The Don is the self-proclaimed “Godfather of all Jerky” and they drive the point home on the package with the Green, White and Red Italian flag stripes and the 45 (ish) caliber pistol artwork used in place of the “r” in Jerky like the Sopranos. This Jerky is marketed by The Don Jerky Factory hailing from the mean-streets of Arcadia, California. This is a private labelled brand likely from KMB Foods, Inc., who private labels jerky for several companies.
This is one of the most ‘transparent’ Jerky’s on the market as the packaging is clear except for the applied (private) label. You can flip over the package a clearly see the Jerky you about to consume. It is USDA packaged with full disclosure of the nutrition and ingredients which are printed ever-so-small on the label. The first thing you notice when you tear open the package is the strong smoky aroma. The ingredients add a little insight to the Italian connection as the list includes both anchovies and tomatoes! This is a spice mixture not seen regularly in Jerky.
This is slab style Jerky and the texture of The Don is dry to the touch and firm with little resistance as you tear it apart. When you put a piece in your mouth you will notice there is little to no flavor on the tongue. It’s dry and the flavor needs to be released but when you start chewing finally a rush of flavor hits your palate. As your mouth begins to moisten the tangy Worcestershire and hint of tomato flavor is readily apparent this is followed quickly by the heat of the aged cayenne hot sauce used in the recipe.
The meat has a strong chew bordering on tough, several pieces in the bag left muscle tissue that didn’t easily break-down. Some people will look at this as the ‘bonus chew’. You can work this little nugget in you mouth for quite a while and it will keep releasing its flavor until it is discarded or swallowed whole.
I purchased this Jerky at one of my favorite watering holes The Beach Ball at the pier in Newport Beach. The 2 oz bag was $4.00 (at the bar! March 2015) This price point in a store puts this Jerky right in the middle of the value range at $2 an ounce (at a bar its downright cheap!) This is not a sweet jerky but it has both Corn Syrup and High Fructose Corn Syrup included in the ingredients and the carbs come in pretty high at 8 grams. The Sodium comes in at 410 mg per ounce so it get 5 heart bombs.
At a 2.5 overall score, I wouldn’t go out of my way to seek out The Don Spicy Original Jerky but when you are at the bar it is a value-driven, high-protein, salty snack that goes great with a cold beverage. I can tell you from first-hand experience it tastes even better while sitting at a bar while looking out at the sunset over Catalina Island on the California coast of the Pacific Ocean!