Jerky Week 2012 Wrap-Up

We know. You're like, "What gives with all the dried meats? (And sharks?)" Deal is, a few weeks ago, writer David Zax found himself as the recipient of several pitches from startup purveyors of various jerkies. What if, he thought, this was just the fleshy tip of the meat iceberg? So he went on a hunt to find out if there was more beefy, juicy spice lurking just beneath the salty surface. It turns out, jerky is a hot space for innovation, where we found a rare convergence of actual, physical product and next-level, out-of-the-box thinking. There's even a corporate behemoth (Slim Jim) to disrupt. Simply put: We're hungry for innovation. And jerky satisfies.

So we decided to spend a week profiling the savoriest, savviest jerky jockeys looking to take a bite out of Big Jerky. Jerky Week is our Shark Week. Along the way, we learned a few things--about the retail game, about perceptions and misperceptions of jerky consumers, and about our own masculinity. Here's a wrap-up.

(Read all five Jerky Week installments here.)

[Base Image: Flickr user Marc Hanauer]

Jerky Week, Part 1: How SlantShack Scales Artisanal Jerky
It's not all truckers and campers. SlantShack showed us how fine cured meats can fit your lifestyle like a flesh tuxedo.

Jerky Week, Part 1: How SlantShack Scales Artisanal Jerky
Jerky Week, Part 1: How SlantShack Scales Artisanal Jerky
Introducing David Koretz, the man behind SlantShack's fancypants jerky.

Jerky Week, Part 1: How SlantShack Scales Artisanal Jerky

[Base Image: Flickr user Willy Volk]
Jerky Week, Part 2: Is Perky Jerky The Next Red Bull?
Perky Jerky=Caffeine+Jerky. What could go wrong?

Jerky Week, Part 2: Is Perky Jerky The Next Red Bull?

[Base Image: Flickr user Franca Leyendecker]
Jerky Week, Part 2: Is Perky Jerky The Next Red Bull?
Meet Brian Levin, "Chairman of the Herd" at Perky Jerky, the man driving the dried meats' (Red) bull market.

Jerky Week, Part 2: Is Perky Jerky The Next Red Bull?

[Base Image: Flickr user The Food Junk]
Jerky Week, Part 3: Would You Buy Beef Jerky In Bulk Online From This Man?
BulkBeefJerky.com is the only one-stop shop for all of your down-home cocktail party and doomsday prepper needs.

Jerky Week, Part 3: Would You Buy Beef Jerky In Bulk Online From This Man?

[Base Image: Flickr user James Tworow, and Flickr user Bruce Camera]
Jerky Week, Part 3: Would You Buy Beef Jerky In Bulk Online From This Man?
Meat? Peter Garbowski's got it in bulk.

Jerky Week, Part 3: Would You Buy Beef Jerky In Bulk Online From This Man?

[Base Image: Flickr user Opus Moreschi]
Jerky Week, Part 4: A Jerky Empire Rises
Only amateurs buy jerky at the local Loaf 'N' Jug. The Beef Jerky Outlet is Costco for carnivores, part of a growing meat empire.

Jerky Week, Part 4: A Jerky Empire Rises

[Base Image: Flickr user Hermanus Backpackers]
Jerky Week, Part 4: A Jerky Empire Rises
Paul Lyons is the Darth Vader of beef jerky. His lightsaber is dark brown--and delicious.Jerky Week, Part 4: A Jerky Empire Rises

[Base Image: Flickr user Willy Volk]
Jerky Week, Part 5: Big Jerky Speaks
Every story needs an antagonist. America might love them some Slim Jims, but jerky startups see a giant target on his back.

Jerky Week, Part 5: Big Jerky Speaks

[Base Image: Flickr user Ken Body, and Flickr user Kevin Barnett]
Jerky Week, Part 5: Big Jerky Speaks
Slim Jim brand manager Daniel Marple is remarkably courteous and engaging for a guy who represents Big Jerky.

Jerky Week, Part 5: Big Jerky Speaks

[Base Image: Flickr user Borrowed]