The History of Beef Jerky: From Ancient Times to Today

Beef jerky is a delicious, protein-packed snack that has been around for centuries. What many people don't know is that beef jerky has a long and rich history dating back to ancient times. Here's a brief overview of the history of beef jerky from its humble beginnings to the tasty treat we know and love today.

The Origins of Beef Jerky

The earliest known mention of beef jerky comes from a Chinese document from 1599 AD that describes Emperor Wan Li's journey through the southern provinces of China. The document mentions dried meats being given to the emperor and his court during their travels. It's likely that these meats were seasoned with spice, salt, and smoke to preserve them, similar to modern-day beef jerky.

From China, the idea of dried meat traveled westward along the Silk Road. It is thought that Roman soldiers discovered dried meats while stationed in present-day Turkey and brought the idea back to Rome with them. These "Roman style" dried meats became popular among European nobility as an immersive delicacy.

Beef Jerky's Arrival to North America

The first recorded instance of beef jerky in the Americas comes from Spanish explorer Juan Ponce de Leon, who noted in his journals that Native Americans were drying strips of meat in the sun as early as 1521. Traditional Native American methods of preparation included rubbing the meat with fat or brains before hanging it up to dry in the smoke from their fires.

The popularity of beef jerky continued to grow in North America during the 1800s as new methods of food preservation were developed. One of these methods was using vinegar and salt to cure meat, which resulted in a product closer to modern-day Beef Jerky. This method was perfected by Robert Warren Murray Jr., who opened the first commercial beef jerky factory in 1926. His company, Murray's Jerkies, is still in operation today and sells some of the best beef jerky on the market!

Beef Jerky Today

Beef jerky is a delicious snack with a long and interesting history dating back centuries. What started as a way to preserve meat has evolved into an international delicacy enjoyed by people all over the world. The next time you're enjoying a delicious piece of beef jerky, take a moment to think about all the places it's been and all the people who have enjoyed it over the years. Thank you for taking the time to read this blog post! I hope you found it informative and enjoyable.