If you are anything like most Halal consumers living in America, you are constantly bombarded by food and snack products that you cannot eat. It's across the board, from meat products to corn chips to candies and drinks. Some of these products are the most highly marketed and "in your face" items which, the more you see them, the more your craving for them starts to shake your adherence to Halal.
So what should one do?
Well, here we have compiled a list of 5 common snack items and their Halal alternatives so you can keep strong on your path of eating right while still getting a sense of what all the excitement is about.
1. Shorty Sausages
These popular little sausages in short and plump form have been taking over the snack aisles in the US for the last couple of years. They come in all shapes and types, but there are a few that stand out. For example - one of the most popular Beef Jerky brands, Dukes has made this their focus and has been extremely successful. They figured out how to create small batches of smoked and spiced meat that have become popular. So much so that Conagra, the Large Food Company which already owns Slim Jim and other meat snack offerings purchased Dukes for over 100 Million dollars. Now with the prestige of a large company, their distribution brought these products almost everywhere.
Sharifa - a meat packer and supplier of Halal Meat out of Detroit, Michigan has done a great job of keeping the Halal market in the midwest from Iowa to Pennsylvania well stocked with great halal meat snacks. A majority of ethnic grocers that sell Halal carry Sharifa’s products. They have been in the industry for over 40 years and have become established as an American institution at this point. Saad, the founder has an inspiring immigrant success story.
Sharifa Turkey Toms - our personal favorite - these nicely spiced and salted little sticks are so satisfying and perfect for on-the-go. Some find these a little salty but we think they are just right and are great to complement eggs or even crackers for a snack.
2. Tender Jerky
This has been another craze in the last few years in the Jerky space - many companies have come into the market with a new form of jerky that is different from your grandpa’s dried meat. These are more like eating steak vs eating what feels like dried shoe leather! A few years ago, a company called Krave jerky, who is still one the largest brands in the Jerky space identified the need for a mainstream jerky that was softer, nitrate free, less salty, and with flavors that would attract younger consumers and women. They went with totally unique packaging and flavor profiles that just leapfrogged them over the competition. The result was the attention of the big brands, namely Hershey’s who ended up purchasing them to add to their fleet of snacks and confections. Krave is not alone in bringing this type of Jerky to the market, but they are the most visible and have done an impressive job with their strategy and innovative products.
Mummified Jerky - a new company based out of Seattle, Washington has done an excellent job of producing a tender, sweet and tangy jerky. Mummified Jerky comes in unique flavors like Luxor Cumin, Cleopatra Buffalo Chicken and Desert Jalapeño Beef. All of these flavors have never been seen before with the Halal meat snack offerings of the past. They are also nitrate and nitrite free, making them healthier to consume than the average jerky. We think this jerky is a huge hit, not just for the Halal space but the meat snack market in general.
3. Meat Snack Stick Bites
Nowadays everyone is on the go. What they want is a snack option that is convenient, bite-sized and easy to take on-the-go. If you have kids and are out on an all-day excursion you need to keep a snack that will hold them over in case you can’t get to a full meal. Meat snack bites are filling this void. Companies like Old Wisconsin and others have been dominating in this space.
Recently, Midamar who’s been a well-known provider of Halal meat products including Beef Jerky for a long time. They recently released two new products that address this area for the Halal consumer. They have a mid-size Beef Sticks and a Beef Snack Bites offering. With these two products, no refrigeration is required. They are made with top quality Midwestern Halal beef and are naturally cured without ingredients such as sodium nitrate. Midamar Halal Beef Sticks and bites make a tasty and satisfying snack. Individual packets make these Halal Beef Sticks and Bites a convenient snack for packed lunches, traveling, or anytime you want a savory treat. These beef sticks can also fit right into a sandwich or can be thrown on top of eggs for a hearty meal.
4. Snack Cakes
American snacks are known for their wide range of cake pockets filled with cream and other sweet fixes. The challenge is that many of the top selling and most consumed items have had a history of not being Halal. That has been a big let down for Halal consumers throughout the 90’s when they reached the peak of their popularity but even in the years following where they still command a strong customer following. It’s almost impossible to visit a lunch cafeteria in an American high school and not find some of these ultra-popular snack cakes being consumed by young people. In particular twinkles, sno-balls and others which are made with Pork Gelatin and Beef Fat come to mind.
Turkey, with its unique culture of East and West has had a nice history of innovating and producing high-quality consumer food products. Some of these brands are well-known such as Ulker (parent of chocolate giant Godiva) , Eti and Elvan. Elvan is a company that has been producing some great snack cake options that are tasty and satisfying at a price point that is easy to swallow. Elvan Goldies, Snowballs, and Bear cakes make some great alternatives to the common American snack cake options commonly available.
5. Spicy Hot Corn Chips and Potato Chips
Hot Cheetos, Takis and other spicy chip options have become some of the most purchased snack items. Consumers today are producing unique flavors beyond traditional flavors like BBQ and Salt & Vinegar. Today, you can find artisan flavors and even ethnic spice varieties like Tikka Masala and Chile Limon among the available savory snack options. So where’s the issue? Well if you were to check out the Frito Lay website (makers of Flamin Hot Cheetos) - they have broken out where their products don’t contain Pork enzymes here , and that’s great, but for the Halal consumer one should really consider more the page that lists which products are Kosher: http://origin-www.fritolay.com/nutrition/special-dietary-needs/us-products-certified-kosher.htm. What you’ll find is that many of the Cheeto’s products are not on the Kosher list and in our reading that implies that the enzymes used in many of the products are “beef based”.
There are a number of products coming from Pakistan, Turkey and other countries that fill the gap in this area of the snack market. Chillz, a snack potato stick that has been gaining popularity in the US is a great spicy savory treat that satisfies. They have three flavors, Spicy, Chatpata, and Ketchup. Each one is unique in its flavor profile and we must say, if you can handle spice, you must try the Spicy! It will put your spice strength to the test!
In Turkey, the Cerezos corn snacks line is another great alternative one can consider - they have a “Biftek” or Beef Steak flavor which is made with Halal Beef ingredients. They make other flavors as well such as Ketchup, Peynir (Cheese), and others. These are extremely hard to find in the US but nonetheless an alternative.
So, what's next?
We are so excited to see that the Halal snack world is growing both from international products that are quickly rising to par with the quality and taste of US products, but also food producers in the US seeing the need for a good Halal alternative. As time goes on this list of five will be growing more and more. Don't miss out! Try some of these items today and watch out for more snack items proudly flashing the, "Halal" call-outs in the market! Stay tuned for more featured products soon.....