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Reviews > Food > Packaged Meals > Bridgford Pizza, Beef, BBQ > Test Report by Coy Ray StarnesBridgford Pizza, Beef, BBQ
Review by Coy Starnes
Initial Report: January 11, 2019
Long Term Report: April 26, 2019
I live in Northeast Alabama. I enjoy backpacking, hunting, fishing and kayaking. I enjoy hiking with family and friends but also hike solo occasionally. Most of my hiking has been in the Southeastern US. I hike throughout the year but actually enjoy late fall or early spring the most with some winter hiking mixed in. I don't like the hot and humid weather of summer unless I can escape to the mountains where it is cooler. My style is slow and steady and my gear is light. I will sacrifice weight for comfort and durability to a degree. A typical 3-season load for me is around 20 lb (9 kg) not counting food and water.
Initial Report: January 11, 2019
Bridgford makes a variety of what they call "on the go" wraps, sandwiches and pizza. They even have similar sweet treats but I won’t be reviewing those. I will be reviewing the Mexican style beef wrap, pork with BBQ wrap, and pepperoni pizza with cheese and sauce which are new to the Bridgford lineup. They are not actually full meals but I would consider them more than a snack. They come packaged in such a way that they will keep for up to three years from the manufacture's date at 80 F (27 C) and six months at 100 F (38 C). The date on the package is a "best used by"date and appears to be 3 years from the date it was packaged. In other words, these are ideal for outdoor trips where means of keeping food cold are problematic if not impossible. This also means they can serve as emergency rations. They can be eaten right out of the pack but can be heated in the field by either placing a packet in boiling water for 6 minutes or heating with a flameless MRE meal heater. Microwave and toaster heating instructions are on the packet but I don’t typically carry those with me when backpacking... I like cold sandwiches and pizza so unless it is really cold out I probably will just eat at room, or more accurately, my pack temperature.
My interest in testing the Bridgford snacks is two-fold. First off, I am lazy and don’t like to cook after a hard day on the trail. And secondly, I like variety because, energy bars, instant oatmeal, ramen noodles, tuna fish and cashews get tiresome after awhile. I know I can’t wait to hit a burger joint on the ride home after a few days in the woods. I’m hoping theses are flavorful enough to satisfy that part of my taste buds while still in the woods. Oh and BTW, these are not ultralight foods. I see them more suitable for one or two day/night hikes but could see carrying a few of them along with lighter options for longer trips. Along those lines, some of the items are more calorie dense which tells me those may have a higher fat content. I am glad to see they have no trans fats. I personally try to stick with a low carb diet, and while I would not consider these as low carb, when I’m hiking I feel I can eat and burn carbs more efficiently. However this review is not going to be so much about the nutritional value of these foods but rather focused on how I like them. One other caveat, all the foods I’m testing are fairly high in sodium. I personally maintain a pretty salty diet but it is worth mentioning for those who prefer not to.
I’ll start with the pizza. I won’t list all the ingredients as the list is long and tedious. The package says 6.2 oz (176 gm). However, I’m pretty sure this is just the food inside the package. I weighed the unopened package at 8.45 oz (240 gm). A serving contains 280 calories and there are 2 servings in a packet. More interestingly to me, the pizza claims it contains 90 calories per ounce. Each serving has 280 calories, 10 g of protein, 29 g of carbs and 12 grams of fat along with 850 mg of sodium.
Next up is the bbq pork in a flour tortilla. The package says it weighs 4.4 oz (125 g). I weighed the unopened package in at 5.3 oz (150 gm). This time there are 2 wraps in a package but it is considered just one serving. A serving contains 360 calories, 14 g of protein, 56 g of carbs and 8 g of fat along with 990 mg of sodium. This time the calories per ounce is listed at 132.
And last, the Mexican style beef in a flour tortilla. I weighed the unopened package in at 5.7 oz (162 g). As with the BBQ pork, there are 2 wraps in a package and it is still just one serving. Each serving contains 370 calories, 18 g of protein, 49 g of carbs and 9 g of fat along with 1190 mg of sodium. This time the calories per ounce is listed at 136 which is slightly more dense than the BBQ pork wrap. From a pure weight weenie standpoint, this one would be at the top of the list.
