1. We tested only "original" beef jerky--no flavors and no wild game.
2. We tested only brands that are widely available to consumers either in stores or online. (Yeah, we know homemade jerky is the best jerky, but our goal was the find the best "brand" of jerky.)
3. Our intern (who did not participate in the experiment) arranged the jerky onto 11 plates and assigned each variety a number, so the tasting panel could not tell the brands apart.
4. Each jerky was scored on a 1-to-5 scale (5 being the highest) in three criteria: texture, quality of the meat, and overall taste. There were 10 people on the tasting panel, so a perfect score in any category would have been 50. (Spoiler Alert: There were no perfect scores.)
5. During testing, we drank beer. As palate cleansers, of course.
6. After all of the jerky was tested, each member of the tasting panel was asked to list her or her favorite. Of the 11 jerky varieties tested, six different brands were listed as favorites--three of which received two votes. (One taster did not name a favorite.)
7. Once the score sheets were turned in, we added the combined scores of the tasting criteria. The brands that were named as "favorites" received 10 bonus points added to their total score.