Who invented beef jerky? It’s a question that has been asked by many people who love the sweet and salty treat. The answer to who invented this savory snack is not as clear cut as you might think it is. The first known mention of beef jerky was made in 1872, when an American traveler wrote about eating the dry meat during his visit to China. From there, stories and recipes for making jerky at home began popping up all over America in newspapers, magazines, cookbooks and other publications.

The origins of Beef Jerky

If you are looking for who invented beef jerky, then it’s unclear who that may be. It is thought to have first appeared in Europe and made its way to America with the Europeans who settled here. The earliest known mention of beef jerky was found by archaeologists who uncovered a Native American village called Spirit Cave (Nevada) dating back 1200 years ago–about 500 AD according to carbon-dating evidence. This discovery includes references about “cured meat” which could very well refer to beef jerky given the similarities between these two dishes: Jerky can also be cured using salt). In addition, words like ‘jerked’ or ‘jerk’, as they pertain to food preparation often include cooking or smoking over an open fire.

How Beef Jerky came to America

Beef jerky has it’s start in the America  when it was first introduced by Spanish explorers who brought dried meat from South America to Spain. From there, the Europeans who settled in America adopted the process of dehydration and made a dish that has become one of the most popular foods on our supermarket shelves today.

One idea is that an unknown individual or group of people may have been making their own version for years before they began selling commercially under this name. Another theory says that early settlers used leftover cuts like flank steak, bottom round and sirloin tip which could be sliced thin enough for drying with relative ease without refrigeration. Whatever its origins are, beef jerky quickly became a favorite food among hunters who would take large pieces along as provisions on hunting trips.

How Jerky Became Popular

Jerky became popular in the United States after World War II.  Soldiers who wanted to send meat home from the Pacific theater of operations needed a way to preserve it. They turned to beef jerky which had been traditional among American troops in World War II and Korean War because they were often on long patrols without refrigeration.

The invention of vacuum packaging, as well as transportation innovations like cars with closed containers that kept food cold when transporting cross-country also helped make this popular snack even more accessible for all consumers who enjoy its great taste and convenient preparation method.


There is no known inventor of beef jerky, but its origins date back hundreds of years. It was brought to America by Spanish explorers and European settlers, but became popular in the United States after World War II. Beef jerky has become a staple snack for many people who enjoy it’s convenience as well as its high protein content. So next time you are out on your hike or just need an easy afternoon snack with some substance try this tasty treat!

/ Our Service Area

Private Label Jerky Company
705 Medina St Lodi, OH 44254
Phone: (330) 302-0607
Store Hours:
Monday – Friday:
6:00am – 5:00pm
Contact Us