Matador is a brand name of Link Snacks, Inc. of Minong, WI. It's the newest product from the Jack Link's group of meat snacks, launching last March.
The brand is intended to appeal to teens and early 20-year olds with an action-packed lifestyle of motocross, skiing, skateboarding, surfing, and the like. Link Snacks, Inc. apparently ran a taste test with teenagers to develop just the right flavor and consistency to push all the right snacking buttons.
The company partnered with Frito-Lay to get this new brand of jerky into retain outlets everywhere.
Beef, water, sugar, salt, brown sugar, maltodextrin, flavorings, monosodium glutamate, spices, smoke flavor, sodium erythorbate, citric acid, sodium nitrite.
The first thing I taste from the surface of these pieces is a smokiness, followed by a faint sweet. With some sucking there's a light saltiness.
The chewing flavor starts with a stronger saltiness, followed by an increased sweet. I also get an increased smokiness, and a light meat flavor.
Overall, the flavor component that seems to be the strongest in this jerky is the sweet. However, I would not consider this to be a sweet jerky, the sweetness is perhaps moderate in intensity. It's just that compared to the other flavor components, the sweet seems to be the most noticeable, and mostly in the chewing.
The smokiness seems to be the second-strongest flavor. But after eating a few pieces, the smokiness becomes more difficult to notice. It's after taking a drink of water, and pausing for 5 minutes, and the eating another piece that I can really pick up that smokiness.
I'd give the saltiness the honors of being third-strongest, at a moderate intensity.
The meat flavor I reported above is noticeable but light. It doesn't quite have that steak flavor, but something more closer to summer sausage, or a meat stick.
This jerky doesn't really pack in a lot of flavor, but moderate at best. The flavor is more like a summer sausage that's lighter on the meat flavor, and heavier on the sweet.
This appears to be a chopped & formed jerky, pressed into shapes and sizes comparable to a Chicken McNugget, but sliced medium thickness.
It's semi-moist jerky with a semi-moist surface feel. Being bite-sized, it's not necessary to tear apart, however they're still very easy to tear apart, and likewise very easy to chew.
The chewing texture starts out soft and plastic-like. Just a few chews and these break down quickly, and soon renders into a soft mass. At that point, it takes on a meaty consistency, but mushy, more like a meat-loaf that didn't fully cook all the way through.
Being chopped & formed, I can see blotches of dark and light while holding this jerky under a light. I don't know what the dark blotches might be, but I can recognize the lighter-colored chunks as connective tissues, like gristle, cartilage, and tendon. I did not, however, encounter any hard crunchy bits.
I also found these rather clean eating. My fingers picked up trace amounts of oil, otherwise nothing else messy.
I paid $5.99 for this 3oz package at a Walgreens store in Menifee, CA. That works out to a price of $2.00 per ounce.
For general jerky snacking purposes, at the $2.00 per ounce price, this seems to provide a fair value. I get an average amount of snackability for its ok flavor, easy eating, and decent meat consistency (for a chopped & formed jerky). The $2.00 price per ounce is a little bit higher than what I'd pay at the grocery store, instead of the drug store where I got this, and as such still seems higher than what I'm getting out of it.
I'm giving this an average rating.
This Original variety from Matador Beef Jerky seems to provide enough snackability through a flavor that's good enough to snack on, and an easy-to-eat consistency. It's not anything that's going to impress you, but I don't think it'll gross you out. I could a eat through a bag of this while watching television, and still keep my focus on the television.
As for a jerky that's intended to appeal to teenagers, I guess I can't comment on that. Compared to regular old Jack Link's jerky, this stuff does seem a little more sweet, and a little more smoky, a little more moist, and far more easier to chew.
Being an avid motorcycle rider, I could definitely wander into a convenience store after filling my bike up with gas, pick up a bag of this and wolf it down in a minute, just to keep the hunger at bay. Though I doubt I'd pay $5.99 for this. But it seems like Matador Beef Jerky might well be successful. But to enjoy it for it's flavor, it's chewing, it's consistency, it's neither good nor bad.
I think a good beer pairing for this is a porter.
Visit Matador Beef Jerky online: