From the Kitchen: Tanka Bars

Posted: March 12, 2012 in From The Kitchen



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I’m always in search of a good, primal snack to have around at the office or on-the-go. Recently I’ve been seeing some buzz about Tanka Bars on several blogs including Mark’s Daily Apple where he gave them away as prizes for the 30-day challenge and recommended them as his top primal/paleo Christmas gifts. So I thought I’d look into it. I emailed tankabar@tankabar.com to ask questions and request information. I received a response from Jenice Johnson and we had an email conversation back and forth for a bit. After a few transmissions, she offered to send a sample pack to me for review on the blog. This is that review

Last Thursday night, after a good, long day at work, I had to drive down to Winter Park to get some things from my sister to bring back to the new place. In the mail was my sample package from Jenice at Tanka Bar. Upon opening I saw that there were two Tanka Bars, one traditional and one spicy hot. There were also two Wild Buffalo Sticks of the same variety. I’ll stop here to quickly state that the Tanka sticks contain wild rice and while I still sampled them for taste and texture, they are not 100% primal/paleo. That doesn’t lessen the fact that they are 100% all-natural and the rice is non-GMO with no artificial colors or flavors. The flavor on the spicy stick was probably my favorite tasting product of the whole pack but, since this is a review about primal snacks, I want to focus on the Tanka Bars.

Tanka Bars are a modern version of Wasna or Pemmican. If you look up Wasna on Wikipedia, you’re redirected to Pemmican and it’s described as follows.

Traditional preparation

Traditionally, pemmican was prepared from the lean meat of large game such as buffalo, elk or deer. The meat was cut in thin slices and dried over a slow fire, or in the hot sun until it was hard and brittle. About 5 pounds of meat are required to make one pound of dried meat suitable for pemmican. Then it was pounded into very small pieces, almost powder-like in consistency, using stones. The pounded meat was mixed with melted fat in an approximate 1:1 ratio. In some cases, dried fruits such as saskatoon berries, cranberries, blueberries, or choke cherries were pounded into powder and then added to the meat/fat mixture. The resulting mixture was then packed into rawhide pouches for storage.

On their website, Tanka Bar says:

We started with the traditional recipe for wasna, the original Native trail mix, and thought to modernize it. We tried all sorts of ideas to improve on wasna, but each time we added something to the mix, we went further away from what we intended. It could not be improved! We came full circle to see that the traditional flavors were perfect.

So there’s a little background on where the product comes from. So here’s what I have to say about it. I got some of my things from my sister on Thursday night. I got back in my car and since I hadn’t had dinner, I immediately tore open the pack of Tanka Bar samples and went for the spicy hot bar. My raw, first impression was a little weird. I took my first bite and immediately noticed a combination of flavors I had not encountered before. It was like beef jerky but I noticed the raisin/craisin-like texture within. It’s also got this savory, tangy flavor that comes from the mixture of dried beef and cranberries. After the second bite I thought, while it would take a moment to grow on me, that I’d enjoy a snack like this on occasion knowing that I was putting some quality choices into my body. The heat level wasn’t something I’d consider “spicy” but it was noticeable. It wasn’t too hot for the general public who may not have hot sauce on the table at breakfast, lunch and dinner. Overall, I enjoyed it. The bar was 70 calories with 7g protein and 1.5g fat. All sugar in the product is only what occurs naturally in the cranberry and there are no added sugars.

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Friday rolled around and I took the traditional bar to the office. I was able to notice a little bit more in daylight since I wasn’t driving. The bars are not incredibly large.20120311-141549.jpg From the front side exterior, they appear to be larger than they are. If you flip the package, you notice that 1/3 of the wrapper is split beside the seal to allow for a good place to grab onto to tear into the package without frustration of perforations gone wrong. You definitely won’t need scissors to open.
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It wound up being a good, afternoon snack. I actually liked the taste of the traditional a little bit better than the spicy hot bar. I think it was a good balance of sweet/savory flavors and the texture was good. I’ll say that when you open the package it’s a little oily like a slim jim. I’m not a big fan of slimy, oily foods but it’s nothing a few paper towels and firm pressure couldn’t solve and that’s what I did.

You really should give these bars a try. They’re definitely unique being a blend of dried meat and dried fruit and I’ve never experienced that combination before but now I’m interested in trying it at home with my dehydrator. I plan to grab a few more Tanka Bars soon. On the site, you can buy two 1-oz bars for $5.99. That’s $2.99 per ounce. If you buy the box of 12 for $28.80, you wind up getting each 1-oz bar at about $2.40 so there’s a little savings there. This is a little steep for me and my Dave Ramsey budget plan but if it works for you, I’d say it’s worth it knowing the product is 100% all-natural and you don’t have anything to feel bad about. You know the sayings “you are what you eat” and “you get what you pay for”? This product gives a good answer to both of those. You’re also supporting a small business that’s part of the few trying to keep good, quality food available to those of us that care when the GMO problem is growing at a considerable rate every day.

The Tanka Bar is made by Native American National Foods, LLC and their mission is focused on creating a family of nationally branded food products that are delicious and that promote a Native American way of wellness that feeds mind, body, and spirit. They’re doing a fine job with this!

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