My Initial Thoughts and Impression
It’s hard to say much without actually tasting the product but I’ll save all that information for the Long Term Report. The thought of going stove-less on a multi-day hike has always intrigued me. I’m sure I would miss my hot cocoa in the morning but other than that the lazy aspect sure is appealing. I am impressed that the packages are shelf stable for 3 years but wonder what kind of preservatives are used. It may be challenging to keep the food warm while backpacking since the packages are a little big for my pocket so I’ll have to see if I resort to heating them before warmer weather arrives. They seem a little big for the solo titanium cook-pot I normally carry. I also like that the food is sealed in a waterproof package. This is perhaps not super important when backpacking but I kayak camp as well and this is a big plus on the water.
Long Term Report: April 26, 2019
Test Locations and Conditions
All testing occurred near my home in Grant Alabama. I ate the various go wraps while on longer day hikes, 3 overnight hikes and during one long bike ride. Temperatures have ranged from around 40 F (4 C) to near 80 F (27 C). My overnighter on February 5th saw a high of 70 F (21 C) and a low of 54 F (12 C). My overnighter on March 11th saw a high of 51 F (11 C) and a low of 43 F (6 C). My last overnighter on April 23rd saw a high of 77 F (25 C) and a low of 50 F (10 C). All the overnight hikes were fairly short, averaging about 4 miles (6 km) distance and about 400 ft (122 m) elevation gain. I also ate one of the Pizza snacks at work and heated it in a toaster oven.
Field Test Results
I won’t go into the boring details of everything I ate on each outing. I will tell what I thought about each Bridgford snack product. I’ll start with my favorite, which would be the BBQ pork wrap. I ate one packet for supper on an overnighter and the other at the halfway point of a 22.6 mile (32 km) bike ride. I ate them cold both times. I say them because inside the wrapper are two individual wraps. I wouldn’t have minded them being separate because I had to force down the last few bites on the bike ride, not because it was unpleasant to eat, I just wasn’t all that hungry. I also knew I had a long ride home and didn’t want to feel stuffed. I would describe the flavor as very sweet BBQ. I was anticipating (or hoping for) a flavor similar to of one of my favorite Bridgford snacks, Sweet Baby Ray’s beef jerky, unfortunately, it was not. I had to drink plenty of water to get it all down, not because of the texture or anything like that, but more because the flavor was just too sweet for my taste buds. I’m eating the wraps during my bike ride in this photo.
My next favorite was the Mexican style beef. I was expecting a spicy flavor but found it kind of bland. Without plenty of water to drink I doubt I could have finished both wraps. In the photo below I’m eating a wrap during a break on a long day hike. I think my dog was jealous.
My least favorite was definitely the Pizza. I was surprised and slightly disappointed because I love cold pizza. I ate my first one on an overnight hike. But since it was wrapped in two sections I saved the other half. A few days later I carried the other half to work. I heated it in our small counter top toaster oven at approximately 350 F (177 C) for 8 minutes. I was curious if heating it would help with the flavor, it did, but not much. I was also hungrier this time and that probably helped. I have not eaten the remaining pack of pizza but have it saved for an emergency situation.
I would hate to end the report on such a down note so I will conclude by saying, some folks might find the pizza delicious. I know my wife and I have entirely different taste in some foods. I love spicy food, pickled okra and pickled asparagus. She likes milder flavors and does not like the pickled okra or asparagus at all. I did find the two wrap flavors (BBQ and Mexican beef) were good enough that I plan on exploring the other flavors offered when I see them in a store. I especially liked how easy the snacks were to carry, whether on my bike in the frame pack, or in a running vest I used on several day hikes. Not having to worry about a stove was nice and the packages were easy to open with my bare hands. One last thought, I like the idea of keeping some emergency food on hand. I live in tornado alley and my home was without power for over a week in April of 2011 due to a major tornado outbreak which damaged the electrical grid. I’ve also been without power several times for several days during ice storms. In the meantime I’ll continue to enjoy the various beef jerky flavors and summer sausage from Bridgford like I always have.
This concludes my testing of the Bridgford foods. My thanks to BackpackGearTest.org and Bridgford for this testing opportunity!
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Reviews > Food > Packaged Meals > Bridgford Pizza, Beef, BBQ > Test Report by Coy Ray Starnes
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