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Food and Cooking

Tanka Bars: Try this ancient Native American recipe for modern energy and nutrition

Tanka Bars: Try this ancient Native American recipe for modern energy and nutrition

Tanka Bars blend ancient recipe and nutrition with new packaging and marketing.

by Leon Pantenburg

Disclaimer:  Azure Standard is a Survivalcommonsense.com sponsor. I bought these products to test and try out. This is my opinion and nobody had any input into the content.

I want to know where my food comes from. And I want organic. Add some historic ingredients and sound nutrition and I’m sold. Tie all that up in with attractive, easy-to-carry  packaging and somebody take my money!

Bison at Yellowstone National Park.

Bison at Yellowstone National Park. (Bob Patterson photo)

Those are just some of the reasons I like the Tanka Bar. The Tanka Bar tastes good, and only has 70 calories for a one-ounce bar.

Slightly smoky tasting and sweet, this isn’t that chewy, tough jerky that requires good teeth and strong jaw muscles to eat.

The recipe goes back to prehistoric times: buffalo meat and berries. And like the original, the Tanka Bar has no nitrates, and no antibiotics or added hormones.

“We started with the traditional recipe for wasna and thought to modernize it. We tried all sorts of ideas to improve on wasna, but each time we added something to the mix, we went further away from what we intended,” the Tankafund.org website claims. “It could not be improved! We came full circle to see that the traditional flavors of meat with fruit were perfect.”

The bison was much more than a source of food for the Natives. According to Lakota elder Virgil Kills Straight, on the website:

“In the Lakota language, the word ‘tatanka’ is translated as ‘buffalo’ or ‘buffalo bull. However, according to native Lakota speakers, the literal translation is something more like ‘He who owns us.’

“The four-leggeds came before the two-leggeds. They are our older brother, we came from them. Before them, we were the root people. We came from them. We are the same thing. That is why we are spiritually related to them. We call them in our language “Tatanka,” which means “He Who Owns Us.” We cannot say that we own the buffalo because he owns us, ” Kills Straight explains.

The Tanka Bar is a traditional recipe energy bar.

The Tanka Bar is a traditional recipe energy bar.

Here are the Tanka Bar specs:

Calories 70
Calories from Fat 15
Amount/Serving %DV
Total Fat 1.5g 2%
Saturated Fat 1g 4%
Trans Fat 0g
Cholesterol 15mg 6%
Sodium 260mg 15%
Total Carbohydrate 7g 2%
Dietary Fiber 1g 2%
Sugars 6g
Protein 7g
Vitamin A 0%
Vitamin C 4%
Calcium 0%
Iron 4%


  • buffalo
  • dried cranberries (cranberries
  • sugar)
  • water
  • salt and less than 2% of flavorings
  • red pepper
  • granulated garlic
  • granulated onion
  • lactic acid starter culture

If you’re looking for a trail food that supplies quick energy and are tired of the whole grain commercial brands, take a look at the Tanka Bar. They go for about $2 each, which is a steal for a nutritious snack. (Lays original potato chips go for $1 per bag in the vending machine outside my office.)

Put these in a kid’s lunchbox and maybe they won’t be tempted to go after the junk food.

I like the whole concept of Tonka Bars. You might like them too.

Read the story of the bison and its connection with the Indian people.

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Food and Cooking

Leon Pantenburg is a wilderness enthusiast, and doesn't claim to be a survival expert or expertise as a survivalist. As a newspaperman and journalist for three decades, covering search and rescue, sheriff's departments, floods, forest fires and other natural disasters and outdoor emergencies, Leon learned many people died unnecessarily or escaped miraculously from outdoor emergency situations when simple, common sense might have changed the outcome. Leon now teaches common sense techniques to the average person in order to avert potential disasters. His emphasis is on tried and tested, simple techniques of wilderness survival. Every technique, piece of equipment or skill recommended on this website has been thoroughly tested and researched. After graduating from Iowa State University, Leon completed a six-month, 2,552-mile solo Mississippi River canoe trip from the headwaters at Lake Itasca, Minn., to the Gulf of Mexico. His wilderness backpacking experience includes extended solos through Yellowstone’s backcountry; hiking the John Muir Trail in California, and numerous shorter trips along the Pacific Crest Trail. Other mountain backpacking trips include hikes through the Uintas in Utah; the Beartooths in Montana; the Sawtooths in Idaho; the Pryors, the Wind River Range, Tetons and Bighorns in Wyoming; Rocky Mountain National Park in Colorado, the Catskills in New York and Death Valley National Monument in southern California. Some of Leon's canoe trips include sojourns through the Okefenokee Swamp and National Wildlife Refuge in Georgia, the Big Black River swamp in Mississippi and the Boundary Waters canoe area in northern Minnesota and numerous small river trips in the Midwest and Pacific Northwest. Leon is also an avid fisherman and an elk, deer, upland game and waterfowl hunter. Since 1991, Leon has been an assistant scoutmaster with Boy Scout Troop 18 in Bend, and is a scoutmaster wilderness skills trainer for the Boy Scouts’ Fremont District. Leon earned a second degree black belt in Taekwondo, and competed in his last tournament (sparring and form) at age 49. He is an enthusiastic Bluegrass mandolin picker and fiddler and two-time finalist in the International Dutch Oven Society’s World Championships.

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