Kangaroo jerky, duck jerky, alligator jerky …

When a new beef jerky store in Tulalip sent a press release promoting kangaroo meat snacks, I hopped right on it.

Marsupial meat?

What’s up with that?

A jerky store?

Double what’s up with that?

Beef Jerky Outlet in Quil Ceda Village is a franchise store with novelty snacks and about 200 varieties of meats from animals that moo, hop, fly, crawl and swim.

Is it ew or ah?

Seemed like a good excuse to do a Herald newsroom taste test.

I bought a Wild &Exotic Jerky Combo Pack, $29.99, a 16-pack of sticks that included alligator, antelope, kangaroo, duck, pheasant, buffalo, wild boar and ostrich. I also got a bag of traditional dried beef jerky.

For appetizers, bacon and cheese crickets, $2.99 a dozen.

And for dessert?

A box of chocolate-dipped insects.

It was one of the most rousing newsroom taste tests ever.

“This is as close to ‘Fear Factor’ as I’m going to get,” a taster remarked. “So, I happily tried a bacon and cheese cricket and chocolate-covered larva. Both were actually delicious.”

“Surprisingly good,” said another cricket connoisseur.

Kangaroo got the most likes of the meats, including “nice, smooth flavor.”

Alligator got the most dislikes. Examples: “A dry flavor, as if it was old” and “like eating shoes.”

Buffalo and wild boar got good ratings, as did antelope: “Smooth, a little rich but not too much” and “very savory.”

The traditional jerky wasn’t as alluring amid such tantalizing contenders, but was praised by those who tried it.

The newsroom tasting was like a wine tasting with jerky, which is how store owner Tom Miller describes “the jerky experience” of letting his customers choose what to sample.

Store workers sport leather holsters with scissors, which they whisk out to snip samples of jerky for tastings.

Miller spent more than 30 years in mobile computing and wireless technology in the Pacific Northwest.

So what’s a tech industry guy doing in jerky, the mainstay of hikers, bikers and truckers?

Miller said he was looking for something fun.

It’s a father-daughter venture. He and his daughter, Amy, are co-owners of a jerky store here and in Maryland.

It started when Amy went to a franchising trade show for ideas in New York and discovered the jerky booth. “She called me and said, ‘You won’t believe this, but people are lining up,’” said Miller, who lives in Woodinville.

Jerky is a universal phenomenon now, he said.

“It’s a varied customer mix, not just guys. Couples, women, everybody from construction workers to executives.”

And some brave Herald employees.

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