Pacific Gold is a brand that's been around since 1985, originally under a company called Pacific Sun Industries, based in Hayward, CA. It grew rather quickly based on getting their teriyaki beef jerky into the Price Club chain of warehouse retailers. In 12 years they eventually grew to 300 employees, and had created a cult following throughout the west coast.
In 1993, when Costco took over Price Club, the Pacific Gold brand became a familiar sight to meat snackers shopping in Costcos all over the USA, and quickly found itself a key competitor of Oh Boy! Oberto. And Oberto, desiring to dominate the warehouse market, eventually purchased Pacific Gold in 2002.
While Oberto still markets the teriyaki jerky that made Pacific Gold famous, the recipe has changed greatly since then, but still seems to enjoy its base of loyal followers. Oberto also now uses the Pacific Gold brand to experiment with niche markets, with unique flavors like its American Style Kobe, and Turkey Tenders.
Beef, brown sugar, apple juice, spices, salt, corn syrup, hydrolyzed soy protein, hickory smoke flavoring, flavorings, sodium nitrite.
The flavors I pick up from the surface of these pieces include a slight sweet flavor, a chile pepper flavor, a moderate level of spicy burn, and a smoky flavor. In the chewing, I pick up a bit of saltiness, and perhaps a bit more smoky flavor.
Right off the bat, this jerky seems to possess more surface flavor than chewing flavor. If you were to chew a piece right away, what you'd actually taste is the surface flavors mixing itself into the chewing. The flavors inside the meat are devoid of taste.
This jerky does seem to live up to is billing as a hot & spicy variety. I'd rate the level of spicy burn as a medium. Some pieces seem to have a higher concentration of red chile pepper, and I'd rate that as a medium-hot. Lesser adapted tongues will probably just see this as "hot". Just a couple pieces into this jerky and I'm feeling tiny drops of sweat percolating up through my scalp.
But aside from the spicy burn of the chile pepper, I can also pick up the unique flavor of the chile peppers as well, particularly from the surface flavors.
The sweet flavor I described is defintely there and easily discernable, but it's not an overpowering flavor. It seems to keep a backseat to the chile pepper flavor.
The level of salt intensity seems light.
I don't really know if there are any natural meat flavors to enjoy in this. In that very first piece I tasted, I thought maybe I tasted a hint of meat flavors, but I really couldn't be certain. As I continue to eat more pieces of this stuff, I want to say that I can taste it, but I just can't seem to be absolute. Suffice to say, you're not going to get much meat flavors out of this. But unlike the teriyaki variety I reviewed before, I don't find a stale taste in this. It seems rather fresh.
Overall, the chile pepper taste and burn is what dominates the flavor of this jerky, followed by the sweet as the second-most dominant flavor, and a tie between the salty-smoky flavor as the third.
These appear to be slices of whole meat, sliced into medium to thick thickness, and in small to medium sized pieces.
It's perhaps best to call this a dry jerky, but there's clearly some noticeable moisture to this. I found the pieces to tear apart rather easily, and is rather easy to chew.
The chewing texture seems mostly steak-like, with just a tad bit of mushy to it. However, it's still mostly a fibrous, steak-like chewing quality.
In tearing apart pieces, I found fragments falling into my lap, and pieces of chile pepper too. But it doesn't leave any residue on my fingers.
I didn't find any visible amounts of fat on these pieces, however most pieces contained some kind of chewy connective tissue, more similar to the membranous tissues that connect grains of meat together. Some of this stuff remained in mouth after chewing as small little wads, but could be easily swallowed.
I paid $4.99 for this 8 ounce bag at the Oh Boy! Oberto Factory Store in Seattle, WA. That works out to a price of $0.62 per ounce, putting this into the cheap price range.
For general jerky snacking purposes, at this low of a price, it's an excellent value. I do get a lot of snackability out of this that keeps me reaching for more and more. The fact that it's easy to eat and it's good chewing texture helps out. While the Factory Store that I bought this from obviously sells jerky at a highly discounted price, I think it'll still be a decent-to-good value anywhere else you might find it.
As a hot & spicy variety, it's also an excellent value considering this low price. But even at a higher price, I'd still call at least a good value because it does indeed live up to its hot & spicy billing. Not only do I get the spicy burn from the chile peppers, I can even taste their flavor.
I'm giving this a good rating.
I really enjoyed the hot & spicy flavors of this hot & spicy variety from Pacific Gold. Albeit, I'm partial to spicy jerky anyways, so it's not hard to impress me with stuff like this. On the other hand, this jerky wins because it punches out the flavor and burn of the chile pepper quite well. Compare that to other "hot & spicy" jerkies that are not really hot & spicy at all.
And this jerky also provides a good deal of flavor intensity, as well as plenty of surface flavors encouraging you to suck on a piece instead of chewing right away.
But aside from providing a flavor that I really liked, this jerky still doesn't have anything that wowed me. I think it's an above average jerky with its strong chile pepper flavor, easy-eating, and good chewing texture, but nothing that abducts me and hauls me up into outer space.
Perhap if it could retain more of the natural meat flavors, I'd feel compelled to give it a best rating.
My beer recommendation is a creamy, smooth stout.
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