juice, salt, hydrolyzed soy protein, hickory smoke flavor, sodium nitrite.

Note: this is the first Pacific Gold variety I've seen that includes sodium nitrite.


The tastes I pick up off the surface of these pieces is a sweet flavor, a meaty aroma, and a smoky flavor. There's also a slight oily feel in my mouth. In the chewing, I get some salty taste, and a hint of black pepper.

Right off the bat, the thought that comes to mind is how bland this tastes. When looking at and smelling this jerky, I got the opposite sense, that it would be brimming with flavor. But it's not.

Since kobe beef is known for its luxurious taste, I would expect to get a great taste of meat in this. But I don't get any. Ok, maybe I do get a smidgeon of "beef" flavor, but I tend to think that comes from the higher-degree of fat marbilization. Otherwise, I don't taste the meat itself.

The flavor that seems to dominate this jerky is the sweetness. It's strong enough that Pacific Gold should have perhaps labeled this as "sweet & smoked" filets instead of using the word "seasoned". It's pretty much the flavor I taste throughout the entire chew. The smoky flavor is also strong, but second to the sweet. There is indeed a seasoned flavor in this, but it would be the third strongest flavor. It's actually slight, but is noticed in the back of my mouth, mostly as a black pepper taste. I think there may actually be some garlic in this also.

As far as saltiness is concerned, it seems light. It's definitely noticeable when I think about it, but it's light enough that my brain seems to have tuned it out and I'm left focusing on the sweet, smoky, and lightly seasoned taste.

Meat Consistency

These appear to be slices of whole meat, sliced in medium thickness, and in small, medium, and large pieces. There's also a lot of crumbled pieces in the bottom of the bag.

Note that this bag has a sticker on it that says, "ends & pieces".

This is a soft and tender style of jerky, with a good deal of moisture. Or actually, it might be oiliness. It's easy to tear apart, and easy to chew.

The chewing texture is not all that steak-like. It's got a fibrous quality, but also somewhat mushy, perhaps due to the higher degree of oiliness. When I chew it, it reduces down to a mushy meal.

I also found a good deal of chewy connective tissue, like tendon, or gristle. I'm not exactly sure what it is. There are several pieces however, that appear to be free of this stuff.

And in terms of cleanliness, it's leaves some oily residue on my fingers, enough that it requires some licking off before touching anything else. There is a good deal of fine meat fragments covering these pieces, but the oiliness seems to prevent them from falling off.

Snack Value

I paid $4.99 for this 7 ounce bag at the Oh Boy! Oberto Factory Store in Seattle, WA. That works out to a price of $0.71 per ounce, putting this into the cheap price range.

For general jerky snacking purposes, that low of a price makes this a good buy. You won't get a lot of flavor out of this, you won't get a great meat consistency, and even a lackluster chewing texture, but on the other hand it's not bad. At $0.71 per ounce, a jerky has to be pretty bad to be a waste of money.

But as an "American Style Kobe" variety, it's a fair value at best. And again, that's only because of the price. If you find this at a higher price, it becomes a poor value. That's because this has no natural meat flavors to it. When you see "kobe beef", you always think of some of the world's best tasting beef. If you're looking for some really great tasting meat, this'll be a waste of money.

I'll condition all that by reminding you of the "Ends & Pieces" sticker on the bag. Perhaps this contains all the rejected pieces. In that case, it may not be a fair review.


I'm giving this a fair rating.

This jerky does have some snackability, but it's not very snackable. For the most part, it's a bland tasting jerky, with the sweet and smoky flavor being the two most dominant. The seasonings in this are light, and are not strong enough to be enjoyed on their own. Aside from that, that's all the taste this jerky offers.

For being an American Style Kobe beef, you'd expect to get some really good natural meat flavors. I mean, the whole point of having kobe beef is to get that exquisite meat flavor. In that sense, this jerky is a huge disappointment.

The subpar meat consistency and lackluster chewing texture could all be written off because of the "Ends & Pieces" sticker on the bag. Perhaps these are just the rejected pieces. Therefore, I didn't take the consistency and texture into account when assigning the fair rating.

What we're basically left with is a bland jerky that doesn't live up to its kobe beef expectations.

A good beer variety with this would be an IPA.

