Wednesday, March 28, 2018

Western's Smokehouse Snack Sticks

westerns snack sticks
Western's Smokehouse has been in business since 1978, when it was founded by Sam Western, a man who built a career as a butcher. Originally starting as a local meat market, Western's Smokehouse struck it rich when it introduced it's first meat stick, "Western's Hot Dogs".

Renaming them to "Snack Sticks", the company expanded to meet demand by building a larger facility. Production of snack sticks remains as the company's primary focus today.

In addition to these 1 ounce sized snack sticks, Western's also offers them in 2 ounce sizes called, "Big'un" as well as a line of natural snack sticks, both of which we'll review later.

Original

Ingredients: Beef and pork, water, salt, corn syrup solids, encapsulated citric acid, spices, mustard, dehydrated garlic, natural smoke flavor, sodium nitrite, beef collagen casing

The flavors that come on immediately is a light salt and tanginess, with a noticeable meat flavor. The chewing brings on the spices, mostly a garlic with some touches of black pepper, and an increased salt. I can even detect a bit of cayenne, and it seems to generate a light bit of heat, rating no more than "mild medium" on our heat scale (level 2 out of 5). There's a tangy vinegar-like profile along with hints of smoke. As the company's Original offering, it has a great balance of spices, meaty flavors, and tangy chewing. The chewing itself has a firm consistency, meaty, with a faint snap in each bite. I found nothing unchewable, and no hard bits of tissue. It's all meat.

Smokey Sweet

Ingredients: Beef and pork, brown sugar, water, salt, corn syrup solids, honey powder, encapsulated citric acid, spices, mustard seed, natural smoke flavoring, garlic powder, sodium nitrite, collagen casing

The sweet well noticed right away, giving way to a meaty flavor once the chewing begins. This doesn't have the salt/spice/tangy profile of the Original, but is quite mild and suitable for all audiences. Younger kids would love this stick for it's initial sweet hook, and offers just enough salt and meat flavors to keep them chewing. The meat consistency seems a bit more stiff than the Original, with bit more snap in each bite. They handle cleanly with no sticky or oily residue on my fingers.

Sweet & Sassy

Ingredients: Beef and pork, water, salt, dextrose, encapsulated citric acid, brown & cane sugar, corn syrup solids, spices, dehydrated garlic and onion, natural smoke flavor, sodium erythorbate, spice extract, sodium nitrite, collage casing

The initial flavor is a light salt. The chewing brings on a vinegar-like tanginess, along with a noticeable garlic, and even a touch of cayenne flavor (that must be the Sassy part of the name). This stick is comparable to the Original in terms of its balance between salt, spices, sweet, and smoke, but seems to have a touch more heat. I'd still rate this "mild medium" (level 2 out of 5), however. The stick feels slightly more soft than the Original, but still yields a noticeable snap in the each bite.

Teriyaki

Ingredients: Beef and pork, water, sugar, hydrolyzed soy protein and whey protein, salt, encapsulated citric acid, dehydrated soy sauce, less than 2% of sodium phosphate, hickory smoke flavor, onion and garlic powder, spices, sherry wine powder, natural spice extractives, sodium nitrite, collagen casing

The first flavors give off a very faint salt and a very faint sweet. Not much else is seen until the chewing starts. At that point, a soy sauce flavor comes in along with a bit more sweet. There's some garlic and onion seasoning, along with a touch of tangy vinegar. Overall, this is largely a soy sauce profile, not really a true Japanese style teriyaki. The stick itself feels more rigid than the Original and Smokey Sweet mentioned above, and offers a similar snap in each bite. It's still very meaty, with no fat, stringiness, or other unchewable tissues.

Bar-Be-Cue

Ingredients: Beef and pork, sugar, water, salt, encapsulated citric acid, spices, dextrose, onion and garlic powder, natural smoke flavoring, molasses powder, natural spice extractives, sodium nitrite, collagen casing

The initial flavor is a faint salt and sweet. The chewing brings on a touch more sweet, along with a light tanginess. It's not really a barbecue flavor, at least nothing like a Kansas City, or a Memphis, or even a Georgia style. If anything there's a faint tomatoey flavor, and the usual light smokiness, but that's it. It's comparable to the company's Original, but much less spicy and a little less salty. The stick itself is more soft, similar to the Original, but still has the same meaty chewing with a light snap.

Bacon

Ingredients: Beef and pork, water, salt, bacon, encapsulated citric acid, brown sugar, sugar, natural smoke flavoring, dextrose, sodium erythorbate, spice extractives, sodium nitrite, collage casing

The initial bite yielded no flavor, however once I started chewing it tasted like smoked ham. There's a light salt, along with a light tanginess, and perhaps touches of garlic. Otherwise, there's no definitive bacon flavor; it's a ham profile all the way. It's certainly mild, probably do well with kids, and even offers a clean handling. It's a softer stick compared the others above, but the casing generates a snap in each bite.

Sweet Maple Bacon

Ingredients: Beef and pork, water, sugar, bacon, salt, honey powder, encapsulated citric acid, maple sugar, natural smoke flavoring, hydrolyzed soy protein, maple flavor, dextrose, spice, natural spice extractives, sodium nitrite, collage casing

It's definitely sweet right away. And the maple flavor is unmistakable. The chewing brings on more of the maple flavor, but a noticeable smokiness can't be ignored. Between the maple and smoke, it's hard to notice that this is a bacon snack stick. It still has a ham-like flavor, but because of the maple syrup and the smokiness, this is more convincing as bacon. Overall, it's a mild flavored stick, sweet, smokey, even "bacony". It's just as soft as the Bacon variety above, and still has that light snap in the bite.

Verdict

These Snack Sticks from Western's Smokehouse all have a meaty chewing, with no stringy, hard, or unchewable tissues. They're all meat inside, and all offer a light to moderate snap in each bite off the stick. I like the clean handling of each variety, and they even leave behind a clean feel inside the mouth. The Original flavor is clearly the best of the bunch, offering a great balance between salt, spices, sweet, and smokey, and would do well with adults because of its light bit of cayenne heat. The Sweet Maple Bacon is the runner-up, tasting like a strip of bacon (or a slice of ham) where the maple syrup ran off the pancakes and smothered everything on the plate. The Teriyaki is not a true teriyaki flavor, but delivers an unmistakable soy sauce for those who crave the Kikkoman profile. Overall, Western's Snack Sticks deliver a classic American meat stick experience for those who want something genuinely Red, White, and Blue.

Rating: Good


snack sticks

snack sticks

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