Big Ben's Beef Jerky features the name and likeness of Ben Roethlisberger, quarterback for the Pittsburgh Steelers. This is his own branded beef jerky.
It's actually the creation of PLB Sports, Inc., based out of Pittsburgh, PA. They own several lines of snack foods with sports celebrities on them. They're the ones who own "Flutie Flakes", and have since expanded to several more sports heroes, including Ed McCaffrey's Dijon Mustard, Dustin Pedroia Black Bean Salsa, and John Elway's Comeback Crunch.
Big Ben's Beef Jerky is made by Mirab USA, who makes private labeled jerky for hundreds of brands, including the Tony Stewart's Beef Jerky I reviewed earlier.
Beef, water, sugar, salt, garlic powder, maltodextrin, monosodium glutamate, black pepper powder, apple cider vinegar, sodium tripolyphosphate, sodium erythorbate, citric acid, sodium nitrite.
The first thing I taste from the surface of these pieces is a sweet flavor, with a smokiness mixed in. With some sucking I get some saltiness.
The chewing flavor doesn't seem to offer anything more, other than light tangy flavor.
Overall, this jerky's primary flavor offering is the sweet. It's what I seem to taste more than anything else. The saltiness is also a dominant flavor, but tends to show up half-way through the chewing, after the sweetness was waned away. The saltiness is at a moderate intensity.
I don't taste much of the black pepper as I did with Tony Stewart's Beef Jerky, and I assume it's the same exact recipe as this Big Ben's Beef Jerky. I can taste a hint of black pepper, but not enough to make a contributing factor.
I do taste some tanginess inside the meat, perhaps coming from the apple cider vinegar.
But the natural meat flavors are absent. There's a touch of smokiness, however.
Overall, it's largely a bland tasting jerky, marked by an initial sweet, giving way to a moderate saltiness, with a light tangy flavor in the chewing.
These are slices of whole meat, sliced to a medium thickness, and in small pieces. There are a lot of crumbled bits at the bottom of the bag.
This is a semi-moist jerky, with a semi-moist surface feel. The pieces have a woody texture on the surface, but are very flexible, bending without much cracking. Tearing pieces apart seems easy to do, and chewing ranges from easy to moderate.
The chewing texture starts out with feeling rough and woody, but pliable. With little chewing, it seems to break down quickly to a soft mass. At that point, it mostly feels mushy, with a fibrous quality. There's a steak-like character to it, but one that feels mushy.
I don't see any bits of fat on this jerky, nor any gristle or tendon. But in a couple of pieces I did feel something chewy/crunchy, as if it might have been gristle. I didn't find anything stringy either.
In terms of clean eating, my fingertips are left with a faint bit of stickiness, but I can still type on my keyboard without getting them dirty. There's some meat fragments falling on my lap as I tore a few pieces apart.
PLB Sports sells this Original beef jerky at a price of $12.00 for three packages of 3.25oz each. Each package is a different flavor, Original, Peppered, and Teriyaki. Shipping cost me $9.48, for a total of $21.48. That works out to a price of $2.20 per ounce.
For general jerky snacking purposes, at the $2.20 price per ounce, this provides a weak value. I'm not getting any snackability out of this largely due to its bland flavor and mushy chewing texture. That $2.20 is a little bit higher than what you'd pay at a grocery store for a national brand like Jack Link's or Oberto, and yet this jerky is not as good.
I'm giving this a fair rating.
Big Ben's Beef Jerky is pretty much the same whole muscle recipe that Mirab USA makes for many other brands. It's largely bland tasting, relying mostly on an initial sweetness, giving way to a saltiness, with a bit of tanginess in the meat, and little else to enjoy. The chewing texture is mushy.
Overall it's rather poor tasting, but I still can't say that this is disgusting. I can still tolerate it enough to write this review, though I'd prefer not to eat anymore.
If Ben Roethlisberger wanted to lend his name to a beef jerky, he could have demanded a better meat processor. Or maybe he just banged his head one too many times.
For my recommended beer pairing, I'd go with something strong in flavor, like an IPA.
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