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Last year, my story with the most page views was one that graphically detailed the loss of my Buc-ee’s virginity as I ate my way through some of the beloved brand’s most famous temptations. This year, that number may already have been surpassed by a guest spot on the Arts pages reviewing the Bruce Springsteen concert.
Or, more likely, coverage of Grills owner Joe Penovich’s F-bomb studded open letter to Anheuser-Busch.
But neither of those stories has Beaver Nuggets. And everything is better with Beaver Nuggets.
So, I gave in to the seductive siren song of the $5 snack that launched (at least) a thousand Type 2 Diabetes diagnoses and made the pilgrimage back to Daytona — in search of new culinary delights from the undisputed king of convenience stores.
Jerky Part Deux
Last year, I hit up Buc-ee’s famed Wall of Jerky but this year, with the intent to sample the boudin kolache, I approached the glass-front service counter and reeled.
Well, first I stopped and contemplated buying a trucker cap. Then I took a selfie with Bucky Beaver. Then came the reeling as I realized that the pastry selection of the last visit had been replaced by trays upon trays of loose jerky strips.
I will reiterate that traditionally I am not much of a jerky enthusiast, but on this trip, Buc-ee’s made me a convert with its Cherry-Maple flavor, which offered up just the right balance of sweet and savory for my palate. Also, it wasn’t SPAM-level salty, so often the issue I have with pre-packaged varieties. Second to this was the Korean Barbecue, easy to ID with its smattering of sesame seeds.
The Bohemian Garlic was just OK. But all will leave your jaw weary and ready for rest. All is sold by weight at $31.98/lb.
Things I ate in the car
Sadly, I forgot my cooler bag, but the truth is that the bulk of Buc-ee’s “ready-to-eat” options should be consumed immediately if you want them at their best. And so, we did.
First up, the Sliced Brisket Sandwich ($8.49). Last year’s foray into the chopped version of this sando was, for me, a mushy, unmitigated disaster. But on the heels of my review, several readers piped up to note that the sliced version was much better. They were right.
Though nothing I’d rush to revisit — on road trips I’m generally more interested in a bucket of diet Dr. Pepper and a giant-sized bag of Combos than anything resembling an actual meal — this sandwich fares better not only taste-wise but structurally. I’d place it above the Sliced Turkey version ($8.99), if only for the meat’s integrity. The turkey was softer, vaguely gelatinous. Both come reasonably portioned on one of those guilty-pleasure garbage buns that steam up lovely in the foil paper wrapping. For those who eschew red meat, the turkey’s a decent enough option.
Both of these, however, were blown out of the water by the formidable and girthy Sausage on a Stick ($7.48 and a steal compared to the pricier sandwiches), which comes on a wooden skewer and swathed in a tortilla I later figured was there to prevent it from juicing all over everything — which it did, on my dress, that thankfully has a busy enough pattern to conceal the drips that have likely immortalized this particular car meal.
The sausage was flavorful with great snap. And unlike the sandos, this thing will hold up and did. It was given new life later in the day. This was the highlight of this year’s Buc-ee’s served-warm savories.
Now the banana pudding ($3.99 for a small) would have fared just fine zipped up with an ice pack for a few hours, but since we didn’t have that luxury, we tucked in. This came reader-recommended and while I can see it hitting the spot if you’re having a hardcore craving, there are far worthier splurges amid the sweets.
You can eat these literally wherever, including while driving, though you will end up with a powdery paw for the trouble.
I enjoyed these last year and hadn’t planned on resampling, but the Spice Girl in me couldn’t pass up the White Cheddar Habanero flavor ($3.98). With waaaaaay more heat than I’d ever have guessed they’d put in what’s essentially leveled-up Pirate’s Booty, these things hit hard with spice that builds as you eat. Which is a lot, because they’re hard to stop eating. If you like spicy, get ’em.
Spicy Pickled Eggs
Conversely, if you like spicy, you might be a little let down by these (a big ol’ jar goes for $9.99). They’re perfectly pickly, but lack the heat the label promises. This was a surprise for me because last year’s Scorpion Pepper Salsa was undeniably incendiary. And with this, we’ve entered the “home provisions” portion of the odyssey.
I also grabbed a smaller jar of Pickled Quail Eggs ($9.99), which were on my list as a must-get. I tried both as is and if you dig pickled eggs, either is just fine. I also tried the regular ones mashed into an egg salad (vinegary, but tasty) but the real fun was assembling a bunch of these items, including jerky strips and those crunchy-spicy Nug-ees into what I called a Buc’Cuterie Board!
After a very brief stint patting myself on the back, I realized the name was probably too obvious to be my idea first (it wasn’t) but it was an honest go-to just the same. And, more importantly, a lot of fun to assemble.
Pickled eggs with a small flat of dried venison sausage I grabbed from the cooler ($5.99 and tasty) laid alongside mustard and pickles and bite-sized bits of jerky, crackers, recycled rounds of that sausage-on-a-stick with its tortilla jacket, homemade pickled onions and yes, more of those White Cheddar Habanero Nug-ees rounded out the savories.
For a sweet bite, I added a small dish of another addictive delight: Buc-ee’s Organic Coconut Clusters ($2.99). With a delicate crunch, one permeated with the nutritive nuttiness of chia, sunflower and pumpkin seeds, it’s powerful good stuff.
In fact, I may have found the Methadone equivalent to ease my Beaver Nugget withdrawals. I’ll let you know. After I finish the rest of the bag.
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