Saturday, November 10, 2012

Uncle Zip's Beef Jerky - Original

uncle zips beef jerky
Uncle Zip's Beef Jerky is based out of Hope Mills, NC, run by Ken Howell.

It started in 1995 by his father Bill Howell, who got a dehydrator for Christmas and started making jerky. Bill was able to sell his product at a few places around town. His son Ken joined the business and the two created, "Uncle Zip's Beef Jerky". In 2008, Ken's father, mother, and nephew died, leaving him in a state of depression, and nearly ending the business.

But Ken persevered, and last year was featured on the television show, "Shark Tank", where he pitched his beef jerky business to a panel of judges included Jeff Foxworthy, who coincidentally had his own brand of beef jerky (see our review).


Ingredients

Beef, soy sauce, worcestershire sauce, black pepper, spices, flavorings, red pepper sauce.

Taste

The first thing I taste from the surface of these pieces is a light soy sauce and worcestershire sauce combination. A salty, garlic & onion seasoning comes into view, as well as a light sweet.

The chewing flavor starts with an increased garlic & onion seasoning. The soy sauce and worcestershire combo gains definition. The natural meat flavors are noticeable, but only after several pieces once you get used to the other ingredients.

For being marketed as the company's Original flavor, it's fairly mild and tame in terms of spiciness, and suitable for all tolerances.

The flavors that seem to define this jerky is the garlic & onion seasoning, with the saucy combination of soy sauce and worcestershire coming in after that. There's also a touch of sweet. The natural meat flavors become more noticeable towards the latter part of chewing.

The natural meat flavors have the garlic & onion seasoning, the soy sauce and worcestershire, all mixed in and can be difficult to separate. But I can sense the meat flavors back there, and they do contribute to a flavor profile resembling that of strips of beef in a wok of stir fry, with the fatty, oily taste.

The level of saltiness feels moderate.

Despite the red pepper sauce ingredient, I don't pick up any heat or spiciness.

Meat Consistency

These appear to be slices of beef brisket, sliced medium thickness into strips of about two to five inches.

This is a dry jerky with a dry surface feel. The strips have a good deal of flexibility with a semi-plastic feel. Chewing seems easy.

The chewing texture starts out with a light soft plastic feel, offering a light resistance. A few chews in and it starts to take on a meaty feel. Moving on, and it gets more meaty, and by the time its chewed down to a soft mass, it feels like eating a slice of real steak.

I don't see any fat on these strips, nor any gristle or tendon. But I do encounter a good deal of stringiness which chews down into wads of unchewable tissue.

As for clean eating, it's pretty clean. My fingers pick up no residue.



Snack Value

Uncle Zip's Beef Jerky sells this Original variety from its website at a price of $30.00 for a 4-pack. Each pack is 3oz. If you bought two quantities of this 4-pack, shipping comes to $12.00 (according to website). That works out to a price of $3.00 per ounce.

For general jerky snacking purposes, at the $3.00 per ounce price, it's a weak value. I actually get a good overall flavor, and a good meat consistency and chewing texture. But that price is considerably more expensive than major brands of jerky sold in stores. While it's a better flavor and meat consistency, I'm not sure its awesome enough to overcome that considerably high price per ounce.

Rating

I'm giving this an average rating.

This Original variety from Uncle Zip's Beef Jerky offers a mild flavor consisting mostly of garlic & onion seasoning with a background of soy sauce and worcestershire. There's a fatty, natural meat flavor running in the background.

Overall, it's a tasty flavor that seems to satisfy the snacking urge while providing a tender, steak-like chewing. But aside from that, there isn't much else to report. Compared to the hundreds of other Original flavored jerky brands I've reviewed, this doesn't do much to rise above the others.  I think it's a better jerky than the major brands, but compared to gourmet brands this seems to sit in the middle of the pack. It's great for driving, hiking, and video game playing, or any other activity where you're not thinking about the jerky.

The meat consistency and chewing texture is actually its better characteristics. It's a soft chew, and chews like a real piece of steak, though because its beef brisket, there's a lot of stringiness leaving behind unchewable wads of tissue.

Rating: Average

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