I did a couple reviews of Bridgford Beef Jerky's Teriyaki and Sweet & Hot varieties about two and a half years ago. Recently the company sent me packages of their other varieties for review.
Anaheim, CA-based Bridgford Food Corp. was started in 1932 by Hugh H. Bridgford in San Diego, CA as a meat market. Bridgford expanded the business quickly by distributing his meats into other retail outlets and then distributed meats to hotels, restaurants, and other processors. In addition to their Anaheim factory, they have factories in Dallas, TX, Chicago, IL, and Statesville, NC.
Their beef jerky is made in their Chicago plant, along with many of their shelf-stable meat products. Bridgford's beef jerky is one the top selling brands in the United States, eclipsed only by Oberto and Jack Link's.
Beef, water, sugar, salt, brown sugar, monosodium glutamate, flavorings, hydrolyzed corn protein, sodium erythorbate, sodium nitrite.
The first thing I taste from the surface of these pieces is a smoky flavor, followed by a touch of sweet, and a moderate degree of saltiness.
The chewing flavor starts with an increased saltiness, and a light cured meat flavor, with a continuation of that smokiness.
I'd say the flavor that seems to represent this jerky more than any other ingredient is the saltiness. Even though the nutrition facts label shows a moderate sodium content, the saltiness feels a bit higher, perhaps sitting somewhere between moderate and high.
There's isn't much other flavor to taste in this, and hence is probably why this comes off tasting salty.
That cured meat flavor continues through the chewing. It's a light flavor overall, just adding a bit of extra flavor to the saltiness. The smokiness that I tasted from the surface of these pieces continues into the chewing, but is overwhelmed by the more dominant saltiness.
And that touch of sweet I noted from the surface continues into the chewing, but is just enough to add a bit of body to the flavor, and not really noticeable on its own.
Overall, what you're going to notice in this jerky is a dominant saltiness that seems to overwhelm this jerky for the fact that it doesn't have much else to taste. There's a light bit of a cured meat flavor, a little bit of smokiness, and just a touch of sweet.
These are slices of whole meat, sliced to a medium thickness, and small pieces.
This is a semi-moist jerky, with a dry surface feel, but with little flexibility, cracking open with just a little bit of bending. Tearing pieces apart with my fingers seems easy to do, while chewing seems easy as well.
The chewing texture starts out feeling dry and easily breaks down with just a light amounts of chewing, and quickly chews down to a soft mass. At that point, it has a meaty feel, somewhat like chewing a piece of steak, but more soft, and rather stringy.
I don't see any bits or streaks of fat on these pieces, nor did I find any gristle or tendon. I do find a lot of stringiness, and they left behind some stringy wads of tissue behind in my mouth.
As for clean eating, these are very clean handling. No residue on my fingers, and very little bits of meat falling off as I tore pieces apart.
Bridgford sells this Original beef jerky from its website at a price of $20.94 for a six-pack, with each package weighing 3oz. Add to that shipping of $8.06 delivered to Southern California, and it totals to $29.00. That works out to a price of $1.61 per ounce.
For general jerky snacking purposes, at the $1.61 per ounce price, it's a decent value. I don't really get much snackability from this mainly due to a uninteresting flavor, an average chewing texture, though it's easy to eat. That price is actually less than what you'd pay in the grocery store for competing major brands of beef jerky, but offers a comparable snackability.
I'm giving this a fair rating.
This Original variety from Bridgford Beef Jerky largely only provides a salty flavor, backed up with just a light cured meat flavor, a light smokiness, and a touch of sweet. It's easy to chew and handle, and provides something of a meaty, steak-like chewing, but is rather stringy.
The flavor of this jerky is uninteresting. It's just a saltiness more than anything else, and not much to tantalize the taste buds. With all respects to the folks at Bridgford, and with thanks for sending me sample packages, this could very well suffice as prison-issue jerky.
I know there are other spices and flavorings that go into this, but salt is largely what I get out of this. This jerky doesn't taste bad, but it doesn't provide me with much snackability due to a plain, boring flavor.
My recommended beer pairing for this, I'd go with a some kind of nutty brown ale. I think you'll find the stonger malt and the nutty flavor to work well with that light cured meat flavor. Try the Rogue Hazelnut Brown, or the Abita Pecan Harvest Ale.
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