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Beef Jerky Shootout

Welcome once again from Silicon Holler! Today, we will be taking a competitive look at several different brands of beef jerky. Obviously.... DAVE! WHAT ARE YOU WRITING ABOUT? ARE YOU CRAZY? Ok, Ok... I hear the editor mumbling in the background. Yes, I freely admit that beef jerky isn't exactly cutting edge technology here. In fact, Native Americans have been eating dried strips of meat for thousands of years.

But, I'd like to present a little different light on this unique snack. I suspect... no, I KNOW... that many of you are lardbutts. Heck, I'm one too! Unfortunately, one of the downsides of intense computing and gaming means that many of us do not obtain the optimal level of physical activity. Furthermore, I mind myself snacking more and more while working on the computer - and that's where beef jerky comes in. This is a snack that is great tasting, high in protein, low in sugar, and long lasting - and still low in carbs. Jerky strips can be a great alternative to traditional late-night computing snack such as candy bars and chips.

Beef Jerky Shootout

Today, we'll be taking a look at six different brands of beef jerky - Pemmican, Bridgeford, Jack Link's, Great Value, Oberto, and Slim Jim. These brands were chosen for their availability and reputation, and they were all purchased in national retail stores. The testing panel consisted of myself, the Missus, and #2 son who loves jerky a lot. BTW, my wife teaches marketing and product promotion at the University level, so she actually has quite a bit of experience with blind tastes tests and product reviews. Soooooo, with the "tools of the trade" on hand, we took a hard look at each product and described what we found.

Beef Jerky Misc

Here's a description of the brands tested, packaging, and notable comments from our panel of testers - we graded for taste, moistness, tenderness, and value. All packages were purchased at discount/grocery stores, and they are all nationally distributed.

Pemmican     Pemmican

Pemmican - $1.79 for a 3 oz package ($.66 per ounce) purchased at Big Lots. Thick and flavorful with a deep smoke flavor. Moderately lean. Very moist and easy to chew. The only beef jerky brand in this group that was cut "across the grain", making it very tender despite most of the jerky pieces being over 1/8" thick. Most pieces were already cut to be bite-sized. Inexpensive though might cost far more at other stores.

Bridgeford     Bridgeford

Bridgeford - $3.97 for a 4 oz package ($.99 per ounce) purchased at Wal-Mart. Thick cuts with a strong flavor. More moist than most. Large pieces some of which required cutting up with scissors.

Jack Links     Jack Links

Jack Link's - $2.97 for a 3.25 oz package ($.91 per ounce) purchased at Wal-Mart. The moistest jerky tested. Warm smoky flavor with a hint of pepper and spice as an aftertaste. Mixture of large and small pieces. Also had a sweet flavor, with a small amount of sugar confirmed by the nutritional label.

Great Value     Great Value

Great Value - $2.98 for a 4 oz package ($.75 per ounce) purchased at Wal-Mart. Full package, seemed far more than 4 oz. Nice taste with some Teriyaki and soy overtones, even though a separate Teriyaki flavored jerky is sold. Uniformly large pieces. Available even cheaper in 8 oz large packages.

Oberto     Oberto

Oberto - $3.97 for a 4 oz package ($.99 per ounce) purchased at CVS. Also seemed more than 4 oz, but this is partially due to this jerky being so dry. This allows for more jerky in the package for a given weight. Very pronounced spicy smoke flavor, stronger than most and tougher also.

Slim Jim     Slim Jim

Slim Jim - $3.85 for a 3.25 oz package ($1.18 per ounce) purchased at Piggly Wiggly. This beef jerky was very, very, very, very, very dry. It was parched, baked, arid, and devoid of all moisture content. Did I mention this jerky was dry and tough? It was also extremely spicy compared to the other jerkys. The problem is, if you like regular Slim Jim sticks, you'll like the flavor of this jerky - but you'll hate the fact that it takes twenty minutes to eat a single piece.

Here's the way we ranked the beef jerkys based on our initial criteria:

Taste: Jack Link's BY FAR tasted the best to the panel. The second group included Bridgeford, Pemmican, and Great Value. Oberto and Slim Jim were the least liked.

Moistness: Jack Link's was the most moist, followed by the second group of Pemmican, Bridgeford, and Great Value. Oberto was dry and tough, and Slim Jim was even worse.

Tenderness: No jerky was even close to Pemmican due to the uniformly small pieces and crosscut beef. Jack Link's was also tender but could be overly chewy depending on piece variation. Bridgeford and Great Value comprised the next group and Slim Jim and Oberto followed last.

Value: Pemmican was the best value, followed closely by Great Value based on price per ounce. Slim Jim was the most expensive, as you might expect from the name brand tie-in. Bridgeford, Oberto, and Jack Link's were in the middle of the pack. Note that some packages weighing 3.25 oz are often sold next to packages weighing 4 oz.


We rated the beef jerkys overall in the following order based on our main criteria:

Jack Link's Pemmican
Great Value
Slim Jim

Now... all you guys go buy some beef jerky and put down the candy bars. It tastes great and is a lot better for you - and don't overlook the primal satisfaction of ripping flesh between your teeth as you slam an Axe of Cleaving through your online opponent's skull. :-)

Added: October 1st 2005
Reviewer: Insulglass
Score: 10  
Hits: 12336
Language: english


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