Sunday, February 15, 2009

Caveman Jerky - Original Black Pepper

Caveman Jerky - Original Black PepperCaveman Jerky is the brand name of Caveman Jerky, Inc., of Oakview, CA. The business was started about 3 years ago by a guy named Noah Staggs. He actually started the business up in Grants Pass, OR where his family is from. He uses an old family recipe that dates back to 1908.

The name "Caveman Jerky" originates from the Oregon Caves National Monument, located just outside of Grants Pass. Back during the early 20th century, local businessmen tried to promote tourism to Grants Pass by dressing up as cavemen and performing zany antics. You could even do caveman-themed weddings. The town received so much publicity through newsreels and magazines that several local businesses tried to capitalize by adding the word "caveman" to their name (Caveman Hotel, Caveman Market, etc...) The name "Caveman Jerky" is an homage to that time.

The company makes jerky at their own in-house facility, with Noah doing all the manufacturing, and his wife doing the packing, package design, order fulfillment, and website.


Beef, water, salt, spices, sugar, garlic powder, hydrolyzed soy protein.


The flavors I pick up from the surface of these pieces starts with a meaty aroma, with some saltiness coming along 2-3 seconds later, and after about 10-15 seconds some black pepper comes into view. In the chewing, more saltiness comes first, followed by some natural meat flavors, and a bit more black pepper.

Right away the first thing I notice is that this jerky has a homemade taste and aroma. It's similar to the Tom's Farms Jerky that I reviewed several months ago, similar seasonings, similar texture, but without the catfish flavor.

The flavor that I tend to taste the most throughout sucking and chewing this jerky is the saltiness. I'd rate it as moderate in terms of intensity. It seems there's some salt granules sprinkled on the surface that punch out a strong flavor right away, but there's also saltiness inside the meat itself that comes out in the chewing.

I think the natural meat flavors make up the second strongest flavor. Some pieces give out a stronger flavor than others. It's usually the rough and bumpy textured slices that give out the strongest meat flavor, while the smooth slices are weak. The flavor is similar to that of porterhouse steak, but cooked very well done. Throw some salt, garlic, and pepper on top, and that's pretty much what this jerky tastes like.

The third-strongest flavor component goes to the black pepper. For the most part, it's a weak flavor, but tends up to show up in places where there a higher concentration of seasoning. I can taste the aftertaste, but even the aftertaste is weak. I'm not sure that this jerky actually does live up to its advertisement as "original black pepper". But then again, I'm thinking this was actually meant to be the brand's original variety, but they added the words "black pepper" to let you know there's a considerable amount.

There's a good taste of garlic in this, and in fact I debated on assigning it the third-strongest flavor component, but decided that the black pepper was actually stronger. It's something more strong as an aftertaste, but can still be detected in chewing each piece.

Meat Consistency

These appear to be slices of whole meat, sliced to an average thickness, and in medium to large pieces.

This is a dry jerky, one that cracks and breaks with a little bit of bending. Tearing off a piece is relatively easy, though some bending back and forth is required. Chewing is tough and gives my jaw muscles a workout.

The chewing texture feels very steak-like, but being dry and cooked well-done. It's very meaty and fibrous, not really rubbery, mushy or crumbly at all. It's initially hard to chew, but while it softens up quickly, it never really becomes easy.

As for clean eating, it drops only minimal amounts of fragments despite all the bending and tearing. My fingers don't pick up an residue from the surface.

This jerky also seems pretty lean, having no visible amounts of fat. I couldn't find any tendon or gristle. I did however find some unchewable wads of connective tissue remaining in my mouth, but few and far between.

Snack Value

Caveman Jerky sells this original black pepper variety from their website at a price of $7.99 for 6 ounces. They actually sent me two 3.5 ounce packages, making it 7 ounces total. I also ordered 6 ounces of their crushed red pepper variety as well. In all, I paid a total of $26.93 for 14 ounces of jerky after you tack on tax and shipping. That works out to a price of $1.92 per ounce, putting this just inside the average price range, but close to being expensive.

Note that also sells this jerky, and right now they have a deal going where if you buy $25.00 or more, they waive the shipping fee.

Caveman Jerky was also nice enough to throw in a free bag of teriyaki, but there's no guarantee they'll do this for everyone.

For general jerky snacking purposes, at the $1.92 per ounce price, it presents a fair value. I'm getting a moderate amount of snackability. It's a got a good taste, and a very meaty chewing texture. For me, the dry, tough chewing detracts from the snacking enjoyment, though others might prefer this type.


I'm giving this an average rating.

I'm getting a moderate amount of snackability from this, enough to warrant an average rating. In terms of flavor, overall it's tasty, it has a good deal of flavor intensity, and I'd consider it well above the mass-market factory stuff. It offers a natural meat flavor, something very reminiscent of homemade jerky.

It's just too dry and tough for my liking, enough so that it detracts from its good flavor. Chewing this stuff becomes a workout. Even if I were to suck on a piece for awhile, it's still an effort to chew, and by the time I get through a bag, my jaw muscles are worn out. I'd appreciate the flavor of this jerky much more if it were easier to chew. It doesn't necessarily have to be more moist, just more easier.

Also, seeing the words "original black pepper" on the package made me expect a full-blown black pepper variety, but I didn't actually get that. I got some black pepper taste, but just low-to-moderate amounts. I got more saltiness than anything else, and even the garlic seems to rival the black pepper in terms of intensity.

But jerky, like everything else, is relative to your liking. If you like dry, chewy, slab-style jerky, this is it, with some good flavor.

I think a good beer pairing with this is a medium-hopped, pale ale.

Rating: Average

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