As the iconography of the E.T. Fresh Jerky building in Crystal Springs, Nevada tells it, aliens are just carefree interstellar cowboys, wielding lassos like party favors, shooting tractor beams from their ships not to tow in hapless humans, but rather entice us with their swingin’ disco ball effects to get down with their extraterrestrial selves. If such a characterization is accurate, then it shouldn’t be unreasonable to infer that their flesh – given willingly to us humans like cosmic wampum -- tastes like cotton candy from another dimension. (Or maybe not so willingly. “Every time those suckers land, I chop them up,” E.T. Fresh Jerky store manager Dixie jokes about the jerky's otherworldly origins.)
I had high hopes as I unzipped the golden bag of their “Area 51 Classified Teriyaki Time Travel” beef jerky. But it was as disappointing as a UFO hoax photo. My nose was introduced to a chemically sweet tang of teriyaki; my mouth, to oversweet, crystallized beef chumlets that tasted like lunchmeat as imagined by Jolly Rancher. I could chalk it up to the subjectivity of taste, but E.T. Fresh Jerky failed to meet a more meaningful benchmark: the addictive can’t-stop, compulsive nom factor that makes even so-so jerky a compelling proposition, by which I mean it inspires in me such obsessive consumption I eat it like a cartoon character – you know how they throw the snack food in the air, and it pauses magically for a moment, and then it arcs perfectly and lands in their mouth, and they make that gobblechomping sound? Like that.
That said, the store’s roasted and salted pepitas were delicious, leading me to wonder whether we shouldn’t consider getting in on that intergalactic snack food export scheme.