Sweet Baby Ray’s barbecue sauces were first introduced in 1985. Their philosophy and slogan is “The Sauce is the Boss”. Bridgford Foods Corp. started business in 1932 specializing in multiple food products, not just meat snacks, and currently have about 500 employees. They have a deep distribution network, and are likely in the top five for jerky sales in North America. The Sweet Baby Ray’s jerky brand name is manufactured and distributed by Bridgford Foods Corp., and they are located in Chicago, Illinois, at least in 2013. Today, their headquarters has moved to Anaheim, California.
The first review for Sweet Baby Ray’s will focus on a 3 ounce/85 gram bag of their honey barbecue flavored beef jerky. This jerky bag was purchased at a Dollar General store in North Arlington, New Jersey.
Ingredients: Beef, Water, Seasoning Blend (Salt, Brown Sugar, Sugar, Mustard, Monosodium Glutamate, Dehydrated Garlic, Red Pepper, Sodium Erythorbate, Onion Powder, Spice Extractive), Brown Sugar, Sweet Baby Ray’s Jerky Base (Vinegar Powder [Dextrin, Modified Food Starch, Vinegar Solids], Tomato Powder, Pineapple Juice Powder [Maltodextrin, Pineapple Juice], Worcestershire Sauce Powder [Distilled Vinegar, Molasses, Corn Syrup, Salt, Caramel Color, Garlic Powder, Sugar, Spices, Tamarind, Natural Flavor and Sulfiting Agents], Maltodextrin], Natural Smoke Flavor, Spices, and not more than 2% Silicon Dioxide added to prevent caking), Honey Powder (Maltodextrin, Honey), Sodium Nitrite. Allergen Warnings: Soy, Wheat
This beef used is not guaranteed to be free of growth hormones or additional antibiotics. Also, the beef is not guaranteed to have at least partial free range access to graze on grass. As a result, the highest ingredient rating that can be awarded is a Good (8/10) rating.
The liquid marinade consists of just plain old water. Every other liquid listed is in powdered form.
The sugar level is high at 7 grams of sugar per 28 grams of jerky to lose a rating. Our preference is 5 grams of sugar or less per 28 grams of jerky for a sweet based flavor as we have here. The salt level is high at 470mg of salt per 28 grams of jerky to lose a rating. Our preference is 350mg of salt or under per 28 grams of jerky.
This jerky does not qualify to be sodium nitrite free, as sodium erythorbate and sodium nitrite are used as preservatives to lose a rating. Unhealthy monosodium glutamate (MSG) is used outright to lose another rating.
These strips are a mixture of medium to small in size, and they are sliced to a medium thickness. The texture is on the dry side, but not too dry, and it requires a reasonable amount of effort to chew. There are some visible signs of fat that accentuate the natural beef flavor. The aroma is an appealing fragrance of a barbecue/ketchup sauce.
Immediately this great tasting Sweet Baby Ray’s honey barbecue sauce starts to take notice. It is a sweet tasting barbecue sauce, but the sweetness level is within reason. While ketchup is not a listed ingredient, this Sweet Baby Ray’s honey barbecue sauce tastes quite similar to ketchup, and makes you want to visit your local grocery store to purchase a bottle.
Some other flavors that jump out are a mild level of saltiness, and light levels of garlic and onion. Despite being a sweet based flavor, there is still a reasonable amount of natural beef flavor present. The only minor complaint on this flavor is that we could not really detect the taste of honey.
Overall, this is a definitely a great and simple jerky. This jerky is addictive as heck, and the Sweet Baby Ray’s honey barbecue sauce speaks for itself.
Paul mentioned, “Whoever Sweet Baby Ray is, he’s invented quite the flavor here.”
Similarly Stéphane mentioned, “The Sweet Baby Ray BBQ sauce is the real deal and the star of the show. It has a great BBQ flavor, it is very tasty with great depth of flavor while not being too sweet. The natural beef flavor does not get overwhelmed and this is not a small feat where I find most BBQ sauce take center stage and take away from the beef flavor instead of complementing the flavor profile.”
This resealable plastic bag has everything imprinted directly on to the bag itself, both on the front and back. There is a high resolution picture displayed on the front of a bottle of Sweet Baby Ray’s honey barbecue sauce.
The slogan for Bridgford Foods is “The Premium Brand”. Some facts displayed on this bag are “Still 3 ounces!”, “High in Protein”, “0g Trans Fat”, “Made With 100% American Beef”, “Gourmet Sauces”, “90 Calories” ,”0g Sat Fat”, “11g Protein”, and “Made in the USA”.
All bag categories are covered with this bag. There is a good blurb printed on the back describing Sweet Baby Ray’s and Bridgford Foods. Admirably, a toll free phone number is provided for customer inquiries. You are encouraged to follow Bridgford Foods on Facebook and Twitter. A QR code is displayed linking back to the Bridgford Foods web site.