Friday, November 9, 2012

Golden Island Beef Jerky - Hickory Black Pepper

golden island beef jerky
Next in the series on Golden Island Beef Jerky is this Hickory Black Pepper variety. See my reviews of their other flavors here.

Golden Island Beef Jerky is a brand of Formosa Meat Co., Inc. based out of Rancho Cucamonga, CA. I had originally reviewed Golden Island back in 2008, but just recently the company unveiled a new package design, reformulated recipes, and eliminated the use of preservatives.

This Hickory Black Pepper jerky is described by the company as, "Spicy cracked black pepper with a touch of smoky flavor. A unique and tasty treat, each piece of jerky is carefully sliced and perfectly seasoned with savory black pepper. From the first bite, the blast of pepper will wake up your taste buds while the smoky flavor will keep you coming back for more."


Beef, sugar, corn syrup, soy sauce, spices, potato starch, salt.


The first thing I taste from the surface of these pieces is a meaty flavor with a moderate sweetness. The black pepper flavor is soon noticeable, while a faint smokiness lingers.

The chewing flavor starts with much of the same, though the black pepper gains a little strength, and the soy sauce becomes lightly noticeable.

For being marketed as a Hickory Black Pepper beef jerky, it seems to hold up somewhat. I don't get a lot of the hickory smoke flavor, just a light bit. But I do pick up a lot of black pepper flavor. It's immediately noticeable and gains strength through the chewing, and by time I swallow it down, it lingers as a strong aftertaste.

It's a very crisp, pungent black pepper with a freshly cracked flavor. It even generates some spicy burn. I'd rate this on my personal heat scale as "mild medium" (level 2 out of 5).

Otherwise, the flavors that define this jerky overall is the sweetness and black pepper. The natural meat flavors have the next most contribution. From there, bits of soy sauce and hickory smoke flavors are lightly noticeable.

There's also that starchy, bread-like flavor that I described in the company's Mandarin Orange beef jerky, where I said that, "It even mimics the flavor of the breading that coats the chunks of meat", in a dish of Chinese Orange Beef. It tends to give me a flavor that I only seem to find in jerky products manufactured by Chinese companies.

The level of saltiness in this seems moderate.

Overall, it's a strong black peppered jerky, producing a low to moderate level of spicy burn, with a medium level of sweet.

Meat Consistency

These are slices of whole meat, sliced into slabs of small to medium sizes, and sliced medium thickness.

This is a dry jerky, with a dry surface feel. The slabs have a little flexibility, but also a little brittle, causing them to break apart fairly easily.

The chewing texture starts out feeling dry and woody, offering light amounts of resistance. A few chews into this and it feels dry, almost crumbly. Moving along, it tends to crumble more, but as is moistens and softens, it starts to mesh. Ultimately, it has a meaty, steak-like feel, but very dry, almost over-cooked.

I don't see any bits of fat on these pieces, but I do encounter a good deal of gristle. Most slabs have at least some gristle, and it creates a rubbery chew, almost like rubber bands.

As for clean eating, it's very clean, leaving no residue on my fingers. However, the black pepper bits tend to fall off easily.

hickory black pepper beef jerky

chinese beef jerky

Snack Value

Golden Island sells this Hickory Black Pepper beef jerky from their website at a price of $6.00 per 4oz package. If you buy six packages, shipping runs $5.30 when delivered to Southern California. That works out to a price of $2.29 per ounce.

For general jerky snacking purposes, at the $2.29 per ounce price, it's a fair value. I'm getting a basic level of snackability through a satisfactory flavor, though a fair meat consistency and dry chewing texture. Compared to other major brands of jerky sold in stores, it seems to have the same snackability.

As a Hickory Black Pepper jerky, at the same $2.29 per ounce price, it's a fair value as well. I'm not getting much hickory smoke flavor, but I do get a lot of black pepper.


golden island beef jerky
I'm giving this an average rating.

This Hickory Black Pepper beef jerky from Golden Island is like a Chinese version of an old American classic. It takes the tried and true flavors of hickory smoke and black pepper and combines them with Chinese-style touches to create a unique flavor that mixes the Old West with the Far East.

I actually found just hints of hickory smoke with an over-the-top helping of black pepper. It's also a freshly-cracked pepper flavor, not the ground up, canned flavor. But there's also a good deal of sweetness in the chewing, with a bready, dough-like taste, and light amounts of natural meat flavor and soy sauce. The extra load of black pepper actually produces some spicy burn, enough that folks who don't tolerate spicy foods may find this too hot.

While I enjoyed the unique flavor, I didn't care so much for the meat consistency. Mostly, I found too much gristle in this meat, adding that rubbery, crunchy feel. I could entertain a higher rating if the gristle were trimmed off. The chewing is also quite dry, like it's over-cooked. Perhaps that's the just the Chinese-way of doing beef jerky, and this is all by design.

Rating: Average

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