Bridgford Sweet Baby Ray's Beef Jerky
TEST SERIES BY LARRY KIRSCHNER
INITIAL REPORT - October 7, 2012
LONG-TERM REPORT - December 27, 2012
asklarry98 at hotmail dot com
5' 9" (1.75 m)
205 lb (92 kg)
I've been an intermittent camper/paddler since my teens, but now that my kids are avid Boy Scouts,
I've caught the backpacking bug. I typically do 8-10 weekend hikes per year, and have spent time over
the past few years backpacking the Philmont Scout Ranch in New Mexico and canoeing the Canadian wilderness. I like to travel "in comfort", but I've shrunk to medium weight, and continue to work toward going
lighter and longer. With all of my investment into these ventures, I expect my wife and I will continue to trek
long after the kids are gone…
October 7, 2012
PRODUCT INFORMATION & SPECIFICATIONS
Manufacturer: Bridgford Foods Corporation
Year of Manufacture: 2012
Country of Manufacture: USA
Manufacturer's Website: http://www.bridgford.com
MSRP: USD $23.94 for 6 x 3.25 oz/92 g of either flavor. A 'sampler pack' containing 3 x
3.0 oz/85 g of both flavors can also be purchased.
for USD $23.94
For this test, I am testing the 3 oz/85 g packs.
Measured weight of unopened package: 3.53 oz/100 g (average of 2 packs)
Package dimensions: 225 x 173 mm (8.9 x 6.8 in)
Bridgford Sweet Baby Ray's Beef Jerky is a new flavor of beef jerky, one of my favorite
protein sources on the trail. I am not going to describe the process for making jerky,
but it is basically a preserved and dried form of meat, which can be taken on the trail,
as it does not require refrigeration. Sweet Baby Ray's jerky is based on Sweet Baby
Ray's (SBR) barbecue sauce, meaning the flavor of this jerky may be different
from 'unflavored' jerky. Sweet Baby Ray's jerky comes in two flavors-original recipe and
honey chipotle. The nutritional description for the flavors is the same, and is
shown below for the Original flavor, as downloaded from the Bridgford website:
On the package, the nutritional information is the same, although it is indicated that the package
containes 3 x 1 oz/28 g servings. consistent with the stated weight of 3 oz/85 g.
In terms of the product itself, SBR's comes in a sealed plastic package which has a tear
off strip at the top. The package is flexible and I think it would be easily stuffed in a
There is a small amount of air trapped in the package meaning it would take up a
little extra space in my pack, but the package is close to flat. About 1 in/2.5 cm from the top
of the package is a resealable zip closure, meaning that if I don't eat the whole package at
once, I can seal it up for later. There is also a small silica pack in the bag to keep out
As is typical for beef jerky, the product is composed of small fragments of dried beef. Some
of these are 1-2 inches in size, and others are small shredded pieces. The selling point of
SBR's jerky is the use of SBR sauce, as the packaging indicates, "The sauce is the boss".
This indicates that this jerky should be flavored like barbecue sauce, either regular sauce
or a honey-chipotle flavor.
INSTRUCTIONS and WARRANTY
There are only two items worth mentioning. First, the silica packet is NOT to be eaten. Because
this is a consumable, it has an optimal shelf life, which is indicated by a "best before" date
clearly marked on the back of the package, just to the right of the Bridgford logo in the photo below.
For this jerky received in September 2012, the product is best by
January 2014, suggesting about a 15-month window.
INITIAL IMPRESSIONS and TRYING IT OUT
To get an initial impression for this report, I ate one packet of original flavor for lunch at
work, and a packet of honey chipotle for lunch a few days later . I typically eat a fairly light
lunch, and one packet was plenty for a good lunch. In fact, after eating a pack of SBR's for
lunch around noon, I really didn't feel hungry again until close to 7 pm. Of course, I burn
less energy at work than I do on the trail.
