I'm Eating What?! Jack Link's Chicken Nugget Jerky

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When it's my turn to pick something for this weekly post, I'll be the first to admit I'm not too adventurous. Instead, I'm looking for something that is strange enough to pass as exotic yet not so strange as to give me anxiety thinking about what it will do to my taste buds and or stomach. I'm looking for something that I might actually buy a second time or even recommend that other humans consume. I might have to rethink my strategy after this one.

I was browsing the aisles of my local CVS around 11 p.m. looking for God knows what when I ran into their beef-jerky section. Among the stacks of Slim Jims and teriyaki jerkey strips, I noticed something new. Jack Links, purveyors of all meats seasoned and dried in preparation of the impending apocalypse, is packaging a new breed of salted chunks of meat: Flamin' Buffalo Style Chicken Nuggets. I love chicken and all things jerkyed (although I may regret typing that once jerkyed platypus shows up on my desk), so I decided to spend the $6 and give it a shot.

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Aside from the fact that this is cooked, dried chicken in a bag (which has probably been sitting at CVS for months), I didn't think it could be too bad. Even the little window on the back of the package didn't scare me too much. Until I peered just a little closer. The "nuggets" that were visible through the window looked more like tumors than nuggets. Jack Link probably made a good call going the nugget angle, as chicken tumors might not be a hit with the kids.

Just to prove that my choices aren't very adventurous when it comes to this blog, almost every meat-eating person at the office gathers around to give these chicken nuggets a shot. I open the bag and inhale deeply. The smell of preservatives and vinegar fills my nostrils. It doesn't have that "sting your nose and clear your sinuses" spicy smell of fresh buffalo wings. Instead, it's got a "these wings have been in the car too long" smell. I pour the contents of the bag, silica package and all, onto a white sheet of paper.

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Everyone's first reaction to seeing the chicken "nuggets" out of the bag is the same: dog food. Little chicken tumor dog treats. Just before my stomach can shut down, I jam a chunk into my mouth and chew. True to the packaging, these chicken "nuggets" are indeed tender. It's like biting into a chunk of buffalo-chicken-flavored Bubalicious. And it tastes great, just like a leftover piece of chicken wing left swimming in the sauce too long... At first.

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After about a minute, an unmistakable taste lingers on everyone's taste buds. It's that metallic aftertaste you get with any piece of heavily processed and preserved meat. About a minute after swallowing, I can't remember if I've just eaten chicken jerky or a handful of pennies. Oh disappointment, why do you have to follow joy so closely? Can't we have a little more time alone?

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Who should eat these? Astronauts, people camping for more than three weeks at a time, people with a magical ability to ignore aftertastes, mageirocophobics with a hankering for buffalo chicken, and mythical creatures. If you don't find yourself in one of these groups, it's probably a good idea to either grab some wings from a restaurant or forgo buffalo chicken until you've got a few more minutes on your hands.
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