Rating: Fair

Visit Pacific Gold online:

Saturday, December 13, 2008

Climax Jerky - Peppered

Climax Jerky - PepperedClimax Jerky is a brand and retailer of jerky based out of Dillon, CO. Founded in 1998, it's a family run business headed up by Brooke Comai. The company sells direct to consumers at various tourist hot spots around Colorado, and through their website.

For review here, is the peppered "premium cut" variety. Climax appears to have two varieties of beef jerky, an all natural line of brisket cut jerky, and this "premium cut", which is not sold as "all natural". This premium cut peppered, and the premium cut teriyaki are two of Climax's biggest sellers.

Upon opening the bag there is a strong smoky aroma that escapes.


Beef, sugar, water, soy sauce, flavorings, apple cider vinegar, salt, paprika, smoke flavorings, citric acid.


The tastes I pick up from the surface is a slight sweetness, some smokiness, some saltiness, and a bit of the black pepper. In the chewing, I get a bit of the natural meat flavors, more of the sweet, and more of the salty.

It's got a good deal of flavor intensity in each piece, and overall a great taste. There's a fair amount of flavor complexity as well, with the sweet, smoky, salty, and pepper flavors, all with a fair to strong level of taste.

As a peppered variety, I do taste some black pepper, but not much. First, there's nary any black pepper to be seen on these pieces. When I do get a taste, I think it's mostly due to biting into a speck of black pepper. For the most part, the jerky doesn't really have a clear black pepper taste.

The natural meat flavors in this are also weak. I'm only able to pick them up by first sucking a piece for several seconds, and then chewing down. When I just pop it into my mouth and chew right away, I don't identify the natural meat flavors. But for being preservative free, it seems to have a fresh taste.

The level of saltiness in this seems average, it's a well pronounced taste, but I don't really see it as too salty. I did find one piece to be quite a bit more salty than the others.

Overall, this jerky is largely dominated by a 50/50 combination of sweet and smoky flavor, followed by the salty flavor. I can't really say the black pepper, nor the natural meat flavors, have any kind of dominant taste.

Meat Consistency

This appears to be slices of whole meat, sliced in medium thickness, and in small to medium sized pieces.

It would largely fall into the "soft and tender" style of jerky, though maybe a tad on the dry/tough side. Still, it's easy to tear apart, and easy to chew. There's maybe a very slight bit of moisture in this.

The chewing texture has some steak-like characteristics to it, mostly fibrous. It's clear to me that I'm eating meat, though it has that softened quality that you find in most soft and tender style jerkies. It's not really mushy or gummy at all.

It's largely a clean eating jerky, leaving behind no residue on my fingers or fragments on my lap. I did see some streaks of fat on some pieces (see photos below), but I didn't find any tendon or gristle.

Snack Value

Climax Jerky sells this peppered beef jerky from their website at a price of $8.00 for a 4 ounce bag. That works out to a price of $2.00 per ounce, putting this on the border between expensive and average.

For general jerky snacking purposes, it's a decent value because I did find a great taste in this, with a good deal of flavor intensity, and a decent flavor complexity. The meat chewing texture is decent, and the overall meat consistency seems good. I did find myself wanting to eat more and more, though I only had a small 1.5 ounce package, and it could be the level of saltiness may build up stronger over the course of a 4 ounce package.

As a peppered jerky, it's a poor value because at this higher range, I didn't really get much black pepper taste. While I did experience a burst of pepper flavor, it's mostly due to biting into a black pepper fleck. To me, the level of peppery flavor in this is about on par with most "original" varieties of jerky. A jerky advertised as "peppered" ought to have a well-pronounced black pepper flavor.


I'm giving this an average rating.

Overall, it's a snackable jerky. If you can ignore the "peppered" advertisement, you'll still find this having great taste with its strong sweet, smoky, and moderately salty flavor. And then here and there, you'll still experience a burst of black pepper flavor. And I did enjoy the good amount of surface flavors on this as well. The chewing texture and overall meat consistency lends this jerky a good chewing satisfaction.

But I didn't find much of anything in this jerky that said it was above average. If anything, I'd put it on the higher end of average. If I had a scale of 1-10, then I'd rate as six stars. But since I only have a 1-5 scale, it's three stars. The fact that it doesn't really stand up as a peppered jerky, hurts it's rating.

On the other hand, if you prefer lightly peppered jerky, then you might want to try this out.

Still, it's a good jerky for general snacking. You'll find a good overall flavor, and a good chewing experience.

My beer recommendation with this is a porter.

