In partnership with Chomps.
Growing up, beef jerky was the ultimate road trip snack. It was the gas station purchase par excellence, a savory bite that was more nourishing than crackers or candy but still flavorful enough to feel like a treat. As I got older, though, it started to lose its appeal. Convenience store brands in particular tasted more and more synthetic, and that signature leathery texture felt tougher than I remembered, even a chore to chew through.
It wasn’t until I went keto that jerky popped back up on my radar as a perfectly high-protein, low-carb snack — and lucky for me, there are options outside of Slim Jims these days. Namely Chomps, the rave-reviewed jerky made from high-quality proteins you don’t have to feel guilty about enjoying. I was equally impressed by what went into each stick and what didn’t: there are no added hormones, fillers, or any of the top eight allergens. That makes Chomps a truly crowd-pleasing snack that improves upon the childhood classic. Because when it comes to taste as well, these jerkies are truly a cut above the rest.
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QUALITY PAYS OFF
If Chomps’ approach to ingredient sourcing is completely different from its competitors, that’s entirely the point. Co-founders Pete Maldonado and Rashid Ali were tired of trying to find a simple protein snack that wasn’t stuffed to the gills with sugar and preservatives, especially given Maldonado’s background as a personal trainer. Ready to invent their own alternative, they each invested $3,250 into a first round of production… and considering Chomps is now worth north of $200 million, it’s safe to say that investment paid off.
Chomps has skyrocketed in both the traditional retail and DTC space, especially as demand for grass-fed, sustainably-sourced meat has grown among consumers. Plus, crucially for those trying to avoid (or eat less of) red meat, Chomps makes turkey jerky that’s every bit as flavorful. Their gluten-free, zero-sugar status makes them a dream for a whole host of diets, but also for anyone who’s trying to snack more mindfully. And when it’s time to dive into the flavor options, there’s no better place to start than with the OG.
WE’VE GOT BEEF
Chomps’ flagship offering is their Original Beef jerky ($24 for 10-pack), which carries a minimal spice level but tons of herby flavor. Black pepper shines through, along with celery and garlic, making this a super savory jerky, but one that doesn’t eat super fatty. One of the main differences I noticed between Chomps and the stuff I grew up on, in fact, is that it didn’t leave me feeling weighed down afterward. The thickness of the stick compared to traditional jerky strips also meant there was actual juiciness inside and the whole product didn’t taste dried out.
These sticks quickly became an easy, go-to snack, whether I needed that last-minute protein boost before hitting the gym or I wanted a midday treat that wouldn’t put me in a sugar coma. They’re exactly filling enough to satiate the hunger I feel in the witching hours between lunch and dinner, and at 60 calories per stick, do much better by me than the snacks I was turning to previously. And though I thought of myself as someone who gravitated towards the novelty flavors where jerky was concerned, I became particularly attached to the simplicity of the classic original.
THE SPICE OF LIFE
That said, I’m never mad at a chance for a little variety, and Chomps’ Trial Pack ($14.99) is the perfect way to taste-test their other flavors. It’s got six flavors in total, with Jalapeño Beef, Italian Style Beef, Pepperoni Turkey, Original Turkey and Salt & Pepper Venison joining the aforementioned Original Beef. While the jalapeño brings the heat you might expect to the table, the rest of the flavors are mild, with bold tastes coming from spices like oregano and cumin rather than spicy peppers. Still, the flavor that surprised me most was the venison. It wasn’t gamey at all, but super succulent and incredibly nutritious, being low in saturated fat and high in iron, zinc and essential B vitamins.
What surprised me the most in this pack was that the turkey sticks were as juicy as their beef counterparts, considering turkey is a much leaner meat that often dries out (as anyone who’s cooked Thanksgiving dinner can attest). That said, the flavor that won me over the most was the Taco Seasoned Beef, which felt like a surprise victory until I remembered how much I loved taco nights growing up using all those same dried spices. It’s got a nostalgic flavor that’s calibrated perfectly — not so intense that it’s tough to finish, but packing a definite punch.
STICK-ING THE LANDING
If you like your snacks even more bite-sized, Chomplings are exactly what they sound like: mini sticks clocking in at half an ounce each. A perfect option for kids, or for those of us who just need a lil’ nibble now and then, they’re available in Original Beef, Original Turkey, Italian Style Beef 24-packs ($28). My celiac friends in particular swear by keeping these in their desk at work, as they’ll always have something on hand when other lunch options are an allergy minefield. And that’s not all: their newest flavors, Taco Seasoned Beef and Habanero Beef (both $24 for a 10–pack) might be my two favorites. The Taco Seasoned Beef in particular has a super nostalgic taste, with all the same herbs and spices from your favorite taco night.
But no matter what flavor or size Chomps you end up going with, you’ll immediately notice a difference from other brands in terms of freshness and flavor quality. They’re versatile enough to eat on their own, or add to a charcuterie board, whether you’re in need of clean on-the-go protein or trying to lighten the load in your kitchen at home. As someone who has trouble digesting soy, the go-to protein for the majority of bars and powders on the market, Chomps has become a lifesaver for when I need that muscle-building boost.
And it just might be the excuse I need to take a road trip for old times’ sake.