Pulled Pork That’s More Sugar Than Pork

Jack Daniel's Seasoned and Cooked Pulled Pork

Jack Daniel's Seasoned and Cooked Pulled Pork

I Paid: $6.59 for a 16-ounce package (prices may vary by region)

Taste: 1 stars

Marketing: 5 stars

The gorgeous and wordy wrapper that surrounds Jack Daniel's Old Time Quality Seasoned and Cooked Pulled Pork with Jack Daniel's Barbeque Sauce Made with Authentic Jack Daniel's Tennessee Whiskey writes a check that the pork inside the box can't actually cash. It's a classic case of licensing gone bad, of brand overreach, and of overpromising while underdelivering. And that's a shame, because there's no reason this stuff had to be bad.

The premise is simple: a refrigerated, vacuum-sealed one-pound mass of pulled pork, ready to be heated up and stuffed into sandwiches. Even at nearly $7 a package, a pound of good pulled pork would be a good deal—you could make a number of tasty meals with it with very little effort.

Unfortunately, the Jack Daniel's approach to barbecue is as follows: Drown it with sugar. A serving of this stuff has nearly as much sugar as a Hershey's Milk Chocolate Bar—22 grams. Granted that we're comparing 5.33 ounces of pork with 1.5 ounces of chocolate, but we're also comparing MEAT with CANDY. In the ingredient list for the pork (which includes ingredients that have their own ingredient lists) you can find brown sugar, sugar, molasses, and corn syrup. Pretty macho.

The sugar that covers this stuff would leave little room for other flavors, were any even present to begin with. This pulled pork cries out for smoke, for heat, for depth of spice, for vinegar, for something. But aside from a bit of garlic and onion, all that really comes through is sugar, brown sugar, soy sauce, and corn syrup. A distinct whiskey flavor would have also been a nice diversion from the candy factory; thus, while the packaging of Jack Daniel's Pulled Pork says "vintage Harley-Davidson," the flavor says "PT Cruiser."

James Norton edits the Upper Midwestern food journal Heavy Table. He's also the coauthor of a book on Wisconsin's master cheesemakers. Follow CHOW on Twitter, and become a fan on Facebook.