I do not eat pork. There, I said it. No ham, no bacon, no pork tenderloin. And while this does put me in a gastronomic minority in our bacon-centric culture, I don’t feel like I’m missing out on too much. Although a small part of the reason I choose not to eat it is moral, it is mostly because I just don’t care for it. There are plenty of other meats out there, and I prefer them. And when I am able to come across alternative bacon options (like turkey) I’m always open to giving it a try. So when I stumbled across a new line of snacks while shopping recently, my interest was piqued.
I have to admit that this brand snuck up no me a bit. I certainly haven’t noticed any heavy marketing push from them; as I said before, I just happened upon these in the supermarket while I was looking for something else. What caught my eye was (obviously) the packaging. It’s a very cool vintage-style typography, with great classic “illustrations” of the animal that’s featured in the product. I am going to take a minute and put a little something out there, though. I did feel just the tiniest bit misled by the packaging. If you are like me and choose not to consume pork, be sure to read the label carefully. That’s something I did not do until I got home, and discovered that two of the snacks I picked up do in fact contain pork. While I certainly appreciate the animals being raised humanely, I am quite firm in my choices, and wouldn’t have been very pleased if I had eaten the product, only to later discover what it contained.
But enough about me, let’s talk about the company itself. Epic was started by a couple who, in an effort to change their health, had become vegetarians (and then vegans) with less-than-optimal results, including digestive issues. They then decided to incorporate what is now commonly known as the Paleo Diet into their lifestyle, and were having some difficulty finding products that met their needs. So they did their research, got connected with ranchers and other animal producers, and established a system that provides incentives to them for raising animals with a pasture- and range-centered diet. In layman’s terms that means they’re doing it the old fashioned way; turn those cows, pigs, buffalo and others out into nature and let them eat grasses and native plants. Give them lots of room to roam and you’ll have a healthier animal that produces cleaner, more delicious meat. Sounds simple enough to me.
I was also impressed by the range of products the company offers. I visited their website and was almost overwhelmed by the snack options. Bars, Bites, Pork Skins, Animal Oils (like duck fat) for cooking, Bacon Bits, Trail Mix and more are available for all your clean protein eating needs. There is also plenty of information on the company as well if you’re interested in learning more. I picked up three of the protein bar range on my trip; the Buffalo with Cranberry, the Beef with Apple, and the Chicken Sriracha. Of these three, the chicken flavor is the only one that is pork-free (see above). They also offer some very tasty combinations such as Lamb with Currant and Mint, and Venison with Sea Salt and Pepper. They come in 1.5 oz. bars and in my area are about $2.99 each (although I found mine on sale.)
Now I know you’re wanting me to stop rambling and get down t how they taste. For me, it’s not quite so easy to pinpoint it. If you are expecting meat jerky, this is not it. It’s like a soft, chewable jerky; the most similar texture I think would be like a summer sausage. And as for the actual taste…I think that if you are currently on the Paleo Diet or something similar, you’ll probably like these. I think they may be a bit of a stretch for the average consumer though. But if you’re looking to pack a boat load of protein into your diet, these (in the 9 – 15g range) are a great option. I found myself wanting to slice them up and put them on crackers or sprinkle them over a salad. The fruit/spice additions to each bar were very nice though; the cranberries in the Buffalo bar were especially tasty without being overwhelming.
Overall, I would probably give these bars four out of five stars. They are delicious, you just have to be ready for the general taste/texture combo. Like I said before, all the Paleo folks out there should jump on these. They are also certified gluten-free and fairly low in cholesterol. I am definitely interested in trying other products from their line, and plan on looking for them in the future. Have you tried Epic snacks? What was your experience? Let me know in the comments below!