this thing's incredible

I Buy These Fancy Slim Jims by the Caseload

“Hey, what was that beef thing you gave me the other day?”

This is a sentence I often hear from my friends, and it’s not the opening to a sex joke! It’s a reference to my favorite snack: Nick’s Sticks.

The first rule of hosting is to offer your guests a drink and a nosh, and whenever people come over to my apartment, I urge them to try one of the nifty little pipettes of grass-fed protein that I’ve grown so fond of. Nick’s Sticks are basically fancy Slim Jims: delicious beef sticks with no nitrates, no sugar, no hormones, nothing gross. I discovered them while researching a fad diet that I did not end up pursuing. Now, I eat them daily and keep them in my purse for emergency hunger situations.

They are an ideal substitute for protein bars, which we all know are the equivalent of candy. (Most of them, anyhow.) Nick’s Sticks are portable and equipped with a long shelf life. They require no preparation. Kids like them. People who dislike healthy foods like them. People on the Paleo diet or Whole30 can eat them. They come in an exciting jalapeño flavor, if you’re a spice hound. And although the package claims that they are “not a low calorie food,” 120 calories for two sticks seems pretty low-cal to this beefeater!

Name any snack situation and Nick’s Sticks are a strong fit. Throw a pack in your carry-on next time you board an airplane; it weighs less than two ounces. Keep a pack in your desk at the office; no refrigeration is necessary. They taste sublime with beer. I love to throw down a couple of sticks as a post-run snack along with several glasses of water. (As with any cured meat, there’s a decent amount of sodium involved.) They can be dipped in hummus or guac for increased salty pleasure. Each pack delivers ten grams of protein and eight grams of fat — the good kind of fat, with omega-3s, like you find in salmon. They also include a reasonable dose of iron, which is great for all the anemic ladies in the house!

Here’s a pro tip. Nick’s Sticks are expensive if you buy them retail, but the website allows ordinary citizens to order by the case, which includes four “caddies” (like mine, pictured) of 24 sticks each. This lowers the price to $1.99 per pack, or even cheaper if you go wild and order multiple cases. (But for those who would rather not order 100 at a time, see the link below.) And you can mix and match flavors! Party time, meatheads.

Nick’s Sticks, Pack of 24
$38 at Amazon

Another Strat-approved beef jerky

Kalahari Biltong Air-Dried Sliced Beef
$8 at Amazon

Writer Rima Suqi swears by Kalahari biltong, an African version of jerky that she says has “the tender, thin texture of prosciutto (nothing like the jaw-tiring dryness of regular beef jerky), with tasty flavorings that are so much more interesting than ‘Teriyaki’ or ‘Black Pepper.’ Kalahari biltong is seasoned with a blend of vinegar, pepper, coriander, peri-peri chili seasoning, and sea salt; marinated; and then air-dried in a climate-controlled room for 18 days. It’s a totally natural process, with no preservatives or additives. The result is a super-tasty, slightly tangy, slightly spicy snack, which has 16 grams of protein (and if it matters to you, no sugar, no gluten, and less than 1 gram of carbohydrates).” Read more about this here.

The Strategist is designed to surface the most useful, expert recommendations for things to buy across the vast e-commerce landscape. Some of our latest conquests include the best women’s jeansrolling luggagepillows for side sleepersultra-flattering pants, and bath towels. We update links when possible, but note that deals can expire and all prices are subject to change.

Every editorial product is independently selected. If you buy something through our links, New York may earn an affiliate commission.

I Buy These Fancy Slim Jims by the Caseload