Who eats beef jerky? According to Statista, about 40% of the U.S. population. Beef jerky is the one of the fastest growing segments of the food industry, largely because people have less time but also want foods that are low in calories and high in vitamins, minerals and protein. But jerky is more than a trend. Jerky has been a part of American food culture since before Europeans first landed on this soil. Based on decades of advertising, you’d be forgiven for thinking that beef jerky was a hyper-masculine snack. The truth is, all kinds of people eat jerky, and we’ve rounded up just a few of the top 7 examples of jerky eater categories you might fall into.

1.     The Cowboys & Pioneers

Jerky involves an ancient Incan food preservation technique that Europeans first encountered when the Spanish Conquistadors arrived in North America in the 1550s. Incan tribes actually used a freeze-drying process (made possible by the cold, dry Andean Mountains), and added salt to prevent bacteria from growing. The Spanish adopted and modified the preservation for their own use, and jerky quickly became a staple of American settlement.

Early traders and explorers prized jerky as one of the best sources of nutrition when travelling to new areas with limited food supply. Jerky became a staple for cowboys and pioneers because they could hunt anywhere along their trail and dry any leftover meat before moving on. While the American wilds were settled long ago, cowboys and pioneers at heart still turn to jerky for its nostalgia.

2.     The Country’s Bravest

Beef jerky’s intrepid reputation continues to this day, as one of the most requested foods among soldiers and astronauts. Because jerky is light-weight, nutrient-rich and long-lasting, it provides the perfect trifecta for heroes on the go. Since NASA first began introducing solid foods into astronauts’ diets, jerky has made it onto almost every flight into space.

Jerky is also one of the most requested foods among American service-men and -women. Soldiers say that its consistency and high flavor provide a welcome break from other Meals Ready to Eat (MREs), while also being long lasting and portable.

3.     The Road Tripper

You don’t have to be a frontier adventurer to enjoy the delights of beef jerky, however. Jerky accounted for $641.8 million in American convenience store sales in 2018, and is second only to pickled meat as the most popular meat snack in Europe. Jerky has long been a highly popular gas station snack, and its popularity is only growing.

Most marketers attribute the rise in road trip jerky to a mixture of health concerns and convenience. When you’re on the road you need fast, portable food that doesn’t require heating, cooling or utensils. At the same time, growing health consciousness in the western world has people shying away from traditional sugary snacks like doughnuts, cookies and candy, and salty snacks like chips (at least a little bit). Jerky falls into a healthier snack category along with nuts, seeds, prepared popcorn, and dried fruit.  

4.     The Body Builder

The daily recommended protein intake for a 160-pound, sedentary adult is about 57 grams per day. That’s typically about 10% of your caloric intake, and most Americans achieve that or more in their daily diets. But to increase muscle mass, athletes in training need about 0.5 to 0.8 grams of protein per body weight per day. That same 160-pound adult would suddenly need 80 to 128 grams of protein to be building the muscles they need to perform.

While body builders often turn to whey protein in the form of shakes, these can contain a high sugar content, and can contain too much protein, which puts a strain on the kidneys and can cause weigh gain. Many body builders have turned to jerky for their post workout meal because it hits the sweet spot of low fat, low sugar, and just the right amount of protein (about 10-20 grams).    

5.     The Heart Healthy Snacker

Though many mass-produced convenient store jerkies can be loaded with sodium, craft jerky is one of the healthiest snacks for your heart . Unprocessed jerky is loaded with vitamins and minerals that support heart and overall health like zinc, iron, vitamin B12, phosphorus and folate. All jerky is low in fat and sugar, which helps support heart health, but many heart-health conscious people have traditionally shied away from it because just a serving of regular jerky can pack almost 22% of your daily recommended sodium intake. Crockett Creek Jerky, by contrast, is low in nitrates and MSG because we emphasize a more natural drying and curing process.  

6.     The Restrictive Dieter

Whole30, paleo, keto and gluten-intolerant dieters alike turn to jerky because of its simplicity and natural goodness. Beef jerky is a perfect paleo or Whole30 diet snack because it’s free from dairy, and as long as you are careful about the flavor you choose, also sugar-free. Because it doesn’t affect your insulin levels, it’s a great snack for diabetics and keto dieters (though keto enthusiasts might wish for a little more fat). Gluten-intolerant dieters might still need to check labels on beef and other jerkies to make sure that their flavor choice doesn’t have added ingredients containing wheat protein, but most standard jerkies are gluten-free. But – not Crockett Creek! We are gluten-free!

7.     The Next Generations

Millennials and Gen Z prefer snacks that are less processed, made with natural ingredients and are available in multiple, intriguing flavors. Jerky hits every note on that list, and its popularity with younger generations grows every day with new jerky types like elk, buffalo, venison, and turkey. Jerky flavors on the Crockett Creek menu also range from the traditional teriyaki and steakhouse to exciting new combinations like honey jalapeno and bayou boil.

Join the Jerky Trend with Crockett Creek

At Crockett Creek, we respect the traditional, craft heritage of jerky that appeals to people far and wide for its taste, convenience, and health benefits. We know the reputation that more processed jerky companies have created for this staple is a macho-man, high sodium snack, and we want to leave all that in the past. Our jerky is different. It’s the low-carb, vitamin rich, high protein snack that all kinds of people are demanding in their busy, health-conscious lifestyles.

Whether you’re looking for something spicy, salty, tangy, or even a mixture of all three, we’re sure to have a jerky to satisfy. Visit our website for a full selection of flavors, and to get a piece of the healthiest, most satisfying jerky around!