Rating: Average

Buy this online:

Friday, December 12, 2008

Jerky Snackability

Yesterday, I was talking to some friends of mine when one of them asked me about my weight loss, and I told them about all the jerky I had been eating. The conversation eventually migrated into a discussion on what constitutes "good jerky". I ended up describing "snackability" to them.

Snackability is my way of measuring how well a jerky satisfies your urge to snack. When a jerky is very snackable, you find yourself wanting more and more. It's a combination of taste and chewing pleasure, where you crave the flavor and love the way it chews, that you can't keep your hands off of it.

A jerky can still be snackable if the meat consistency is tough, but only if the taste is so good that you have to have more. It could also be the other way around where the taste is average, but it's so easy to eat that you can down it quickly.

A good taste and a good chewing texture are still subjective to the jerky snacker. Therefore, snackability is also subjective. But then again, most of us don't buy jerky so that we can nibble it like brie on melba toast. I think jerky taps into an instinct passed down to us by our cave-dwelling ancestors to grab a piece of flesh with our hands, tear it with our teeth, and replenish our bodies with nutrients from the kill.

I think jerky ought to be that kind of snack, though you're certainly welcome to extend your pinky finger while nibbling your piece of dried beef.

As I've said many times on this blog, snackability has the greatest weight in assigning ratings. Jerky is a snack food, and therefore should satisfy as a snack. You could certainly eat jerky as if it were a meal, but for the 99% of us, we eat jerky as something to snack on while doing something else, be it typing on computer, driving down the road, watching television, or sitting on a mountain peak after a long climb.

Snackability could be compromised by a variety of factors...

* Too salty - too much salty taste in jerky eventually leaves my mouth feeling scorched, and I can't handle eating any more it.

* Bland taste - a jerky with little flavor complexity ends up becoming boring. I like jerky with lots of flavors to keep me thinking about what I'm tasting.

* Toughness - a jerky that's tough to chew will eventually make my jaws tired. But if the jerky has a lot of surface flavor, I can suck on it for awhile, and let it soften up before chewing.

* Connective tissue - jerky with too much tendon and gristle is a big turn off for me. A "good jerky" should demand that meat processors take the time to remove this stuff.

* Stale meat flavor - if the natural meat flavors taste stale, rank, or slightly rancid, it loses snackability. The exception is if there's enough seasoning and marinade to overcome that taste.

When I created this website, I did some Googling for criteria on what defines "good jerky", and I couldn't find any. So I created my own set of criteria. This article doesn't really cover all that, perhaps I'll write another article on that alone.

But because I've used the word "snackability" in my reviews many times, I wanted to go into detail what I mean by it. I imagine the manufacturers and brands have their own words to describe this.

Tuesday, December 9, 2008

Buffalo Bill's - Dead Meat - Troi Oi Teriyaki

Buffalo Bill's - Dead Meat - Troi Oi Teriyaki"Dead Meat" is a new line of jerky from Buffalo Bill's sold only in one pound bags. The Buffalo Bill's brand is owned by Lebanon, PA-based Choo Choo R Snacks, Inc, a meat snack company that's been in business since 1990.

Paul Squires, President of the company, says this new line is their answer to all the other one-pound jerky offerings hitting the marketplace. The one-pound bags seems to be a way to reach the dedicated meat snacker with a lower price-per-ounce, but at a cost of meat quality as well. This particular Dead Meat line is no different, with Squires describing it as being similar to their Premium line, but a little more chewy.

The company plays up the concept of "mass quantities" with masculine graphics, depicting their trademark Buffalo Bill character decked out with military garb, holding machine guns and hand grenades. Even the words "Dead Meat" is an in-your-face way of describing beef jerky. This ain't politically correct stuff here, but then again, we're talking about a full pound of chew.


Beef, teriyaki sauce, brown sugar, water, garlic powder, black pepper, onion powder, liquid smoke, sodium nitrite.

Sprayed with potassium sorbate solution.


The tastes I pick up from the surface of these pieces is a slight sweet flavor, and some teriyaki aroma wafting around in my mouth. There's also a slight smoky flavor. Moving into the chewing, I pick up some natural meat flavors, and some saltiness.

Overall, it's a bland tasting jerky, with mostly the natural meat flavors that stand out. I do pick up a teriyaki flavor, but it's a light flavor that fades away well before the swallowing. Though I did find a piece here and there with more concentrated teriyaki flavor, most of the pieces are light on teriyaki taste.

