Jack Link’s jerky infuses its wild side with some flamin’ hot flavors

Jack Link's meat snacks enjoyed on a road trip, photo provided by Jack Link's
Jack Link's meat snacks enjoyed on a road trip, photo provided by Jack Link's /

Although the brand’s Sasquatch character might happily roam the woods to feed its wild side, Jack Link’s jerky brings that taste of adventure directly to store shelves. The meat snack product gives consumers a protein-rich option that delivers big, bold taste. As the brand expands its flavor options, it takes inspiration from other iconic Frito-Lay snacks.

Snack crossovers have become more common. Throughout the Frito-Lay line, Lay’s chips have adopted Funyon onion and other bold flavors. One of the more popular crossovers has been with the Flamin’ Hot category.

More and more consumers are craving big, bold flavors. Whether it is the global cuisines’ influence on the food space or people moving away from bland and boring, the potential red-tinged Cheetle hands is not a deterrent.

During a recent conversation with Chris Coleman, senior director of R&D at PepsiCo foods, we discussed the Jack Link’s Flamin’ Hot offering, why this crossover works, and what people can expect from that first bite.

Woven into the Jack Link’s jerky brand is the idea of an adventurous spirit. Coleman shared, “consumers are always looking to be adventurous, especially with flavors. Those more intense and adventurous experiences lend themselves to a crossover. With the meat snack product category growing, consumers are looking for more protein rich and on the go snacks. This situation felt like a really great opportunity to put together some really amazing flavors.”

Even as consumers might want new and different, it is more than just pushing the envelope. As Colemen asserted, the flamin’ hot category had a big, loyal following and it was an opportunity to stretch the reach into a meat snack product.

“We know that it would be a great pairing from a flavor standpoint since it would complement that savory, meaty flavor. Throughout testing, the flavors came through in a really unique way. It still has that great heat, but it had a savory meat background. It was a new experience.”

Even though there is a nod to the familiar, the new snack item is innovative. It is more than just a dusting over meat. The flavor experience builds, retreats, and comes back again.

Explaining how this eating experience is different Coleman said, “our current snacks, like Doritos and Cheetos, have the seasoning on the outside of the chips. It hits your tongue right away. In the meat snacks, the flavor is throughout the entire product. The flamin’ hot flavor starts a little slower than on a chip but then it builds in a unique way. Throughout the eating experience, it hits hot, meaty, and smoky.”

Jack Links jerky snacks get a flamin' hot upgrade
Jack Link’s meat snacks enjoyed on a road trip, photo provided by Jack Link’s /

The reason why this flavor journey happens is because of the methodology of creating a Jack Link’s meat snack. It is not like opening a seasoning package and sprinkling it over a piece of meat. According to Colemen, the process started from scratch and found a way to develop their goal. After consumer testing and now what’s on the market, it seems to have hit the target with consumers.

That triple taste quality is what makes eating this particular Jack Link’s offering so enjoyable. Even the spice adverse is willing to take the first bite. Plus, given that every piece in the bag has a slightly different size or texture, it adds to the adventurous eating aspect. While there will be a similarity throughout the bag, it is not all exactly uniform. That scenario adds to the eating enjoyment.

While Jack Link’s has opened this spicy chapter in its snack journey, other options could be on the horizon. The culinary and product development teams are always looking ahead to give consumers what they crave. Could a spicy, sweet and savory option be on the horizon? Only time will tell.

For now, Jack Link’s jerky is embracing its bolder side. That color in the cheeks from a dash of flamin’ hot flavor might invigorate consumers to get outside. Afterall, Sasquatch is waiting.

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