I'm just going to come right out and say it: when I saw Cheese Jerky in the display case of a convenience store, my first reaction was, "Wow, that sounds like the most white trash, disgusting thing ever."
Then my brain shook its mouse, and got itself out of sleep mode. As soon as my logical thoughts kicked in I thought, "Hold on, this needs to be re-evaluated."
As you no doubt already know, the landmark case of McCulloch v. Maryland (1819), declared beef jerky to be one of the greatest foods in existence.
And despite the fact that I liked it better when string cheese came on the same sheet of packaging (the five sticks suspended within the wrapper, and you would tear them off one at a time), string cheese is also some of the finest cuisine in the land.
So my brain, somewhat embarrassed at its initial insults, went into overclocked calculation mode and spit out this result: This is amazing.
Of course, this result came while still missing some vital information: how it actually tasted, possibility of creepy textures, or the possibility that it tastes like cat food.
Needless to say, I bought it. This had to be some sort of taste extreme. It would either be incredible, or it would be vile. There could not be any middle ground.
In order to give this review some sense of legitimacy, I will mention Cheese Jerky's ingredients. For such a shady sounding concept, the ingredients list is surprisingly legitimate. Essentially just cheese and beef jerky, no bizarre science experiment ingredients. This is especially impressive for the beef jerky, which can often be made up of dozens of weird things. The quality of the jerky in Cheese Jerky is evident by its first three ingredients: Beef, Water, and Brown.
It's possible that my terrible picture is causing me to miss a few letters, but I think we're all okay with "Brown" being acceptable as an ingredient.
One thing Cheese Jerky doesn't really have going for it is looks. As you can see, without a wrapper or any sort of identification, this isn't the sort of snack you'd see and think, "Hm, that looks good! I have got to try that!" More likely, if you saw this sitting on a plate, you would just ask, "Is that... food?"
Luckily for Cheese Jerky, I'd have to assume that the people who not only like beef jerky and string cheese, but who actively crave them together, probably aren't too worried about aesthetics. The important question is: how does it taste?
Lady and gentleman, I am pleased to inform you that Cheese Jerky is awesome. It manages to dodge every one of the (numerous) ways this could have gone horribly wrong.
Before trying it, I had actually been almost expecting more of a cheese-covered-jerky taste and texture. Thankfully, this is not the case. Because that sounds kind of terrifying.
Most of the jerky pieces are very small. It's pretty much the jerky left at the bottom of the bag, after you've taken out all the big pieces. And since the pieces are too small to pick up, you try to pour it in your mouth, but they don't come out, so you tap the bottom of the bag, and the entire mound of jerky proceeds to fall all over your face.
Those kind of pieces.
And thinking about it, small pieces are perfect. The idea of these two tastes together is interesting, but the idea of these two textures together seems annoying. Chewy and Chewier. Instead, with the little pieces of jerky, it gets its point across without being gross.
The cheese itself is quite good, as well. I hate it when string cheese is too soft, and this cheese had a nice resilience to it. I'm tempted to use a phrase like al dente, but let's not get ridiculous.
There's really not too much else to say. McCartney and Lennon, Morrissey and Marr, beef jerky and string cheese. A new Dream Team for the ages!
Besides the product itself, Cheese Jerky's web site is surprisingly intriguing. Mostly because one of the first things you notice is a large picture advertising the "Cheese Jerky Diet". When you click on it, it leads you to a suspicious "Coming Soon" page. There's some other information, but probably the best part about the site is that it lets you know that its CEO, Ross Segel, has the title of "Chief Snack Technician". Which really, is one of the coolest job titles imaginable.
And there you have it. When you even heard the name "Cheese Jerky", you knew it would be either one of the best foods imaginable, or a horror show. And despite the fact that either result would still be interesting, I am proud to put my good name (?) on the line to give Cheese Jerky two thumbs up.
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