10 Things You Didn’t Know About Beef Jerky

Jerky is popular all over the world

10 Things You Didn’t Know About Beef Jerky

Beef jerky is an incredibly popular snack food, and while it may be high in sodium, it’s lean and full of protein. We’re experiencing somewhat of a jerky renaissance these days, with companies like Jack Link’s and Matador being joined by more out-of-the-box companies like Krave, which was recently purchased by Hershey’s and sells jerky in flavors like chili lime and pineapple orange. Here are 10 things you might not know about this popular snack. 

Invention

Wikimedia Commons/ Larry Jacobsen

Beef jerky was invented around 1550 by the Quechua people, who are native to South America.

Its Earliest Purposes

Jerky’s first purpose was to provide a way for Native Americans to bring protein-rich food on long journeys.

Etymology

Wikimedia Commons. Stefano A

The word jerky is an Anglicization of the Native American term charqui, which means “dried meat.”

Space Food

NASA has been sending astronauts into space with jerky since 1996. 

Variations

Jerky can be made with just about any protein, and is available in turkey, pork, salmon, elk, moose, and many more varieties.

Slim Jim Shortage

In 2009, an explosion at a ConAgra manufacturing facility created a shortage of Slim Jim products nationwide.

Ethiopia

In Ethiopia, jerky is known as qwant'a.

It’s a Growing Industry

Meat snacks and jerky is an estimated $2.5 billion category in the United States, and it continues to grow.

It’s a Popular Wine Companion in Rome

Called coppiette, Roman jerky was traditionally horse or donkey meat, but is now usually made from pork. Seasoned with red pepper and fennel, it’s popular in Roman osterias. 

It Loses Two-Thirds of Its Weight During Drying

Each 30-gram serving of jerky starts out as 90 grams of meat.