Wild Bill's is a brand of Wild Bill's Foods, Inc., based out of Lancaster, PA. The company has been around since 1955, starting out as "Balwell's Butcher Shop". Balwell's started offering meat snacks in 1983. By 1988, the company changed its name to Wild Bill's Foods, Inc.
In 1997, Wild Bill's was acquired by Clemens Family Corporation, which owns several companies in the business of meat processing, storage, and delivery, helping Wild Bill's reach greater distribution and production. Today, it's owned by Monogram Food Solutions, makers of several major jerky brands.
The brand currently offers several lines of jerky, including a Premium line, as well as Tender Tips, and shredded jerky. What I'm reviewing here is from their "Tender Tips" line.
Beef, soy sauce, seasoning (garlic, pepper, red pepper). (Sprayed with potassium sorbate solution to help protect quality).
The first thing I taste from the surface of these pieces is a strong soy sauce flavor, along with a fair amount of saltiness. Overall, the surface flavor has a moderate amount of flavor intensity.
In the chewing, I taste more of the soy sauce with a greater saltiness. Here and there I can pick up a trace of black pepper, and I can detect a faint garlic flavor.
For being advertised as a Hickory Smoked variety, it's hard to notice the smokiness. I think the stronger soy sauce flavor washes that flavor out.
And in fact, soy sauce is the primary flavor of this jerky. It's well noticed all the way from the moment I put a piece into my mouth, to when I chew it up and swallow it down. The soy sauce tastes similar to the chinese-style.
With the soy sauce comes a saltiness, and this jerky tastes quite salty. Just on an individual piece basis, there's quite a bit of saltiness, but still tolerable for my tastes. But after eating several pieces, it builds up a scorching that tends to wear me out.
I don't pick up any natural meat flavors.
Despite the red pepper noted in the ingredients, I don't feel any kind of burn or heat from this.
And after eating several pieces the garlic remains very light.
Overall, what you're going to get out of this jerky is a lot of soy sauce flavor, lot of saltiness, and no noticeable smokiness. That's about it.
These appear to be slices of whole meat, sliced to a medium thickness, and in small to medium sized strips.
This is a dry jerky, having little flexibility before cracking open. Tearing pieces apart with my fingers is largely easy. Chewing, however, varies with some pieces being semi-tough, and others rather easy.
The chewing texture starts out feeling dry and rough, with some pieces breaking apart easily with light biting, but others requiring some good chewing. Once chewed down to a soft mass, they typically have a steak-like texture, very much like one cooked well-done. The tougher pieces however, seem to feel more crumbly, and less steak-like.
This jerky appears to be quite lean, with no visible chunks of fat. I did encounter a few pieces with sizeable streaks of gristle, but they didn't seem to get in the way of chewing all that much. Otherwise, this meat doesn't seem to provide any unchewable wads of tissue.
It's also clean eating for the most part. My fingers don't pick up any residue, and there seems to be minimal fragments of meat flying off as I tear pieces apart.
Wild Bill's sells this Hickory Smoked variety from its website at a price of $5.25 for a 3.25oz package. I bought two packages, each a different flavor. Add to that shipping costs of $6.50, and it came out to a price of $17.00. That's a per ounce price of $2.62.
For general jerky snacking purposes, at the $2.62 price per ounce, this seems to provide a weak value. I'm getting just a little bit of snackability from this, largely because the saltiness is rather strong, and the flavor is rather simple. Meanwhile, the $2.62 price per ounce is quite high compared to many other jerky brands. I just don't get an equal amount of snackability in return. If you can find this in a store where you don't have to pay shipping, it might earn a "fair" value.
As a Hickory Smoked variety, at the same $2.62 price per ounce, it's a poor value. I don't really pick up any smokiness from this. The strong soy sauce flavor and its strong saltiness, seems to shut out all the other flavors. If you bought this online like I did, thinking you're going to get some good smokiness, I don't think you'll realize any return value.
I'm giving this a fair rating.
This Hickory Smoked variety from Wild Bill's Beef Jerky just couldn't provide me much snackability, largely because the salt intensity is quite high, and the flavor is rather one-dimensional, being largely soy sauce. And while this jerky may have been hickory smoked, I just don't find much smokiness in this.
Overall, it's easy to eat though some pieces seem to be out of place being rather tough. And despite a few pieces containing gristle, overall this jerky provides a good chewing texture.
But it's hard to consider that chewing texture when the salt intensity is this high, and the overall taste is relegated to one flavor. I just don't feel encouraged to keep eating, though the flavor is still tolerable to keep it at a "fair" rating.
My recommended beer pairing for this, is to go with a stout.
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