Saturday, October 18, 2008

Tanka Bar

Tanka BarTanka Bar is the name of an energy snack made from chopped buffalo meat and cranberries, similar to the traditional "wasna" and "pemmican" made by native American tribes. It's not really being billed as jerky, being it's more moist than jerky. It came out in September of 2007.

It's the creation of Native American Natural Foods, LLC, based in Kyle, SD, on the Pine Ridge Indian Reservation. The idea is to combine high-protein buffalo meat with the antioxidant properties of cranberries, in an all natural product. The company uses a "secret", patent-pending herbal-based preservative.

Sales of Tanka Bars seems to be growing quickly based on the articles I read through a Google search. It's available in hundreds of stores across the country, and through its website.


Buffalo, died cranberries, water, salt & less than 2% of flavorings, red pepper, se salt, granulated garlic, granulated onion, lactic acid starter culture.


The taste off the surface of these pieces has something of a meaty aroma, but very little taste. Most of the taste comes from the chewing, which gives off mostly a meat flavor.

The taste of the buffalo meat resembles that of a salisbury steak from a frozen TV dinner, and that's pretty much the dominant taste of this Tanka Bar from start to finish. It's an "ok" taste as far as natural meat flavors go, but then it's far from inspiring. Looking closely at the meat, it appears that it's not just pure muscle, but pieces of other stuff (and I'm not talking about the cranberries either). The aftertaste I get from about three minutes of swallowing is very much the aftertaste of most chopped & formed jerkies.

The company claims it uses tart-sweet cranberries, except the cranberries in this have very little flavor. They have a soft-mushy texture, as if they had been cooked. I'm not sure they contribute anything to the bar in terms of flavor.

In terms of saltiness, there's very little salty taste.

Overall, the word "bland" comes to mind with the Tanka Bar. The additional seasonings might perhaps have saved it from tasting any worse. I'd say it's palatable for the general public, but only so far as finishing off the whole bar and not spitting it out. Maybe the British might enjoy this.

Meat Consistency

These are bars of similar shape and size as a Milky Way bar. It's a chopped & formed meat snack, with whole dried cranberries. The ratio of meat to cranberries seems pretty close to 50/50, with maybe the meat having a higher ratio.

It's indeed very moist, more on the line with being a kippered snack, though chopped & formed. It's very easy to bite off a piece, and very easy to chew. It pretty much falls apart in my mouth.

It's also somewhat oily to the touch. I find myself rubbing my fingers after touching it.

The meat in this is chopped extremely fine, there's nothing fibrous by appearance. It doesn't chew like meat at all. It's pretty much like that salisbury steak from a frozen TV dinner.

Product Value

I paid $5.99 for two Tanka Bars directly from its website. Each bar is one ounce. That works out to a price of $3.00 per bar, making this an expensive buy (in comparison with buffalo jerky).

For general meat snacking purposes, this presents a poor value mainly due to its high price and uninspiring taste. I'm not sure that Native American Natural Foods, LLC intended this to be a general purpose snack, anyways. They're billing it as a healthy energy snack.

But even as a healthy energy snack, it presents a poor value. I've had buffalo jerky with less fat and more protein than this. Even if you were dieting, this stuff contains more carbohydrates than some of the beef/buffalo jerkies out there, and costing much less.

For the most part, I think the Tanka Bar can be successful for the novelty factor, the fact that buffalo meat is being sold into an energy bar, and mixed with cranberries to boot, is something that even I couldn't resist trying. I think the packaging and graphics is very key to its success as well.


I'm giving this a fair rating.

I really didn't find anything exciting in terms of taste, and it didn't really have much of a snack factor for me. The only snackability came from its ease in eating.

The fact that it had cranberries in it really picqued my interest when I saw this product advertised online. I figured it would provide a very tart-fruity contrast to the salty-meaty buffalo taste, but instead the cranberries are largely tasteless in this.

And then of course the natural meat flavors are rather drab, and just on the good side of "yuck".

For a beer recommendation, I'd suggest a hoppy IPA to help cancel out the chopped & formed aftertaste.

Rating: Fair

Buy this online:


  1. Your review was spot on for this product. I could not even get myself to finish the bar. Yuck....

    I would change the rating to one star... Dog food.

  2. My only complaint about this product is the price. This is a real Native American product. The taste is meaty and I like the touch of sweetness from the cranberries. If this were priced competitively, I would eat more of it. For now, I would only use this on hikes and such.

  3. Pretty much nailed it spot on. The bars, along with the sticks are pretty much the same, bland. They are a step above Jacklinks, which isn't saying too much, and much pricier which is even worse. They do have an actual jerky out that I would be willing to try, but I can't imagine it would be much better.

  4. Love these bars! great for breakfast after a workout!amazing product. support Native foods!