Beef Jerky Outlet: Herbivore's Nightmare, Carnivore's Dirty Dream.

Beef Jerky Outlet 4441 Bass Pro Drive #500 Garland 972-203-2337

Try: cherry cheesecake popcorn Don't try: Buffalo Bob's kangaroo jerky

In Garland out by the Bass Pro, there's a beef jerky outlet creatively named Beef Jerky Outlet. There, you'll find a beef jerky shop clearly created by someone who jerks themselves to jerky. I mean, this dude must love jerky like it's candy. The walls of this little shop are lined with barrels -- just like the kind you've seen filled with salt water taffy and those hard candies with the strawberry wrappers -- only these are filled to the brim with jerky. It's a dried-meat lover's paradise. Like Willy Wonka's candy land, only with beef jerky trees, beef jerky rainbows and everlasting beef jerky gobstoppers.

And for you popcorn fiends, they have barrels bursting with different flavored popcorns. I'm talkin' caramel corn, cheese corn, that other weird corn that's always leftover in the tri-flavor office party corn bucket, plus they had other Doritos-y stuff like cheesy jalapeño popcorn. Oooh. Wonder if they'll come out with a Late Night All Nighter Cheeseburger flavor like Doritos has. I just popcorn-dreamed all over myself.

And Beef Jerky Outlet is so crazy, they're giving the stuff away for free. As you're driving down Interstate 30 (just humor me here and pretend like you've ever driven to Garland), you'll see a giant billboard for their store with "FREE SAMPLES" written in 6-foot-tall letters. According to the guy behind the counter in the PETA shirt (People for the Eating of Tasty Animals), you can get a sample of pretty much anything in the store if you ask. In fact, when I asked what he thought was the weirdest (but most delicious) thing they sold in the store, he gave me a free sample of the cherry cheesecake popcorn. I was as skeptical as you are right now. Honestly, though, it was pretty damned good. The ratio of salty to sweet was just right (way closer to chocolate pretzel than trashcan punch vomit) and the popcorn in the middle was still crunchy. If you're looking for a sweet snack to battle the sodium carnival that is the jerky stick, this is your best bet.

Along with a handful of cherry cheesecake popcorn, I purchased this fine variety of jerky: ostrich, kangaroo, elk, alligator, antelope, wild boar and pheasant. I didn't notice until I got home that they all contain beef in addition to whatever crazy meat they have as their main ingredient. Result: They all pretty much tasted like beef. I liked the alligator (tough like jerky's supposed to be and the Cajun spices were nice) and pheasant (more tender, and the pheasant wasn't overpowered by the beef as much in this one) best. The kangaroo was alright, but while I was eating it, I couldn't stop thinking about cute little kangaroos hopping around and then hopping into meat grinders. For me, that was a turnoff. But hey, for you jerky freaks it might be just the thing that gets you goin'.

In addition to the popcorn and the jerky, they have a wall of hot sauces, some weird peanut butters (including powdered peanut butter. "Just add water!" And then, hurk!), packaged dried fruit, a cooler full of cheeses and a wall of shirts that your meat-etarian, hippie-hating father would wear with pride. This place has dudely Christmas stocking written all over it.

For all that jerky plus the popcorn, my total only came to about $17 dollars. If only I had discovered this place pre-Father's Day.

The Basket: cherry cheesecake popcorn, ostrich jerky, kangaroo jerky, elk jerky, alligator jerky, antelope jerky, wild boar jerky and pheasant jerky.

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Alice Laussade writes about food, kids, music, and anything else she finds to be completely ridiculous. She created and hosts the Dallas event, Meat Fight, which is a barbecue competition and fundraiser that benefits the National MS Society. Last year, the event raised $100,000 for people living with MS, and 750 people could be seen shoving sausage links into their faces. And one time, she won a James Beard Award for Humor in Writing. That was pretty cool.
Contact: Alice Laussade

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