Beef Jerky Gets Hip

Beef jerky and Slim Jim used to be found primarily in truck stops and convenience stores. But they're reaching new audiences fueled by big ad campaigns.

Sales of these beefy treats are up by nearly 13 percent in the last year. Consumer Reports just checked out all kinds of "beef to go" to see if it's worth buying.

The commercial says, "As a registered nurse, it's my job to distribute Slim Jims to patients suffering from male spice loss as discretely as possible..."

Men are the target of this Slim Jim TV commercial.

"Slim Jim, made from stuff guys need."

And the ad for Jack Link's Beef Jerky tries to be hip and young.

"Feed your wild side!"

These meaty snacks are no longer just available at drugstores and gas stations. Even Whole Foods and Trader Joe's now carry beef jerky.

Consumer Reports Adam Kaplan checked out more than a dozen beefy snacks-beef jerky, as well as meat sticks, like Slim Jim.

Adam Kaplan of Consumer Reports says, "Meat sticks have more fat, more calories and more saturated fat than beef jerky. Beef jerky is made from lean cuts of meat, and they're cooked over low heat for a long period of time. So the end product comes out really very low in fat."

But all the beef products are loaded with sodium. 7 Select Original has the most-600 milligrams per serving.

Kaplan says, "If you ate this whole bag, which is easy to do because you can see it's pretty small, you're eating 1,800 milligrams of sodium."

That's more than the American Heart Association recommends per day.

As for taste, three beef jerkies rated best. They are:

Oh Boy! Oberto Original
Pacific Gold Original
and Market Pantry Original from Target.

As for the beef jerky from Trader Joe's and Whole Foods, they have less sodium than the others. But in Consumer Reports' tests, they weren't the best-tasting.

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