Hickory's Best is a brand of Enjoy Foods International, based out of Fontana, CA. Enjoy Foods also makes the Enjoy brand of beef jerky which I reviewed previously.
I want to say that I've seen Hickory's Best beef jerky over the past several years, but I can't place where. Enjoy Foods has been making jerky since 1971, but I don't believe they owned the Hickory's Best brand for very long. Enjoy Foods is actually owned by a company called Saab Enterprises.
I think the Hickory's Best brand is meant to be the cheaper, low quality alternative to the company's Enjoy brand of beef jerky. The company makes both brands of jerky in their own USDA inspected facility.
Beef, teriyaki sauce, brown sugar, black pepper, garlic, onion, liquid smoke.
The first thing I taste from the surface of these pieces is a fair amount of sweetness. There's a faint bit of black pepper flavor noticeable.
The chewing flavor starts with a light bit of garlic and onion flavor, and light saltiness. There's just a little bit more black pepper.
The flavor that seems to dominate this jerky is that garlic and onion flavor, which seems to be a little more heavier on the onion. But it's not a strong flavor. In fact, this whole jerky is light on flavor.
The sweetness actually dominates the first few chews, but then wears off and let's the onion flavor take over the rest of the chewing.
The black pepper builds up strength over several pieces and adds a sharp contrast to the onion and paints a light aftertaste in the back of my mouth.
For the most part, I don't taste any natural meat flavors. But I found a few pieces that contained a stale meat flavor. Some pieces have siginificant chunks or streaks of fat, and the fat seems to add some flavor.
The liquid smoke ingredient doesn't really register on my palate.
The saltiness in this seems light.
Overall, it's light tasting jerky marked by an initial sweetness which fades quickly away into an onion seasoning flavor with some black pepper.
These are slices of whole meat, sliced thin, and in small to medium sized slabs.
This is a dry jerky with a dry surface feel. But these slabs are very flexible. Some are able to bend all the way around without any cracking, while others are a bit more dry and tend to crack apart. Tearing pieces apart with my fingers seems easy enough, while chewing is a bit labored and chewy.
The chewing texture starts out feeling rubbery or like soft plastic with a fair amount of chewing resistance. Several chews later, and it starts to break down. Once it gets down to a soft mass, it never ends up feeling like real meat. It still retains a rubbery feel, but more mushy and slimy.
Some of these slabs contain some significant chunks or streaks of fat. I didn't see any gristle or tendon, but I did encounter some stringiness in the chewing, and here and there I found some small unchewable wads of tissue.
In terms of clean eating, it seems fairly clean. I found no residue on my fingers, but in tearing these pieces apart, bits of black pepper flew off on to my lap.
I paid $7.75 for this 8oz package at The Beef Jerky Store in Las Vegas, NV. That works out to a price of $0.97 per ounce.
For general jerky snacking purposes at the $0.97 price per ounce, it's a decent value. I'm getting a low level of snackability due to a lackluster flavor and subpar meat consistency and chewing texture. But that price is a lot cheaper than what you'd pay for major brands of jerky at the grocery store, though the quality is maybe just a touch lower.
But for that low of a price, it's a good deal if you just want to keep your jaws working.
I'm giving this a fair rating.
This Old Fashioned beef jerky from Hickory's Best doesn't really provide much flavor aside from an initial sweetness and then an onion seasoning flavor. There's also a light bit of black pepper. But you won't really find any natural meat flavors except for a stale meat flavor in some pieces and a fatty flavor in others.
For a thin sliced slab style jerky, it's somewhat chewy due to a rubbery consistency and some stringiness. Once it's chewed down to a soft mass, it still feels rubbery except more mushy and slimy.
You wouldn't buy this jerky for its flavor or its chewing texture, but only for its price point. Compared to other jerky I've had priced at below $1.00 per ounce, it's one of the better products and would do well competing for shelf space in discount stores.
My recommended beer pairing for this, a red ale would do well. Try the Deschutes Brewing Cinder Cone Red, or the Karl Strauss Red Trolley Ale.
Where to Buy: