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Does 'quality' beef jerky exist?

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Is there such a thing as gourmet beef jerky? Any artisanal jerky purveyors? Do any chefs you know use it? Looking for some great great jerky.

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  1. Years ago I was on vacation in southern Oregon and I had some jerky from a little shop in a town near Ashland. I'm not normally a big jerky fan, but this stuff was fabulous. I brought some back to the office and my co-workers and I devoured it all in a day. Unfortunately, I soon forgot the name of the place, so I'd given up on ever finding it again, if they were even still making it. Then, a few weeks ago, I saw a show on the Food Network that featured Gary West Meats in Jacksonville and I realized this was the place. I haven't ordered any more jerky from them yet, but if it's as good as it was then, it might fit your requirements. If you like heat, try the Cajun!


    2 Replies
    1. re: MsMaryMc

      Love Gary West, and so do my dogs.


      1. re: MsMaryMc

        "Does 'quality' beef jerky exist?"

        Yes. Meadow Farms 'Famous Mahogany Smoked Meats' in Bishop California has been making quality jerky since 1922. A co-worker of mine who has family near there and visits often brought some back for me to try...it was the best, and continues to be, the best I'd ever tasted. Mail order is available. Here's a link (below) to their website so you can check it out if you like. Jerky varieties include...beef, turkey, elk, buffalo, and fish.


      2. Yes! The Fatted Calf (http://www.fattedcalf.com/) makes delicious beef jerky.

        1 Reply
        1. re: nyerineastbay

          The Fatted Calf makes the best jerky I've ever tasted.

        2. -----

          At one time I liked beef jerky till I found out that most of it is essentially salty dried up road kill. (I need not make that up, just read the labels!).

          Anyway, it would be a great hobby for you to start making your own or locating someone that does.


          1. I'm not a huge jerky fan, although I enjoy chewing on the occasional strip. Most interesting purveyor I've found is Buck Thornton, who owns the World of Jerky in Sedona, AZ. Check out his website, especially the products (variously seasoned jerky made from beef, buffalo, elk, salmon, etc.) which can be ordered online. If you're in Sedona, it's definitely worth a visit.


            1 Reply
            1. re: Striver

              Just visited this place, very nice people and great jerky. Lots of interesting choices and Buck will let you try whatever you want.

            2. On a side note, Asian beef jerky is available in most larger Asian markets. Look for the ones in the red boxes. They come in either sweet (flavored with fruit juices) or spicy. The texture is softer and more tender than the "American" jerky I've seen.

              2 Replies
              1. re: dpan

                I second the Asian beef jerky suggestion. Sometimes you don't have to choose between sweet and spicy - I like the ones that are both at once. Plus, you can get pork jerky or spicy dried squid or cuttlefish. In Taiwan, beef or pork jerky is considered a delicacy; people will give it to each other as a fancy gift. (Not at all like giving someone a box o' Slim Jims here.)

                1. re: dpan

                  Absolutely concur with this. There is a small shop in Chinatown in NYC, I don't know the name of it, it's miniscule, I believe on Canal Street. Anyway, it makes the most sublime jerkies I've ever had of various types of meat; pork, chicken and beef all with an asian flare. They are in squares, and flavored with various sauces such as sweet & sour, spicey, etc. Positively addictive. If it hadn't been for an ex-boyfriend that grew up there, I never would have even known about this type of food, let alone the store. Wonderful stuff.

                2. http://www.beefjerkyoutlet.com/
                  I have had jerky from the above and found it very very good. The jerky with a touch of honey is my favorite.

                  1. My BIL loves the teriyaki and sweet 'n' spicy from Mahogany Smoked Meats.


                    5 Replies
                    1. re: LindaWhit

                      I'm glad you posted this link, as I was trying to think of the name of Mahogany Smoked Meats to recommend them, but couldn't remember it!

                      We always stop at the store on the way up to Mammoth, CA. All of their jerkies are very good.

                      1. re: DanaB

                        I don't believe they ship outside of California. They make a quality product, we order a couple of times a year, and always, but always, stop by when in the area.
                        Is this 'gourmet' or simply wonderful jerky? I don't know...because I don't know how the OP defines 'gourmet'. It is not a plumped up phoney product.

                        1. re: Jesdamala

                          If they (Mahogany Smoked Meats) doesn't ship out of California, my BIL has been an extremely lucky man for several Christmases in a row, as a family member has ordered some as a gift for him for the last 3 years. And we're in the Boston area. :-)

                          1. re: Jesdamala

                            Their site says they DO! We also used to stop there every winter, on our way to a multi-family vacation week in Mammoth. The best jerky I've ever had, but it does go for $35 or so a pound. Need to keep that craving under control.

                            1. re: Midlife

                              Perhaps they have changed their policy, as I live in California is has never been an issue. They have superior products!

                      2. There was an interesting discussion on the Kosher board a few months ago about a gourmet South African jerky called Biltong. The discussion can be found at http://www.chowhound.com/topics/316441

                        1. A whole bunch of cajun charcuterie purveyors (oh, that sounds pretentious--how 'bout I just call 'em "meat markets") in south Louisiana do excellent beef jerky. The prevailing style is sliced meat, not the processed, pressed, extruded stuff. My personal favorite comes from Bourgeois' Meat Market in Thibodaux, LA. Bourgeois slices beef round on the bias into long, not-so-thin strips, which are rubbed with a cure, then smoked. $25/pound. While Bourgeois doesn't have a website, here's the contact info:

                          543 West Main Street, Thibodaux, LA 70301. (985) 447-7128.
                          Owned and run by the same family since 1891, makers of boudin, andouille, cracklins, hog's head cheese, smoked sausage and jerky. Nationwide shipping.

                          1 Reply
                          1. re: Hungry Celeste

                            Ah, HOME! Yup, I was reading through to see if anyone had mentioned Bourgeois... they're wonderful, although I don't know from "gourmet". Family and friends there recommend it highly, & ship/gift it to friends, who then order more or ask/beg for more! :-)

                          2. As long as your not talking about a dried, dehydrated hot-dog or sausage (think Slim Jim), then the defining quality of a good beef jerky is the seasoning.

                            There are beef jerky that are dry (Texan style) or wet (Taiwanese style), but the cuts of meat as long as it is not fatty and the breed of cow generally are inconsequential so long as the seasonings are up to snuff.

                            1. Not sure if it's me, or the different ingredients being used, but I'm finding most beef jerkies sweet in a strange unpleasant way. Maybe it's the corn syrup that's creeped into everything? I'm not sure. I used to like the Taiwanese beef jerky either regular or spicy kind, (not the sweet pressed pork jerky, though if slightly charred those are good, too) but have found the last few times of eating them that the meat is flavorless, and the strange sweetness leaves a bad taste. The other day I though I'd counter that with the Oh Boy Oberto, counting on the saltiness and the tough thin sheets...but was sad to find that even these have gone wimpy. Now they are easy to tear, and has a sickly sweet taste that's really neither sweet nor salty, just bleh!

                              I only have one place for beef jerky now, too bad it's only in New York. ...

                              1. I like the Asian jerkies.

                                Beyond that, the dried game meats--some very spicy and others not--from Ethiopia and Kenya are really good. Various of the non-endangered, usually over abundant, and sustainiably harvested animals are used. I use them in beans and other slow-cooked meaty dishes. I have no idea if such jerky is marketed in the US.

                                1. I love the Snackmaster brand of beef and turkey jerkys that they sell at Trader Joe's. The turkey jerky is one of my favorite snacks!

                                  1. My dad was a butcher and a good jerky maker in his day. I still remember intensely the jerky we got doing our Winnebago vacation and passing thru San Louis Obispo in California and getting a big brown grocery sack of the chewiest jerky, various thicknesses but no flavors other than salt & pepper that interfered with the beefy taste. Now this was probably almost 40 years ago but my little sis and I still remember fighting over the bag and sneaking some out cuz we were not supposed to eat it all at once. My dad is pretty old and his last few attempts have been poor so I think I need to carry the torch and try, thanks for the impetus.

                                    3 Replies
                                    1. re: torty

                                      It is still around and is still as good!!

                                      Cattaneo Bros. - http://www.cattaneobros.com/

                                      1. re: PVB KMY

                                        Cattaneo Bros is not a family owned business any longer.The brothers sold their business several years ago to a corporation.

                                        However, brother Ray Cattaneo and his wife continue to produce jerky under the name Ray's Own brand, still based in San Luis Obispo, Ca. They have a weekday storefront there, or you can order on-line. They also do fabulous BBQ (grill) catering on the Central Coast. (see catering threads on the Calif board)

                                        to order: http://www.raysownbrand.com/

                                        I sent some jerky to a family serviceman overseas and it was the "hit" of the goodie box.

                                        1. re: toodie jane

                                          I would like to clear up some confusion and false information that was posted above. Cattaneo Bros. is still a family owned business. Founder William Cattaneo Sr. and third generation family member Jeff Cattaneo trained Mike Kaney, now owner how to continue the tradition of making Cattaneo Bros. Beef Jerky. For over twenty years now Mike Kaney and his family have been running the operation with the same instructions and traditions that the Cattaneo's taught them. This year, Cattaneo Bros. is celebrating their 60th Anniversary. For more information you can check us out on our website at www.cattaneobros.com or call us at 1-800-243-8537.

                                    2. It may seem outrageous, but it is totally possible to make your own with a dehydrator. My BIL makes THE BEST jerky....I could eat it until I croak. Nothing available in the market, even from local BBQ joints, can compare. Yes, it takes some time, but it's way worth it.

                                      1. Along the line of Asian beef jerkey, stop by the local Mexican market. Carne secca is great beef jerky without preservatives. Sometimes it is marinated in lime or chiles. I never liked the salty, tough overly chemicalized beef jerkey until I tried carne secco. You have to look around though. Some versions are ok. Some are exquisite.

                                        1. Jerky is a fabulous, low carb snack. The famous Paulina Meat Market in northern chicago (lakeview neighborhood) is famous for their homemade jerky. My personal favorite is their teriaki jerky. Unbelieveable. Perfect addition to the antipasti plate.

                                          1 Reply
                                          1. re: cookieblaugh

                                            I would eat out the the Paulina dumpsters....their products are the best.

                                          2. Lindner Bison at www.lindnerbison.com has really nice jerky. I'm fortunate enough to be able to buy it at my local farmer's market every weekend. The mild just has bison, salt, and honey. Peppered adds cayenne. The animals are organic, grassfed, happy critters, which I like.

                                            1. Oh, it exists, allright. At large ranches in Texas and Colorado, jerky made from beef, venison, and elk is almost a cult thing. The rancher and his staff have collaborated and expended untold hours with molasses, honey, pepper, spices, smoke, and dessicated meat, to watch your eyes pop out when you taste THEIR jerky. They know you have sampled from the neighbor's ranch 40 miles away. Competition is often a wonderful thing. The bad news: it's not for sale.

                                              1. I bought some terrific "artisanal" jerky at the Aspen, CO farmer's market

                                                1. Oberto - Black Pepper. It's commercial but, consistently chewy and tasty. It's great with an ice cold beer!

                                                  1. We make our own beef jerky. It's so easy and so much better than anything that's out there. The ingredients are simple and best of all, you know exactly what you're eating.

                                                    1. Have to add Smoky Davis in Boise Idaho. They make various kinds of jerky, including black pepper coated, teriyaki, hot and spicy (dusted with chili powder) and venison jerky too. Davis has been in the smoking business for generations and people bring their own meats to be smoked at his facility. The jerky is fresh, pliable, and absolutely delicious.

                                                      Alas they don't ship themselves but they will cryovac their amazing fresh jerky at the retail outlet for travelling. Next time you are in Boise, it's well worth a stop. Around 3000 W. State Street.

                                                      1. The stuff is ridiculously easy to make. You can get food dehydrators for almost nothing now (such a trendy gift from a few years back). You can use any lean meat like london broil or flank steak or turkey breast. Marinade in soy sauce, ginger, thai spices, chili powders, or whatever you like. Lay the stuff on the dehydrator racks and you have "gourmet" jerkey in 12 hours.

                                                        6 Replies
                                                        1. re: monkeyrotica

                                                          Can you recommend one that I can pick up on my next trip through the US and bring back as reasonable carry on?

                                                          1. re: Sam Fujisaka

                                                            Dehydrators tend to be on the bulky side, particularly if they have multiple drying trays, so I don't know easy a carry-on it would be. Mine is the Deni Dehydrator, around $40. Ronco has also been making one for years.

                                                            1. re: monkeyrotica

                                                              Thank you. Maybe checked if packed well.

                                                              1. re: Sam Fujisaka

                                                                Sam - I make pounds and pounds of jerky during the Winter. We use Excaliber 9 tray dehydrators and you can get them on Amazon for about $200.

                                                                1. re: Den

                                                                  Den, belated thank you! I'll look into this. Meat in Colombia is not all that expensive; and beef is completely range fed.

                                                            2. re: Sam Fujisaka

                                                              You can make jerky in a conventional oven. Here is one recipe.

                                                          2. Check out the beef jerky from Longview, Alberta, Canada. The best I've had apart from the Cajun Jerky that my butcher back home used to make.


                                                            1. go to macau
                                                              they have streets full of jerky vendors - beef, pork, chicken, ostrich, veal, spicy, sweet, black pepper, whatever
                                                              feel free to sample all you like b/f buying

                                                              1. I have been making jerky for more than 15 years now. It is much better thatn you can buy in the stores. It is not difficult to make, it just takes time to do it. Most folks don't want to take the time, and time is what makes jerky a fairly expensive product. I have a strong following locally, they can't go back to commercial jerky after eating mine. It works well as a side business.

                                                                1. As for the Asian style jerky, I love new Beef King in Manhattan's Chinatown. It is located at 89 Bayard street. They have yummy beef and pork jerky dry or wet styles. They also have a website www.newbeekking.com

                                                                  5 Replies
                                                                  1. re: chalkman

                                                                    I like the jerky around the corner on Mulberry at Ping's better. The taste and the texture are both more appealing.

                                                                    1. re: SomeRandomIdiot

                                                                      I agree. I bought some from them about 20 years ago and cannot get that great flavor anywhere else. Every time someone I know goes to NY, that's what I ask for. Do you know if they are still in business? I called 212-732-0850 but that's a disconnected number. Thanks.

                                                                      1. re: muchnoh

                                                                        Yes, they're still there. Not sure what the number is though.

                                                                    2. re: chalkman

                                                                      ..and my favorite Chinese/Malaysian jerky in NYC is Ling Kee, at 42 Canal St. right near the East Broadway F station. I like it much better than New Beef King, but haven't had Ping's in ages. Might have to do a taste test one of these weekends.

                                                                      This is all relative, of course. Even the lamest fresh Chinese-style jerky is really good stuff.

                                                                      1. re: hatless

                                                                        That's then name of it! I brought it up earlier in the thread and didn't remember the name of it. Tiny hole in the wall place? Very narrow? Love that place.

                                                                    3. cafe rouge in berkeley apparently makes great jerky. anyone ever try it?

                                                                      1. Bourgeois's Meat Market in Schreiver Louisiana makes good quality beef jerky on site daily.

                                                                        1. You know, I don't know how good it is, but I am fascinated by Green Light Jerky. There was one positive post about it on the SF board. They sell online. Here's a repeat of my post from the SF board ... since few people follow links ... well, I rarely do

                                                                          Green Light Jerky is high on my to-try list. In addition to regular flavors they have some interesting flavors like ginger cilantro, vodka onion, prime rib dinner (with horseradish) and root beer fire.

                                                                          And the BEST part ... no preservatives or junk in it. They plan to introduce some organic jerky in the future. They use local products from vendors like the Perfect Puree of Napa Valley and George Chiala Farms in Morgan Hill.

                                                                          This has been one of the most interesting product developments I've seen in a long time. The owner, Matthew Klapper, started selling his product through a hip hop forum. Reading that thread has been a lot of fun.

                                                                          It was pure and honest food love with Matthew doing a back and forth on how each batch was going and the revisions based on feedback ... what's the perfect root beer, what's the best horseradish. It was also interesting in watching the steps a company needs to go through in terms of starting up.

                                                                          What was interesting about this was it wasn't food forum people chatting it up about the next great find. So it was kind of pure. People who just fell in love with the jerky and I caught the enthusiasm and really am looking forward to trying it.

                                                                          There was a wide variety of comments including this one guy called Archer who I WiSH would participate on Chowhound because I loved his comments and he was honest when something didn't work ... one Archer comment ...

                                                                          "Ginger Cilantro and Garlic Parmesan. Both are superb. The Ginger Cilantro is my fave so far - both ingredients shine while not overpowering each other. The flavor of the beef comes through at a perfect level as well. It has a really nice earthy green flavor to it. Hard to describe. The Garlic Parmesan also kicks! Subtle hints of cheese throughout with nice salty garlic overtone "

                                                                          There were a lot of funny, raw comments from the hip hop community ...

                                                                          "I unassumingly unleash the Vodka Onion & JJS on our hosts ... "fellas, try this and tell me what you think.. and be F#####G honest". Like a pack of wild hogs, they tore the bag TO SHREDS in minutes.. they couldn't get enough of it "

                                                                          Again, what was cool was that even though the owner (who worked a few years in a professional kitchen ) was a community member ... KlappDOgg ... people didn't hold back when something didn't work ... and he listened and tweaked the product till it was perfect.

                                                                          The name came from one of KlappDOgg's favorite songs called “Green Light Now Begin” from Blackaliciuos, a local hip hop group.

                                                                          Has anyone tried it yet?


                                                                          Here was the positive comment

                                                                          2 Replies
                                                                          1. re: rworange

                                                                            I love Green Light Jerky! I’ve been on a quest to find the beef jerky I remembered as a kid. I read all the Chowhound postings on jerky – tried a few – ordered Green Light online and am so glad I did.

                                                                            I’m pretty picky about my jerky – it can’t be that thick, sweet, sticky stuff that they can’t call jerky but have to call beef strips. I don’t like it when it’s too salty or fake smoky – but it still has to be flavorful – and I definitely can’t abide rubbery.

                                                                            Green Light Jerky avoids all of these pitfalls to make my perfect jerky. It is on the dryer side, cut along the grain into long pieces. I think the “Classic” is my favorite – it has subtle flavorings that really bring out the beef taste in the jerky. This is what I think of as a true, unadorned beef jerky. My next favorite, I think, is the “Ginger Cilantro Turkey Jerky.” Definitely not your standard jerky! I know it’s right there in the name, but it is still amazing just how much of the ginger and cilantro you can taste in it…it is wonderful! And, of course, I always like the spicy, and their “A Bit Spicy” is the “Classic” with a kick.

                                                                            In addition to the fabulous flavors, I, like the previous poster, love that Green Light Jerky contains no additives, preservatives, chemicals, or other things you wouldn’t think about putting into the food you make at home.

                                                                            1. re: rworange

                                                                              Next time you get up to Santa Rosa, and check out Lola's... they have some very good bulk dried skirt steaks... you will find them in the meat department next to the salt cod.

                                                                            2. Jerky from Gartner's meats in Portland, OR is good stuff. Big, thick, smoky pieces of dried steak--chewy, but too thick to be dried-out. It appears they will ship, though I've always purchased it in person.

                                                                              Gartner's Country Meat Market
                                                                              7450 NE Killingsworth St, Portland, OR 97218

                                                                              1. check out the article in yesterday's NYTimes food section on artisnal jerky

                                                                                1. I have found the best jerky I have every had. Here is the link.....


                                                                                  These jerky products are VERY healthy! Here is an excerpt from their website:

                                                                                  BEEF JERKY NEVER TASTED THIS GOOD!
                                                                                  Jerky Direct products provide a healthy, all natural source of protein. Many of our products contain no preservatives, no added MSG, no nitrites, no Erythorbate, no artificial ingredients, and are only minimally processed. Check each product for more specific nutritional information. This unique product is a staple of health conscious customers and those who demand a top quality product at a great price.

                                                                                  Our Jerky is handmade in our USDA certified smokehouse using superior quality top round beef. It's seasoned with our secret blend of spices, and slow smoked to perfection with real burning hickory.

                                                                                  1. well I don't know if there's any really good jerky that's specifically JERKY - but it's all just dried meat - most cultures have some form of dried meat. The best dried beef I've had is Bindenfleisch (a.k.a. Bündnerfleisch), it's delicious. I wikipedia'ed it and found an Italian version called Bresaola, and a French one called Brési.

                                                                                    1. Homemade jerky seems to be more costly than store bought, though it can be much better. Try this thing that I did once by accident.
                                                                                      Get your fridge good and cold, almost freezing.
                                                                                      Trim and marinate a ribeye in a good salty marinade with plent of smoke. (worchesterchire, SALT, hickory smoke, and whatever other goodies you want)
                                                                                      Put the ribeye on a rack that allows air to all sides. Leave it for a day or two to dry up.
                                                                                      Put it in the oven with the door open at about 170 for a few hours. Don't let it dry untill completely dry. The goal is to get it dry enough that it is salty to the taste (that salt concentration will keep bacteria from growing)
                                                                                      I used to make a few of these when in the army. I'd take them out to the field, and have a great piece of meat after a week. Just make sure and keep them in an airy place.

                                                                                      1. Smoky Davis, State St., Boise, ID and Oberto is good especially the turkey teriyaki. Mexican carne seca is real good but it differs from restaruant to restaruant.

                                                                                        1. when I was a kid, we sometimes stopped at this shop. My brothers and I loved the beef jerky there. http://www.dietrichsmeats.com/smokedm...

                                                                                          1. here's a source for some exotic jerky:

                                                                                            Restvedt & Son Meats
                                                                                            US Highway 287
                                                                                            Ennis MT 58729

                                                                                            (406) 682-7306

                                                                                            we got some great buffalo jerky there. They have a full line of fresh and smoked meats and fish, and welcome special orders.

                                                                                            1 Reply
                                                                                            1. re: toodie jane

                                                                                              Indeed it does. I make it myself. I have a dehydrator, but prefer to make my jerky in the oven. I cut long strips & hang them over the oven grates with a cookie sheet below to catch the drips. If you want chewy jerkey, slice the meat with the grain. I sometimes slice it across the grain to get more crumbly jerky that I use for seasoning stuff when camping. It's also fine for eating as is.

                                                                                            2. Woody's Smokehouse in central Texas converted me from a jerky hater to a lover. They have beef, pork, turkey, venison, elk, buffalo jerky smoked with a variety of seasonings.


                                                                                              1. Wow! Old post but goody, I just found it. Yes, quality beef jerky exists. I make it for my carnivore daughter, (she eats 2 lbs in one sitting!) along with turkey jerky and wild salmon jerky. I'll be happy to share a recipe - I have a few - if anyone wants them. You need a food dehydrator though. You can use the Alton Brown method - check the Food Network site, but that takes too long for my family.

                                                                                                1. Give http://www.AsianBeefJerky.com a try. They only have three selections but they were great.

                                                                                                  1. http://www.worldkitchens.net/

                                                                                                    ^ I bought this stuff off of amazon.com last year and loved it. The price is great, and so is the flavor. Wal-Mart actually carries it now, so I know I don't have to order it online any more. I have a feeling the beef isn't from the states, though (probably why it's so cheap).

                                                                                                    1. Bernhard Meat Market in Kerrville, Texas makes excellent jerky -- beef, venison and turkey. See their website, bernhardmeatmarket.com, and check out their Processing pricelist. Their jerky is much better than their website.

                                                                                                      1. Although this is a really old post, another jerky place is Angelo's in Sonoma. He has a bunch of flavors, free samples to see which one you like. There are 2 shops, one over on Old Adobe (close to Petaluma, this is is "home" place) and an outlet on Arnold drive a few miles north of Sear's Point. Angelo's also has smoked meats and sausages that are very good.

                                                                                                        Angelo's Meats
                                                                                                        2700 Old Adobe Rd, Petaluma, CA 94954

                                                                                                        Angelo's Wine Country Deli
                                                                                                        23400 Arnold Dr, Sonoma, CA 95476

                                                                                                        1 Reply
                                                                                                        1. re: dkenworthy

                                                                                                          If you are ever in Vancouver, try this place. Seriously addictive. Here's a link to someone else who gave it as Christmas presents (note that it's also available freshly made on the spot): http://mydinnertable.typepad.com/home...

                                                                                                          Bee Kim Heng Beef & Pork Jerky Ltd
                                                                                                          4194 Fraser Street
                                                                                                          Vancouver, BC V5V 4E8, Canada
                                                                                                          (604) 875-8688

                                                                                                        2. I know it's an old post, but I have to add my favorite: Louie's in Wisconsin. You can buy some of their jerkies online - http://louiesfinermeats.com/. Favorite flavor is by far the Bloody Mary jerky. Has hints of celery salt and spice and so much flavor. The porks are good - honey pork is nice and tasty.