What? You didn’t pull the turkey out of the freezer in time?
Well, there’s no reason that should get in the way of you enjoying a turkey dinner today — not if you’ve got a handy stash of meat bars.
Quickly gaining popularity on the protein bar scene, meat bars are made from nature’s original form of protein: meat. And no, they’re not your gas station variety of beef jerky.
Typically touted as a health food and quick to broadcast all the nitrate/ite-gluten-hormone-free labels they can claim, these bars have a growing fan base in the paleo crowd and others looking for an all-natural, convenient form of protein. Meat bars don’t just come with varied seasonings, you can pick your animal too — from ho-hum beef or chicken to the semi-exotic wild boar, buffalo or salmon. They are available at local health food stores for around $3, though you can find them online for less.
If the eyebrow you raised at “meat bar” is still up there, you’re not alone in your skepticism; we at Inland360 are equally suspicious of rectangular forms of meat. In the interest of the gastronomical well-being of our valued readers, we sampled a variety of meat bar options currently on the market:
Jack Links: Original Lil’ Chub Hickory Smoked Sausage
“It tastes like summer sausage.”
Conclusion: Selected merely as a control sample for the taste test, the Lil’ Chub is a shelf-stable meat source we all agreed tasted like the familiar summer sausage.
Tillamook Country Smoker: Hunter’s Sausage
“This has better flavor, better texture [than the Lil Chub].”
“It’s more smokey.”
“It’s a fine blend of beef and pork, though I prefer my meat sticks to be single sourced.”
“It has a heavy greasy taste.”
Conclusion: Also a familiar form and taste, this stick of processed beef and pork was ordinary but tasty.
Epic: Turkey with Almond and Cranberry
“Now see, that’s disgusting. I want my nitrates — bring my nitrates back.”
“It’s like they put an entire Thanksgiving meal into a bar.”
“It’s the herbs I’m not liking.”
“It makes me feel the least ill.”
Conclusion: If you want a convenient Thanksgiving dinner, this bar combines turkey, nuts and cranberries without the hours of preparation. This meat bar is Epic in name only — chances are your taste buds will find it “mediocre” at best.
Epic: Beef with Habanero, Cherry and Walnut
“Now, this texture is really soft.”
“It looks like chocolate — but then it’s meat.”
“It tastes like molasses to me.”
“They look like brownies. It makes you stop and pause before you put it in your mouth.”
“I like that cherry flavor in there.”
Conclusion: The add-ins to this bar seem to work a bit better than the turkey version. It’s ideal for someone who is craving brownies but knows they need a big chunk of meat instead.
Epic: Wild Boar with Uncured Bacon
“That one might be my favorite.”
“It’s not as salty as bacon or sausage.”
“I would eat that for lunch.”
Conclusion: If you like bacon and ham, you’ll have no beef with this bar. As a bonus, it may lead to speculative conversations about the virtue of Texas wild boars over those found in other regions.
Epic: Uncured Bacon, Pork and Maple
“This just tastes like ham.”
“It tastes like ground up ham.”
Conclusion: Similar to the aforementioned version, this bar has a nice breakfast-y twist that isn’t overly sweet.
While the meat bar samples largely exceeded expectations concerning palatability and provided a surprising range of flavors, they didn’t win any converts. Most of us would rather feed any protein cravings with a handful of nuts. And, although the packaging claimed this product was protein the way nature intended, one staffer echoed the collective sentiment best when she said:
“I don’t think nature intended this at all.”