Having spent the better part of eight years attempting to grow a massively intimidating if not Al Borland-esque mustache, I couldnâ€™t help but release a manly grunt when Blue Ox Jerky Company offered to send me a box of their products to try. Promising to add three inches to my beard, the box of jerky also came with an affirmation that the smoky-sweet snacks are eaten by real men, and not, I should add, fanciful hairless woodland pixies. Seeing as though I live in perpetual fear of spontaneous woodland pixie transformation, this was quite welcomed, as was the bumper sticker included in my package that asks, “got balls?”
I guess theyâ€™re not exactly courting the females demographic, huh?
No bother. After a steady diet of Special K and Luna bars Iâ€™m entitled to a snack worthy of only the highest degree of chauvinism. Provided, of course, it actually delivers, and doesnâ€™t taste like some soy-sauce laden, gas-station monstrosity thatâ€™s been pieced together from the remains of a dilapidated cow from Brazil. Fortunately, Blue Ox promises to punch said “gas station jerkys” in the face. Hereâ€™s a rundown of the results.
The jerky looks impeccable right out of the package. Thereâ€™s almost no fat and zero gristle to be seen, while a meaty aroma strikes you as unmistakably backwoods Americana (as opposed to, you know, gas station bathroom). Unfortunately, the texture is subpar for a small-batch jerky company. Itâ€™s chewy and dry, with the striations of muscle tissues splintering rather than cleanly tearing.
The taste is heavy of black and white pepper, and I find myself enjoying the kick on the back end, which intensifies to tickling proportions. But the sweetness is inconsistent, with some pieces displaying a more pronounced level of brown sugar than others. I donâ€™t find myself missing the soy sauce on the ingredient label (something many beef jerky makers use in their marinade) but I donâ€™t recognize the taste of honey either. The beef flavor is good, but itâ€™s not exceptional. All things considered, it may punch gas station jerky in the face, but itâ€™s more like the punch of your baby sister connecting every so often with a random uppercut than what youâ€™d expect from a knockout fighter.Â
I normally prefer black pepper jerky, and judging by the coarse ground black pepper specks all over the jerky, I thought Iâ€™d be all for this flavor. The only problem is that in terms of black pepper flavor, it doesnâ€™t just punch you in the face; it kicks you in the balls as well. Itâ€™s single and intense, far surpassing a slight tickle and reaching “make you run for a glass of water” variety. Nice if you like black pepper, but without balance of even a moderate sweetness, itâ€™s just too intense for most people. That it doesnâ€™t tear cleanly isnâ€™t much help.
Now weâ€™re talking. I liked this flavor best. Itâ€™s lighter and moister than the Original flavor, and the spices arenâ€™t as prominent on the back notes. Still very lean, it has a light amber sweetness and a more assertive savory flavor to balance the sweetness. Finally, weâ€™re connecting with a solid right, if not a Rock â€˜Em Sock â€˜Em Robot uppercut.
A close second to Honey BBQ, this was another moist flavored jerky with a subtle smoke flavor and a hint of fruity sweetness. Again, fat and gristle is almost nonexistent, and the sweetness does well to cut the obviously salty taste. Even the beef jerky layman will recognize heâ€™s eating only a prize-fighting cow here, and one which no doubt could have kicked those dilapidated Brazilian steers in the face.Â
Did Blue Ox Jerky add three inches to me beard? Not exactly, but I did feel a touch of masculinity while chewing on the Honey BBQ and Cherry Maple flavors.Â But judging by some of the beef jerky Iâ€™ve had from gas stations, the Blue Ox wouldnâ€™t be able to last more than a few rounds in the ring. Still, itâ€™s better than what youâ€™ll find at the Dollar Store. Maybe they should change their slogan to “Punches Dollar Store Jerky in the Face.”
(Editor’s Note/Disclaimer: We received these samples for free from Blue Ox Beef Jerky in order to review them.)
(Nutrition Facts – 1 ounce – Original – 50 calories, 0.5 grams of fat, 0 grams of saturated fat, 480 milligrams of sodium, 5 grams of carbohydrates, 3 grams of sugar, and 6 grams of protein. Peppercorn – 50 calories, 0.5 grams of fat, 0 grams of saturated fat, 470 milligrams of sodium, 5 grams of carbohydrates, 3 grams of sugar, and 6 grams of protein. Honey BBQ – 60 calories, 0.5 grams of fat, 0 grams of saturated fat, 260 milligrams of sodium, 8 grams of carbohydrates, 5 grams of sugar, and 6 grams of protein. Cherry Maple – 70 calories, 0.5 grams of fat, 0 grams of saturated fat, 430 milligrams of sodium, 5 grams of carbohydrates, 5 grams of sugar, and 6 grams of protein.)
Item: Blue Ox Beef Jerky (Original Smoked, Peppercorn, Honey BBQ, Cherry Maple Smoked)
Price: FREE ($6.50 for a 4 oz. package online)
Size: 2 oz. samples
Purchased at: Sample provided from Manly, non-pixie marketing team
Rating: 6 out of 10 (Original Smoked)
Rating: 5 out of 10 (Peppercorn)
Rating: 8 out of 10 (Honey Barbeque)
Rating: 8 out of 10 (Cherry Maple Smoked)
Pros: Honey Barbeque and Cherry Maple flavors have nice, subtle sweetness that compliments meat. Both flavors are moist and tear easily. No fat and little gristle to be seen. â€˜Meatyâ€™ smelling hands. Free bumper stickers. Unabashed chauvinism. Dominating Brazil.
Cons: Original Smoked and Peppercorn donâ€™t taste particularly smoky. Inconsistent tearing. Meat isnâ€™t tender. Death by black peppercorn. Free bumper sticker Iâ€™ll never use. Facial hair inadequacy.