Oakridge BBQ is not like most other manufacturers. I put the utmost emphasis on spice quality, freshness, and volatile oil content in all of the ingredients we source. Most others do not, or at least not near the level I do. But, I’m also not a co-packer manufacturing hundreds of brands who has to first make a manufacturing profit and then be able to market their products to brand owners at a price which will allow the brand owners to still make a wholesale profit as their products move further up-chain to distributors, dealers and ultimately to the end consumer. The sheer economics of it do not allow rubs made by co-packers to contain nearly the same quality of spices we use. If they did, you wouldn’t be able to afford it once it made it to the store shelf. This is because higher volatile oil content equals higher acquisition price, and high volume purchasing doesn’t make the acquisition price go down because of the relative scarcity of these HVL ingredients in the market. Being made in our own production facility allows Oakridge BBQ to cut out the middle man and apply that extra margin directly toward consistently purchasing the very best spices available.
So, it is for this reason I view MSG the way I do. In the context of commercial spice blending/manufacturing, I see the use of MSG (or any of the other industrially manufactured derivatives) as an unnecessary crutch. Simply put, if higher quality ingredients are used, MSG really isn’t necessary.
Additionally, while MSG does contribute to the Umami of a rub’s flavor characteristics, it does not contribute any additional unique flavors of its own. Conversely, if one were to use say, Shiitake mushroom powder for example, it not only contributes a low-level natural source of mono-sodium glutamate, it also contributes a significant punch of its own unique flavor as well. But, mushroom powders are expensive and difficult to work with, and industrial ingredients such as MSG are incredibly cheap and easy. So, in order to keep margins in check, commercial co-packers use straight MSG instead.
Finally, while the health effects of MSG are often contested and mostly unsettled science; as a manufacturer, I chose to err on the side of caution. It is impossible for a customer to remove MSG if they don’t want it, and incredibly easy for them to add it if they do. So, without it we increase our product’s appeal to a wider audience of potential customers. Also, while MSG is a naturally occurring compound, the commercially available pure MSG products are technically industrial ingredients — industrially synthesized and/or manufactured to a purity and concentration thousands of times higher than what is naturally occurring in the foods that contain them. Similar to the relationship between poppy seeds and cocaine… And, as a matter of principle and pride of workmanship in the products we produce, I have always been staunchly opposed to the use of any industrial ingredients in our products. This is why you will never find MSG, phosphates, silicates, oleoresins, yeast extracts, disodium inosinate, disodium guanylate, or any additives that fall under the “natural color” or “natural flavor” adjunct categories in any Oakridge BBQ rub or brine. Always quality over profit, and never any B.S.