The natural meat flavors are easily detected, but not a strong flavor. I tend to taste it more if I let a piece sit in my mouth for several seconds, and then start chewing. It has a slightly stale taste, with a few pieces here and there tasting more stale. Overall, it's still edible, but clearly not fresh tasting.

By comparison, the company's "Snafu Spicy" variety, which is also part of the Dead Meat line, has enough red pepper and sugar flavor to help mask the stale meat flavor. Because this Troi Oi Teriyaki variety is light on teriyaki taste, the stale meat flavor stands out more.

In fact, that Snafu Spicy seems to be more sweet than this Troi Oi Teriyaki. You'd think that with teriyaki, you'd get plenty of sweet flavor. And in fact, I do pick up a good deal of sweet taste in this, but it still seems like the Snafu Spicy was more sweet.

The salt flavor in this tastes light. The garlic and onion is also detectable, but in small enough amounts to sit in the background and enhance the overall flavor.

Otherwise, the dominant flavor of this jerky is the natural meat flavors, albeit a slightly stale meat flavor, with the light teriyaki flavor being second strongest, with the garlic and onion background being third strongest.

Meat Consistency

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

It's slightly moist jerky, but what I'd classify overall as dry. Some pieces are more moist. Chewy is perhaps a good way to describe the meat consistency. Tearing apart a piece does require a bit of effort, but not too bad overall. If you eat several pieces of this stuff, your jaws will get a work out.

The chewing texture has a steak-like character, but clearly more chewy than a real steak. It's got the fibrous quality like a steak, but with a tad bit of elasticity to make it chewy.

It's very clean jerky, leaving no residue on my fingers and no fragments on my lap.

But it's not necessarily a lean jerky. Several pieces had some visible bits of fat to some lesser or greater degree. I also found a decent amount of pieces with gristle. In fact, I found one small piece that was mostly all tendon, and spat out completely.

Snack Value

Buffalo Bill's sell this Troi Oi Teriyaki variety from their website at a price of $17.99 for a 16 ounce bag. That works out to price of $1.12 per ounce, putting this into the average price range, but down towards the cheaper end.

For general jerky snacking purposes, it presents a decent value. While it's not a great tasting jerky, it's decent, and the meat consistency is fair, the lower price point is what gives this any snacking value. The taste is snackable enough that I did find myself reaching for more, but not necessarily inspired to eat more.

As a teriyaki variety, it's a weak value. Even at this lower price, it's not much of a value because I don't get a lot of teriyaki taste. There is some noticeable teriyaki flavor, but if I were a teriyaki jerky lover, I'd feel as if I were stuck with a one pound bag of teriyaki inadequacy. Interestingly, this might be a better value in smaller quantities, just so you won't end up with several ounces of uneaten jerky.


I'm giving this a fair rating.

In searching for this jerky's best quality, it's snackable. But it's not very snackable. While it did have me reaching for more, I didn't feel inspired to eat more. The flavor was decent enough to be snackworthy, but not good enough to crave.

There is some identifiable teriyaki taste in this, but it's light and doesn't really provide a dominant flavor. That's not necessarily a game breaker if a jerky can provide plenty of natural meat flavors. And while this jerky does provide some of those flavors, it's slightly on the stale side, with a few pieces having a stronger "turned" taste. Perhaps if the teriyaki was stronger, sweeter, and tastier, it could mask some of that old flavor.

The meat consistency wasn't all that great either, though still not too bad overall. The pieces of fat, which were mostly small bits, I could tolerate and actually enjoy. But the gristle and tendon is something I can't tolerate much of. Again, had the teriyaki flavor been stronger and better, it could have been enough to make me overlook the meat consistency.

But keep in mind this jerky designed for its price point, not necessarily to please the discriminating palate. But even at its price point, the taste and consistency of this jerky leaves me feeling uninspired to eat the rest of the contents. Considering you're buying a full pound of this stuff, you could end up eating only a few ounces, and allowing the rest to go bad. That may actually hurt it's snack value.

But then again, that's why we have dogs.

As for that beer recommendation, just a simple, normal brown ale would taste good with this.

Rating: Fair

Buy this online:

Sunday, December 7, 2008

Pacific Gold - Turkey Tenders - Teriyaki

Pacific Gold - Turkey Tenders - TeriyakiPacific Gold is a popular brand of jerky, currently produced by Oh Boy! Oberto. The brand originally got its start in 1985 based out of Hayward, CA. The company got its early success from supplying its teriyaki beef jerky into Price Club in 1986. Over the next 12 years, they were able to get their products into several locations, and grew the business to 300 employees. Eventually, the fruits of their labor beckoned too great, and they sold the company to an investor group, who later sold it to Oberto.

