“Oh boy, Oberto!” Oh boy, oh boy, oh boy.
Look, we were having a perfectly pleasant evening. A night out, some great conversation, a quick stop for some Bugles, some fizzy Green Apple Perrier, and a top-off of gasoline. We didn’t want any trouble.
But then, there they were, plain as day, taunting us from the checkout at the local Lil’ Mart, adjoining the McDonald’s on the town line: Oberto Trail Mix, in not one, but three flavors: Original Beef, Teriyaki Chicken, and Spicy Sweet Beef. From the website:
“There is a reason no one has successfully created the natural combination of healthy trail mix with PROTEIN PACKED Jerky. Our unique selection of nuts, seeds, dried fruit & chocolate makes all the difference in how it tastes. Our trail mix will taste just as good the day you tear it open as the day we mixed it together. It took us 98 years to come up with the perfect mix, but it’ll only take you one handful to know it’s the best trail mix you’ve ever tasted.”
We’d like to posit another reason for it taking 98 years for anyone to “successfully create” the “natural combination” of meat-stuffed trail mix: It’s because the idea is repulsive on every human level. Because we are nothing if not quality, dedicated investigative journalists, however, we purchased every single one.
Oberto “Original Beef” Trail Mix
This mixture combines Oberto’s “Original” beef jerky, walnuts, pecans, sunflower seeds, dried cranberries, golden raisins, and semi-sweet chocolate into a two ounce portion of trail mix that packs 12 grams of protein in every serving.
Can we pause for a moment to discuss all of this “protein” business? Who in the hell is eating all of this protein, and making purchasing decisions based on the ratio of protein-to-cost per serving, and what kinds of lives are they otherwise leading? We consider the amount of protein present in each meal literally never, and every time we see mention of it made on product packaging, it makes us feel like there are either A.) many, many more professional bodybuilders walking among us than we’d realized, or B.) that we’re living in some sort of post-apocalyptic future society where everyone wears grey polyester mandarin-collared tunics and food has been been reduced to packets of flavorless nutrients.
For testing purposes, we ate each of these trail mixes a handful at a time, and will try to evaluate the way they taste overall, since if you pick at the individual components, you’re not eating trail mix, you’re just eating individual pieces of each component. And who could score that? Jerky is delicious. Cranberries are delicious. Are jerky AND cranberries delicious? Let’s find out.
The “Original Beef” variety of this snack was something of a surprise. In spite of the viscerally negative reaction we had to seeing this product on shelves, the combination works surprisingly well together. The whole walnuts add bulk and crunch to the beef jerky, and the dried cranberries lend a complimentary sweetness. Our only complaint is about the jerky itself; it’s hard and too chewy, and your teeth tend to have ground up everything else in your mouth long before you’re ready to swallow the otherwise flavorful beef.*
Oberto “Spicy Sweet Beef” Trail Mix
This mixture combines Oberto’s “Spicy Sweet” beef jerky, almonds, pumpkin and sunflower seeds, golden raisins, dried apricots, dried orange peel, and spicy chili-infused dark chocolate chunks.
We were immediately smitten with the high-quality ingredients used in this combination, including a touch of bitter sweetness from the dried orange peel and big bursts of sugar from the dried apricots. At first, the mix didn’t seem spicy enough, but the heat appeared in a wave, offering a big boost of pleasing palate confusion that gave the “Spicy Sweet Beef” variety a surprising complexity.
Oberto “Teriyaki Chicken” Trail Mix
This mixture offers a terrifying combination of teriyaki chicken strips, almonds, pecans, walnuts, pumpkin and sunflower seeds, dried cranberries and mango, and dark chocolate chunks.
Real talk: This is the combination we were approaching with the most suspicion, mostly because the combination of “teriyaki chicken” and “dark chocolate” sounds less like a delicious snack and more like a recipe for having to lie down for the rest of the day sipping ginger ale. And though the surprising success of the other Oberto Trail Mix combinations helped steel our courage somewhat, this still proved to be our least favorite of the bunch.
Call it our overall prejudice against both “teriyaki flavoring” AND “chicken jerky,” but the combination with fruit and chocolate simply isn’t very compelling. If there’s a high point, it’s that Oberto showed some restraint when they fired the teriyaki flavoring cannon and these dehydrated chicken chunks; it’s not overpowering, and the flavors of the other elements still shine through.
Overall, we were very pleasantly surprised with the Oberto Trail Mix lineup. Though the combinations may seem a little alarming on paper, Oberto’s use of super premium ingredients in surprising combinations lends a subtle complexity to each variety. If you are either a trail mix OR a beef jerky enthusiast (or, yes, someone who is counting dietary protein grams and who can explain to us if “12” is even a lot), these snacks are solidly worth a try.