The first impression I got when eating the SBR's original recipe occurred as soon as I opened
up the pack, when I was hit by the smell of barbecue sauce. This stuff is potent! The texture of
this product is essentially the same as other types of beef jerky I have eaten. It is a little
chewy, but this is expected. The jerky has a strong barbecue flavor which I liked. It is a
little sweet but not spicy. I liked it both the first time I ate it, and then later when it
repeated on me (which is fairly typical for me when I eat beef jerky). After eating, my fingers
felt like they had a light coating of sauce, so I had to wash them before getting back to work.
On the trail, I might just lick them clean.
I didn't eat the honey chipotle flavor until a few days later, but my impression was similar.
This also has a very potent but delicious smell. I didn't notice a huge difference in flavor,
although maybe if I had done a side-by-side test I would be able to tell. My impression is that
this sauce is a little spicier, but not a lot. In any event, I liked the taste of this flavor
EXPECTATIONS for the Bridgford Foods Sweet Baby Ray's Beef Jerky:
After sampling this product at work, I'm expecting to enjoy it quite a bit on the trail.
I really like the barbeque flavor. I also like the fact that eating the jerky gave me a
sustained feeling of fullness, so I expect that eating the jerky will give me a lot of energy
THE STORY SO FAR
- Excellent flavor
- Re-closable packaging
- Sustained feeling of fullness
- Is the smell so potent it will attract animals (e.g. bears?)
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December 27, 2012
FIELD CONDITIONS AND EXPERIENCE
Over the past few months, I have eaten Sweet Baby Ray's Beef Jerky in a variety of settings,
- A weekend 7 mi/10.2 km backpacking trip in October to Wildcat Hollow, in Glouster, OH.
Weather was intermittently rainy with overnight temperatures that were colder than expected,
reaching a low of 32 F/0 C (See foliage in the photo below)
- A weekend camping trip (with about 1 mi/1.6 km backpacking) in Newark, OH
- An overnight camping trip to Marengo, OH
- After working out at my local gym
- For lunch at work
(Hey, that's not a stick, it's a stick bug!)
Overall, I have quite enjoyed the Sweet Baby Ray's jerky. Even after eating a bunch of the
packages, I still find the barbeque flavor of the original recipe quite nice. It is not
overpowering but adds to the taste. In my initial report, I noted that I didn't find the honey
chipotle flavor that different. I now stand corrected. The honey chipotle is MUCH spicier than
the original. I quite enjoy spicy food, so I really liked the taste. However, the bottom line
is this stuff packs a bit of a punch, so I would not recommend it for people who do not care
for spicy food.
When I ate the jerky on the trail, I felt full but not stuffed, which was good. One bag of
jerky was enough for a complete breakfast on the trail, and almost enough for a full lunch.
In my experience, once I started a packet, I always finished it. Most of the jerky pieces are
a good size, but there were always a bunch of little tiny fragments at the bottom that I had to
scrape around to get, or sometimes just pour the packet contents into my mouth (after removing
the silica packet, of course). I found this to be mildly annoying, although I'm not sure there
is much that can be done about it. Although this test only lasted about 3 months, I did not
note any significant change in the consistency of the jerky over this time frame.
The other note I made in the IR was that I was afraid the smell would be too potent. I am happy
to say that this is definitely not the case. When I opened up some Sweet Baby Ray's on the trail,
it did not have an overpowering scent. No bears appeared either, so my concerns were overstated.
The other plus of the re-closable bag is that it made a handy place to stash trail trash.
Overall, I definitely enjoyed the Sweet Baby Ray's jerky, and could see getting a few bags
to take with me backpacking in the future.
Things I liked about Bridgford's Sweet Baby Ray's Beef Jerky:
Things I disliked about the jerky:
- Good taste (although honey chipotle pretty spicy)
- A filling snack (or breakfast) to eat on the trail
- Re-sealable bag handy
- Lot of little pieces of jerky at the bottom
Thanks to Bridgford Foods for providing this tasty trail food for testing, and to BackpackGearTest.org for giving me
the chance to participate in the evaluation process.
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Read more reviews of Bridgford Foods gear
Read more gear reviews by Larry Kirschner