Basil Citrus. Pineapple Orange. Black Cherry BBQ. Chili Lime.
These aren’t the newest infused cocktails, or savory deserts. They’re just some of the flavors in a line of jerky. OK, OK, I know, as soon as you think of “jerky” your mind recalls images of dried up masses of leather-like, jaw achingly, questionable snacks. But, this is jerky is different. The team at KRAVE Jerky is looking to completely change how people consume jerky. According to CEO and founder Jonathan Sebastiani, “KRAVE aims to make the best jerky you’ve ever had…” What makes KRAVE different is the taste of the jerky, and the people who consume it.
KRAVE Jerky is made differently than most of the truck stop fare you’ll find pedaled across interstate highways. It is not stuffed with nitrates, MSG, or corn syrup. KRAVE marinates the hand-sliced pieces of meat for two days, and then they bake it. The end result is a much softer jerky. If you purchase the basil citrus flavor, you actually see the flakes of basil sprinkled on the jerky. In this way, KRAVE is more like pizza from a café in Italian countryside, as opposed to Dominoes delivery.
Jonathan decided to take beef jerky to the gourmet level when he was training for the New York City Marathon in 2009. “Nutrition plays such an integral role in building speed, endurance, and preventing injuries and naturally, protein is a key component to any athlete’s training diet.”
Why Jerky? Jonathan says it had to do with the place he was raised. “Growing up in Sonoma, I was crazy about a local jerky – for reasons stemming from health-consciousness but also because it’s a delicious snack! To add to that, being fortunate enough to grow up in such an agriculturally bountiful area imbued in me a great draw to all-natural foods – and then the exposure to the very distinct culinary style that developed in Northern California created the perfect triad: I wanted to train with jerky that was all-natural, devoid of chemicals, and tasted amazing.”
Today KRAVE has a partnership with a team of professional athletes, including this year’s winner of the Boston Marathon. Other customers of KRAVE, “…run the gamut from this somewhat non-traditional consumer to the guys in the hunting lodge. KRAVE appeals to the parents concerned with what they’re putting in her kids’ lunches and to the single, thirty-something that’s having a party and wants to offer his or her guests something to munch on that’s substantial and pairs wonderfully with wine, beer, and spirits,” says Jonathan. That’s right, you can even go on to their website and find out what libations pair best with your favorite flavor of KRAVE jerky.
So what’s next for KRAVE? This month they are coming out with five new flavors of G.A.P. certified jerky, created specifically for Whole Foods supermarkets. G.A.P. stands for Global Animal Partnership, and it's a non-profit aimed at improving the welfare of animals in agriculture. Jonathan thinks the biggest chance for the company to grow comes in the form of education. “…[P]erhaps our biggest opportunity is to re-educate people about the health benefits of jerky.” Jonathan hopes this re-education comes through “…the repositioning of jerky as a sophisticated snack that truly complements an active and health-conscious lifestyle.”
Perhaps your re-education will occur when the bright, clean aesthetic of KRAVE jerky’s packaging catches your eye in the supermarket, when you find that your favorite beer pairs well with the lemon garlic turkey jerky, or when you open up a package and sink your teeth into a slice.
You can find KRAVE in Whole Foods by the end of this month or explore the flavor pairings on their website, here.