Friday, August 7, 2009

Pioneer Brand Beef Jerky - Smokehouse Original

Pioneer Brand Beef Jerky Pioneer Brand is a brand name of Jerky Snack Brands, Inc. based out of Minong, WI, though this jerky appears to have been manufactured out of the company's Schulenberg, TX facility.

The brand was originally founded in 1986 by Robert George in Livonia, MI. The company was originally a distributor of branded meat snacks and originally operated as Western Snacks, and then became Metro Snacks, until it changed names to Pioneer Snacks, Inc. It wasn't until January 2007 that the business was acquired by Jerky Snacks Brands.

Just this year the brand went through a complete rebranding emphasizing the letters "PNR", with a new logo and new package design.


Beef, water, brown sugar, salt, white sugar, flavoring, monosodium glutamate, sodium erythorbate, sodium nitrite.


The first thing I taste from the surface of these pieces is a smoky flavor, with a moderate sweetness. I get a little bit of saltiness with some sucking. Overall, a low-to-moderate surface flavor intensity.

The chewing flavor starts with a stronger smokiness, a stronger saltiness, and a continuation of the sweet.

The flavor components that seem to dominate this jerky is the smokiness and saltiness. As to which of the two is stronger is hard to say, but after eating several pieces I'd give it to the saltiness, only because it builds up a light scorching. Overall, the saltiness seems to be at a moderate-to-high level on each piece, and becomes rather high after eating several pieces. The smokiness seems to have that quality of being real smoked meat and not liquid smoke.

The sweetness continues through the chewing, but never dominates, and stays in the background.

I don't really pick up any natural meat flavors at all.

Overall, what you're going to taste in this is a strong smokiness and strong saltiness, with the saltiness gaining intensity over several pieces, and then a moderate sweetness that stays in the background.

Meat Consistency

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

This is a dry jerky with a stiff rubbery feel. Tearing pieces apart with my fingers seems easy enough, while chewing is somewhat easy, or just a little chewy.

The chewing texture starts out feeling stiff, like a hard piece of rubber, but still seems to break apart easily with some sucking and light biting. Once its chewed down to a soft mass, it has a meaty texture, though not always steak-like. Some are steak-like, others are little crumbly.

Most of these jerky pieces are pretty lean, but I found some with small bits of fat. Otherwise no tendon, no gristle, and minimal amounts of stringy sinews.

It seems pretty clean eating, with just a faint amount of oil on my fingers though not enough to worry about, and no meat fragments falling on my lap or desk.

Snack Value

I paid $5.99 for this 3.5oz package at a Ralph's grocery store in Menifee, CA. That works out to a price of $1.71 per ounce.

For general jerky snacking purposes, at the $1.71 price per ounce, this jerky seems to provide a fair value. I'm getting only a low level of snackability due to its rather high salt intensity, though it seems to have a good meat consistency and decent chewing texture. The $1.71 price per ounce is the same as other mass-market jerky brands found at the grocery store, and I'm getting the same or slightly less snackability.


I'm giving this a fair rating.

This Smokehouse Original variety from Pioneer Brand definitely has a smoky flavor, much like a real wood smoked jerky, but it also has a high level of saltiness that eventually becomes too strong for my liking, and therefore reduces its snackability.

I like the smoky flavor, but it seems that's about all this jerky offers. In addition to the saltiness, there's a moderate intense sweetness, but still takes a back seat to the stronger saltiness.

The meat consistency seems good for a dry jerky, though some pieces can be a little chewy. The chewing texture is decent, being meaty, and just a little crumbly here and there.

My recommended beer pairing for this, go with an IPA.

Rating: Fair

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