Thursday, July 31, 2008

Hawaiian Warrior Beef Jerky - Sweet & Spicy

Hawaiian Warrior Beef Jerky - Sweet & SpicyHawaiian Warrior Beef Jerky is a brand that has been around since 1969 and has become widely recognized within the State of Hawaii. It's owned by Palama Holdings, LLC.

The Hawaiian Warrior brand had actually been owned by Palama Meat Company, a company that started out as local butcher in the 1950s, and began supplying meat to local schools. The school supply business grew quickly and catapulted the company into becoming the state's largest meat processor. It also launched a line of foods under the Mays Hawaii brand.

In 1997, the company's owner, Donald Lau, retired by selling Palama Meat Company to H&W Foods. In the years following, H&W Foods ran into financial diffiulty and filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection. In 2004, a California-based investment company bought H&W Foods, and relaunched it as Palama Holdings, LLC.

While the Hawaiian Warrior Beef Jerky has been a local favorite, it hadn't really gained a following outside of Hawaii, and earned a stigma from tourists as being a bad-tasting jerky. The company recently redesigned the package into what you see now, and reformulated the recipes. The product is now being exported into the mainland and into asian food markets.


Beef, water sugar, salt, sodium citrate blend, monosodium glutamate, spices, garlic powder, natural flavor, not more than 2% silicon dioxide added to prevent caking.


The first taste I pick up with this is a slight sweetness, and a strange taste that I can't really describe. It's almost like an old meat taste, but I don't really know if that's what it is. It may be the chili-pepper seasoning (I can see chili-pepper seeds on this).

Being this is a Sweet & Spicy variety, it does offer a sweet & spicy taste, but in small amounts. This is not hot at all, but spicy enough to give me a slight burn in the back of my mouth. I'd rate this as mild-medium. But this is probably a little more sweet than it is spicy.

There is a taste of the natural meat flavors in this, but I have to chew this several times to find it. It makes itself more apparent just before swallowing.

In terms of saltiness, there is indeed some saltiness in this, but it's not too salty.

Overall, this has a decent taste, but it's a taste that's somewhat on the bland side. There isn't much here that excites me. I'm guessing that the large national brands like Oh Boy! Oberto and Jack Link's has infiltrated the islands and forced Hawaiian Warrior into the position of rebranding and reformulating itself, but this isn't going to cut it. Hawaiian Warrior might, however, find success in marketing itself to the asian markets, just based on the Hawaii theme.

Meat Consistency

These are cuts of real meat, sliced into thin to medium thickness, and in small to medium sized pieces.

This is a dry jerky, but still very flexible. It's on the chewy side, but not too difficult to tear apart and chew. I find it easier to let a piece soften up in my mouth before chewing.

Several pieces have small bits of fat, but otherwise I found no chewy tendon or gristle in this review sample.

Overall, the meat consistency is good for a dry jerky.

Hawaiian Warrior Beef Jerky - Sweet & Spicy

Hawaiian Warrior Beef Jerky - Sweet & Spicy

Product Value

I paid $6.29 for this 4oz package at a Marukai Market in San Diego, CA. That works out to $1.57 per ounce, putting this in the average price range.

I don't really find this to be a good value for general beef jerky purposes, it has a somewhat strange taste that I can't describe, and the taste overall is rather bland.

As a sweet & spicy variety, I'd say that "yes, it's technically sweet & spicy", but it's not very sweet & spicy. If I were to see a package of jerky advertised as such, I'd expect it to put a lot of emphasis on that aspect. In that sense, it's not worth the $6.29 I paid.


Hawaiian Warrior Beef Jerky - Sweet & SpicyI'm giving this a fair rating.

I am finding a snackability to this, but not a strong one, not enough to warrant the average rating that a stronger snackability would guarantee. It largely stumbles on its lackluster taste. It does have a taste, but not one grabs your tongue. It doesn't even a lot of natural meat flavors.

And there is also that strange taste that I described above, I don't know if that's from the chemicals, or maybe an old meat taste, or something about the seasonings or what.

Finally, I see this as failing in representing itself as a sweet & spicy variety.

The Hawaiian Warrior brand of jerky would probably do well to focus on bringing out the native Hawaiian flavors, instead of carrying the mainstay flavors of teriyaki, peppered, and sweet & spicy. I think when people see a beef jerky that claims to be "Made in Hawaii", they expect something exotic, and not something they already find everywhere else.

How about "Pineapple Teriyaki", or "Coconut Honey"?

Rating: Fair

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