The last in my series on Mr. Z Beef Jerky (or at least until they come out with another flavor), is this Peppered variety. See my earlier reviews on their Original, Teriyaki, and Sweet & Hot varieties.
The Mr. Z brand is owned by International Food Company, based in Sao Paulo, Brazil. The jerky is manufactured completely in Brazil, and distributed through IFC's USA-based affiliate, International Food Company, USA, LLC. It's been around since 1998, but it didn't show up on US store shelves until around January 2008.
It's a jerky that seems to thrive in discount stores like Dollar Tree, and through its online store at Amazon.com. This particular review sample was sent to me by the folks at Mr. Z, and must have come right off the assembly line, as it has a "Best Before" date of Apr 24 2010. However I think the packages at Dollar Tree are much older, possibly close to their expiration date. In my review of their Original variety, which I purchased from Dollar Tree, I noted a stark difference to the Teriyaki and Sweet & Hot varieties that Mr. Z sent me directly.
Beef, water, sugar, salt, black pepper, soy sauce, smoke flavoring, hydrolyzed soy protein, garlic powder, maltodextrin, onion powder, soybean oil, monosodium glutamate, silicon dioxide, flavoring, glycol propylene, paprika, sodium erythorbate, sodium nitrite.
The first thing I taste in this jerky off the surface is a medium level sweetness, followed by a weak black pepper flavor. With more sucking I can get a faint saltiness. When I start chewing, I get a bit more saltiness, a very weak meat flavor, and a stronger black pepper flavor.
The ingredients list notes glycol propylene and silicon dioxide, which I believe are used to prevent pieces from sticking together, and maintain some sense of moisture. Well, I can feel a slight sliminess on the surface, and I think it comes from one of those two.
For being a peppered variety, this jerky provides a lot of black pepper flavor. It's the dominant flavor of this jerky. I can taste some of it off the surface before chewing, but during the chewing it really gets strong, and I can feel a very strong aftertaste, almost to the point of burning the back of my throat. In fact, the pepper is strong enough that it seems to have numbed my tongue somewhat and I'm having trouble tasting the other flavors.
After several pieces, it's hard to detect the saltiness and the sweetness with the numbing of my tongue. The chewing results in almost no flavor, even the black pepper is hard to detect at this point, except for the burning I feel on the lining of my throat. I can feel my blood stream warming up, and a bit of moisture building on my scalp.
This is going to be a short section on Taste, because at this point, the strong black pepper has shut out my taste buds.
These appear to be slices of whole meat, sliced to a medium thickness, and in small pieces. There are a lot of crumbled and "nibble sized" pieces in the bottom of the bag, perhaps about 1.5 to 2.0 ounces worth.
This is a dry jerky, but with a soft feel. They crack quickly with a slight amount of bending. These pieces are small enough that they don't require any tearing apart. Chewing seems moderate in terms of ease.
The chewing texture starts out with a bit of rubbery resistance but quickly breaks down into something fibrous and meaty. However, it's not quite steak-like. It's more crumbly than anything, which perhaps could be due to the small-sized pieces and the coating of glycol propylene and silicon dioxide.
In terms of clean eating, I'm still seeing some pieces of cracked pepper falling off of this jerky, even though I don't have to tear anything apart. It seems there's enough black pepper on these that just handling the pieces causes pepper to fall off. Otherwise, my fingers don't pick up any residue.
I didn't really find any fat on this jerky, and no tendon or gristle. I didn't find any chewy sinews in the meat either.
Mr. Z. sells this 4 oz package of teriyaki through it's Amazon.com store at a price of $27.12 for a quantity of 6 packages. That price includes the shipping. So it works out to a price of $1.13 per ounce, putting this into the average price range, but towards the cheaper end.
For general jerky snacking purposes, at the $1.13 per ounce price, it presents a weak value. I'm not getting much of any snacking value in this. It's difficult to eat because the strong black pepper taste numbed my taste buds and I couldn't really taste much. Some pieces were of a certain size that it made for a decent mouth-full, but about half of this package is filled with "nibble sized" pieces that require me to pour into my hand, which in turns causes black pepper corns to fall all over the place.
As a black peppered variety, at the $1.13 per ounce price, it presents a fair value. You'll get lots of black pepper taste in this, but so much so that it eventually numbs your tongue and you won't taste much black pepper after that. You might want to rub the excess pepper off, however that's quite a bit of work considering this bag is filled with over a hundred small to tiny pieces.
I'm giving this a dog treats rating.
Actually, I wouldn't give this to my dogs; I think the high level of black pepper taste would constitute an inhumane act. But regardless, this intensity of black pepper makes the jerky difficult to eat. You could try rubbing the excess pepper off, however, because most of these pieces are small to tiny, you'll have a hundred pieces to rub.
If the black pepper were toned down, I'd perhaps assign it an average rating. At that point it would be snackable, and seemingly well within the realm of mass-market jerky.
But with my tongue becoming numb to the concentration of black pepper, all I'm left with to enjoy is the chewing texture, and as it turns out even that's not all that great. It's more crumbly than anything else.
My beer recommendation for this a smooth, creamy stout to sooth a ravaged tongue.
Rating: Dog Treats
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