Richland Valley is a brand of jerky belonging to Core-Mark International, one of the world's largest distributors of goods to convenience stores. Their jerky is most commonly found at truck stops and gas stations all across the country.
I had contacted Core-Mark to learn more about this brand, and while they acknowledged owning this brand, they wouldn't say anything else, arguing that they didn't know who I was. Even though I explained who I was and my purpose for asking, they couldn't say anything without executive approval, and without me jumping through several hoops.
My guess is that the Richland Valley brand of jerky is something they created to offer their convenience store owners an array of goods in a packaged bundle, and at a lower cost than if they included Oberto and Jack Link's.
The actual manufacturer of this jerky is Jerky Snack Brands, of Minong, WI. However when I talked to Jerky Snack Brands, they said they no longer make jerky for this brand.
Beef, water, sugar, salt, flavorings, monosodium glutamate, black pepper, sodium erythorbate, sodium nitrite.
The tastes I pick up from the surface of these pieces includes a slight smoky flavor, a slight sweet flavor, and a slight salty flavor. I do get a good deal of black pepper flavor, but only after sucking on a piece for several seconds. In the chewing, I taste more saltiness.
The black pepper gets rather strong the more I eat this. I don't really taste it on the surface, except if I suck on a piece for 10-15 seconds, then it starts to kick in. If I were to chew on a piece immediately after putting it into my mouth, I can get the black pepper taste more quickly as I bite into the pepper corns.
This is another one of those jerkies that doesn't seem to have much chewing flavor. Most of the flavor is on the surface, and tends to get mixed into the chewing.
As for being a peppered jerky, I do get a great deal of black peppery taste, and it certainly seems to stand up to that advertised flavor. It seems to be the dominant taste of this jerky.
The second-most dominant flavor is hard to pin down, mostly because the black pepper is very strong in this jerky. I could probably put it on the slight sweetness, or the slight smokiness, or even the slight saltiness, but then again, those are only slight flavors, and don't really dominate at all. But between those three, the sweet seems to be the stronger.
As for the natural meat flavors, there aren't any. I don't taste anything in this that resembles the natural flavors of beef.
Overall, this jerky has a strong flavor intensity, but almost entirely a black pepper flavor. There's just enough of the other flavors to notice, but I'm largely tasting black pepper.
These appear to be slices of whole meat, sliced at a medium thickness, and in small to medium sized pieces. I also note about three pieces that appear to be chopped & formed. They tear apart like chopped & formed, and even the pepper corns are embedded inside the jerky pieces, just like a chopped & formed jerky. I'm not sure what's going on with that.
This is a dry jerky, and even has a bit of brittleness to it. That's unlike the original variety of Richland Valley that I reviewed a few days ago, which I still found dry, but much more flexible. But this peppered variety still seems easy to tear apart, and fairly easy to chew.
The chewing texture is much more meat-like than the original variety. It's not as rubbery or gummy, and doesn't require as much chewing effort. It seems to have a more fibrous nature too. But this could all be just differences in the various batches.
It's pretty clean eating, as I don't pick up any residue on my fingers, and thus far I haven't dropped any pepper corns or meat fragments on my lap.
It also seems pretty lean; I don't find any bits of fat, or any chewy connective tissues.
I paid $4.99 for this 3.65oz bag at a Shell Station in Menifee, CA. That works out to a price of $1.38 per ounce, putting this into the average price range.
For general jerky snacking purposes, at this price, it appears to be a good value. I'm getting some good snackability from this with its strong flavor intensity, albeit almost entirely a black pepper flavor. There's still enough of the other flavors to maintain some taste-interest. It's still fairly easy to eat, and the chewing texture in this particular batch seems good.
As a black peppered jerky, and at this price, it's an excellent value, because I'm getting tons of black pepper flavor. If you really like peppered jerky, then you've found Heaven. Otherwise, you might find yourself rubbing the excess pepper corns off of these pieces, they can be rather intense.
I'm giving this an average rating.
While this jerky stands up to its black peppered advertisement, that's pretty much it's strongest point. Otherwise, I don't really find this jerky to be above average. It offers no natural meat flavors, and only slight amounts of sweet, salty, and smoky flavors. Just tons of black pepper flavor is really all I'm getting from this.
I do find an average amount of snackability in this, however. Albeit, I'm someone who likes black peppered jerky anyways, and it does have just enough of the other flavors to maintain a satisfying curiosity.
On the other hand, when I think about the 80% of jerky sitting on store shelves, like the Oberto, the Jack Link's, the Bridgford, this particular jerky is right on par with it. Whatever the reasons why Core-Mark created Richland Valley jerky, they have something that tastes, chews, and looks just as good as the other big brands.
My beer recommendation for this, a cherry or raspberry lambic.
Where to buy:
- At gas stations and convenience stores