Sunday, June 03, 2001

Jerky makers find TV beefs up orders




By Chuck Martin
The Cincinnati Enquirer

[photo] Joe and Colleen Lachenman in front of their Camp Washington factory
(Enqurier file photo)
| ZOOM |
        Joe and Colleen Lachenman now believe in the power of the Food Network.

        A short segment on the Northern Kentucky couple's business, Wild Joe's Beef Jerky, aired on Snacks Unwrapped on the cable channel at 10 p.m. May 23. Within four days, the Lachenmans had more than 60,000 hits on their Web site and almost 300 orders for jerky from customers in New York to Hawaii.

        “They had us up there with Frito-Lay, Hostess and the other big guys,” Mr. Lachenman says. “The response has been excellent.”

        We first told you about Wild Joe's in January. The Lachenmans slice, marinate and slow-cook thin slices of lean beef at a former sausage plant in Camp Washington.

        Until 1990, Mr. Lachenman owned two meat stores in Northern Kentucky. But, with his wife's encouragement, he sold the stores to make and sell beef jerky. Wild Joe's products are now available in nine states and by mail-order.

        Partially because of the popularity of low-carbohydrate diets, “meat snacks,” which includes beef jerky, has been the fastest-growing snack food category during the last decade, says the Snack Food Association in Alexandria, Va.

        The first year, Mr. Lachenman turned a little more than a ton of beef into jerky. This year, he expects to hand-slice more than 31 tons of beef. That production may grow if the Food Network continues to rerun the Snacks Unwrapped show.

        The hour-long program features vignettes on other famous snacks — cheese doodles, Doritos, popcorn, fruit pies and Twinkies. But Wild Joe's is the only jerky to get air time. A Food Network producer stumbled onto the Wild Joe's Web site last summer and called the Lachenmans to ask if they would appear on the show.

        “There are a jillion beef jerky companies out there,” says Ms. Lachenman, who is prepared for the influx of jerky orders. “And it was an honor for them to choose a small company like ours.”

       For information on how and where to buy Wild Joe's jerky, see www.wildjoesbeefjerky.com or call (800) 577-5910. To find out when Snacks Unwrapped will rerun, see FoodTV.com.

       



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