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Ethical Eating

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

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.

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.

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.

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?

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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Brett Gillin

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