If you look at Pacific Gold's website, they don't actually list this "Turkey Tenders" product. In fact, the packaging doesn't even use the word jerky. Instead they describe it as smoked turkey breast, though it's clearly jerky.

I haven't seen this Turkey Tenders product in any stores; I found it at the Oh Boy! Oberto Factory Store in Seattle. I don't know if this is a very new product, or if it's a very old product. But, Pacific Gold already markets a turkey jerky, in a different looking bag, with the words "turkey jerky".


Turkey breast, soy sauce, brown sugar, worcestershire sauce, corn syrup, sugar, pineapple juice, flavorings, salt, natural hickory smoke flavor.


The tastes I pick up from the surface is a sweetness, and a faint bit of smoky. Moving into the chewing, I pick up some saltiness, and more sweetness, and something similar to soy sauce. I do get a teriyaki flavor.

If anything strikes me with this teriyaki turkey tenders, it's that it tastes very much like Oberto's own turkey jerky. I don't have a bag of Oberto's turkey jerky to do a side-by-side comparison, but I've had their turkey jerky and I want to say that this tastes exactly the same. The meat consistency looks exactly the same also.

As a teriyaki variety, I suppose there is indeed a teriyaki flavor to this, but nothing what I'd consider geniune teriyaki sauce. But it does have the combination of sweet and soy sauce that do seem to fuse together as teriyaki, and it even has that slight pungent taste that normally comes from ginger.

I don't really taste the natural turkey meat flavors in this, but I do get an aroma of turkey meat, if that makes sense. That is, I don't pick up any turkey flavors on my taste buds, instead I pick up the aroma that moves into the back of my mouth, and are picked up by the smell receptors in my sinuses. Or maybe, I'm just over-analyzing this. Either way, there is a turkey flavor to enjoy here, but not necessarily as taste.

I can also see tiny flecks of black on these pieces, perhaps black pepper, but I don't necessarily taste that on a single piece. I do get a slight aftertaste through eating several pieces, but just slight.

Overall, this jerky is dominated by a teriyaki flavor, with the salty flavor coming in second, and not much else after that.

Meat Consistency

These appear to be slices of whole meat, sliced into average thickess, and in small, medium, and large sizes. Several of the pieces in this bag are large, perhaps slices of full breast.

This is a soft and tender jerky, being somewhat moist. It's easy to tear apart, and fairly easy to chew.

The chewing texture of this stuff is similar to dry turkey breast. Though it's not really dry like a roasted turkey breast. There's a chewiness to it, but still with some sense of being turkey meat.

For the most part, it's clean eating, with no residue on my fingers and nothing falling into my lap. It's also pretty lean, I don't see any pieces of fat, tendon, gristle, or connective tissue.

Snack Value

I paid $6.99 for this 8 ounce bag at the Oh Boy! Oberto Factory Store in Seattle, WA. That works out to a price of $0.87 per ounce, making this a cheap purchase.

For general jerky snacking purposes, it's a great value. This has a decent flavor, though not a great one. Yet, it's still good enough to be snackable. It's easy to eat, and still seems to have a chewing texture similar to turkey breast. At that low of a price, all it needs is to be snackable to be a great value.

As a teriyaki jerky, it's a good value. I do get a teriyaki flavor, but not close to tasting like real teriyaki sauce. It's just enough teriyaki flavor to make this turkey jerky enjoyable, and at this low of a price, it's enough to make it worth the buy.


I'm giving this an average rating.

It's basically snackable, but I don't really see anything in this above average. You get a decent teriyaki taste, though not a great one, or even a good one. That's largely all you get out of it in terms of flavor. Not much in natural turkey meat flavors, or any other spices.

It does have a decent turkey meat chewing texture, and it is easy to eat, but that just makes it snackable. Perhaps if the teriyaki flavoring tasted more like real teriyaki sauce, and the meat had more natural meat flavors, this could have gotten a "good" rating.

Even as a dieting snack, it's a little high on the carbs.

For a good companion brew, try a wheat beer, hefeweizen.

Rating: Average

Where to buy:
  • Oh Boy! Oberto Factor Store, Seattle, WA.