Newspaper article St Louis Post-Dispatch (MO)

A Snack You Can Sink Your Teeth Into

Newspaper article St Louis Post-Dispatch (MO)

A Snack You Can Sink Your Teeth Into

Article excerpt

UNTIL VERY recently, I never ate beef jerky, not even a Slim Jim from the convenience store and certainly not one of those flat, dehydrated things that look like a slice of shoe. To me, jerky was worse than bacon, which is bad enough, but at least I could tell where bacon comes from. I thought jerky smelled like the end of a salami you forgot about in the refrigerator and felt like a dirty comb.

And then there's the name, JERKY.

What does that mean? Who could eat a thing that's named for an adjective? As I said, I ate it and it wasn't so bad. OK, it was pretty good. Actually, it was grand - it was the 1996 Missouri Grand Champion Restructured Jerky, made by the Swiss Meat Sausage Company of Swiss, Mo. Now Swiss is a dot of a town west of St. Louis and south of Hermann on Highway 19. A lot of St. Louisans think Swiss and the Swiss Meat & Sausage Company are their own little secrets. Well, if they ever were, they're not anymore. It's hard to keep quiet about the Grand Champion beef jerky. The 250-member Missouri Association of Meat Processors bestows this coveted title on beef jerky for its appearance, flavor, workmanship, texture and aroma. At least that's the official story. Mike Sloan, Swiss Meat & Sausage president and general manager, believes "what it gets down to is a good product, but also it's just a matter of what the judges prefer." And this year the judges preferred Mike's jerky over the other 30-plus entries - at last. Mike has entered his jerky in the statewide contest seven times. The first two years he won third prize. "I thought, hey, this is easy. Then nothing happened." So Mike went back to the carving board. He changed the seasonings, adjusted the spices and asked employees to vote on the jerkiest jerky to set before the judges. The results are a new plaque on the award wall at Swiss Meat & Sausage and soaring beef jerky sales. …

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