Friday, January 9, 2009

Whole Foods Market Beef Jerky - Sweet & Spicy

Whole Foods Market Beef Jerky - Sweet & Spicy365 Organic is the store brand that Whole Foods Market uses for most of its products. This is the first beef jerky that I've reviewed from them, previously I reviewed their turkey jerky, "Fajita" and "Bar-B-Que".

And like their brand name suggests, the packaging carries the USDA Organic symbol as well as the "certified organic" symbol from Quality Assurance International.

Whole Foods Market doesn't make their own jerky, it's actually made by Idaho Falls, ID-based Intermountain Natural, LLC, a jerky manufacturer that specializes in making private labeled jerky for natural and health food stores. Intermountain also makes the store brand for Trader Joe's, as well as their own house brand Golden Valley Natural.

Intermountain Natural also makes the Jerky Direct brand, and interestingly, I had reviewed Jerky Direct's Organic Beef Jerky - Sweet & Spicy, and which I suspected has the same ingredients and same nutrition facts as this stuff.


Organic beef, organic evaporated cane juice, water, organic soy sauce, organic apple cider vinegar, sea salt, organic cayenne pepper, organic paprika, natural smoke flavoring, organic black pepper, organic onion powder, organic garlic powder.


The tastes I pick up from the surface of these pieces is a moderate level sweet flavor, followed by a light cayenne pepper taste and a slight spicy tingle. The flavors I find in the chewing is pretty much the same, maybe just a bit more sweet, and a touch of salty.

My initial thoughts on this jerky as I continue chewing is that it's pretty much on par with the Jerky Direct version of this variety, being similarly sweet and similarly spicy. And it's also on par with much of what Intermountain Natural makes, with nary any natural meat flavors, and a light to medium flavor intensity.

For being advertised as a sweet & spicy variety, I'd say it does live up to that billing. I'm getting a moderate level sweetness all throughout, from the surface flavors and in the chewing. I'm also getting a decent amount of spiciness from the cayenne pepper. But it's not hot, I'd probably rate is as a mild-medium, and after having eaten several pieces, it seems to strengthen to a medium.

The natural meat flavors, as I reported above, are pretty much absent in this. I don't taste anything resembling beef. I don't really pick up the natural smoke flavoring either. But considering this is free of preservatives, it does have a fresh taste.

The level of salt intensity in this seems light. I think the spicy burn from the cayenne might be confused for a salt burn.

Overall, this jerky is dominated by the sweet flavor, while the spicy cayenne pepper provides the second-strongest flavor. Perhaps the saltiness can be the third-most dominant flavor, but it's actually not a strong flavor at all.

Meat Consistency

These appear to be slices of whole meat, sliced in medium thickness, and in small to medium sized pieces.

This seems to be a soft and tender style of jerky, having a decent amount of moisture, but if bent tends to crack and break easily. It's easy to tear apart, and easy to chew.

The chewing texture is right on par with jerky made by Intermountain Natural, somewhat meaty, but with enough mushiness that reminds you that this meat has gone through some kind of tenderization.

In terms of clean eating, I get a faint bits of cayenne pepper remaining on my fingertips, but nothing visible falling on my lap.

I found just one piece with a visible chunk of fat (see photos below), however as I ate other pieces I could feel some coating of fat across my tongue and the roof of my mouth, telling me there's more fat here than what meets the eye. But I didn't find any chewy connective tissues.

Snack Value

I paid $5.99 for this 3 ounce package at a Whole Foods Market in Irvine, CA. That works out to a price of $2.00 per ounce, putting this on the border between average and expensive.

For general jerky snacking purposes, at this price, it has a fair value. I find some snackability in this but not to any great amount. It's something I could eat if put in front of me, and I'll go ahead and reach for more, but it's not anything I'd go back and buy more of. There are other brands of jerky more snackable than this at a lower price.

As a sweet & spicy variety, it's a decent value, but at the $2.00 per ounce price, I'd still question the value this offers. You do get a good deal of sweet & spicy flavor, but at this price it doesn't seem like a good value.

Perhaps it's best value is that of an organic beef jerky. But that's largely an ideological quality for those who find it important to eat food made from 100% natural ingredients. You're not going to get any taste benefits from this being organic, however. Just some peace of mind.


I'm giving this an average rating.

I think it has enough snackability to warrant it, though it's probably at the lower limits of being average. Basically, it does what I would expect a jerky to do, that is be snackable, and stand up to its advertised flavor. It has a moderate level flavor intensity with its sugar and cayenne pepper, and it doesn't taste bad. And it has enough sweet and spicy flavor to justify being called "sweet & spicy".

Aside from that, there's isn't anything else here to write home about. The fact that it doesn't offer any natural meat flavors means that this jerky has to rely on it's flavorings to earn high ratings, and considering this only offers sugar and cayenne pepper for taste means that it doesn't impress.

While it's easy to tear apart and chew, the chewing texture is not that great.

Try a brown ale as a recommended beer companion to this jerky.

Rating: Average (3/5)

Where to buy:

  • At any Whole Foods Market


  1. Thank you for the info. I'm looking into getting into jerky as a post workout meal and this really helped.

  2. Whole foods is a disgusting company. They are slowly phasing out stocking their shelves with normal name brands in order to replace all everything with their own "365" brand. If you confront them about this say they brush it off.