It all started a million years ago when a bolt of lightning hit the dusty floor of Northern Africa, showing Man he could put meat over a fire and call it Jerky. The origins of the word itself are believed to have been the work of the Early Egyptian Pharaoh Neheb Ka III, when one of Neheb’s servants brought him a slice of the spiced, smoked meat as an offering to the Gods. Neheb, upon seeing the lowly Plebian snack food, was so incensed at the servant that he decided to have him executed on the spot. Only after tasting the delicious morsel did Neheb realize that the slice of meat was in fact fit for the Gods, and he decided to name it after the servant he had just punished. That servant’s name was “Jerkei”.

Fast-forward to the American Revolution, specifically to Valley Forge, where the bitter cold of the ruthless winter almost ended the fight for Independence. A lost excerpt from George Washington’s journals of the War reads, “I had believed all was lost. I had thought hunger would strike us from this World and end our mission. But Jerky, the smoked, everlasting morsel, the meat of the Gods, it saved us. It brought us from the brink.”


Photo by Tess Wei

Theorists believe that George Washington himself was responsible for the now-colloquial spelling and pronunciation of “Jerky,” though this it is hotly debated even today. Nevertheless, it has become apparent that without the salty, sweet, smoky morsel, America as we know it would never have existed. Without Jerky, we wouldn’t have Nascar, or Football, or Baseball, or anything America is really known for. The world, truly, would not have been the same.

So, now that the importance of Jerky has been established, we can embark on the unforgettable journey through all that is Jerky, brought to you by Spoon University’s own Swarthmore College Chapter. This is the first of a series of articles that will bring you, the reader, closer to your Jerky roots, and allow you to appreciate Jerky in ways you never thought possible.

Up next, an in-depth review of one of the World’s best up-and-coming Jerky brands, and how they aim to take the world by storm…


Photo by Tess Wei