The crowdfunding site has hosted a staggering 37 jerky-based projects, at least half of which have successfully raised the sums sought—and much more. Jess Willis, to take a striking example, wanted to help out a local recession-hit restaurateur by sharing her Sriracha-infused beef jerky with the world; he set the goalposts at $800, and $18,000 flowed in from 580 backers.
Every possible variation of jerky is represented here: filet mignon, father-and-son-made, 100 percent organic, “sticky,” Australian, and, perhaps inevitably, bacon. Then, of course, there are those who go beyond the cured meat itself—some guys out in Utah devised classy, convenient packaging, while Jerky.com pooled the money they needed to create a mobile jerky store.
The passion for this dehydrated snack flows freely on each project page, with unique flavors rapturously described and an almost palpable aura of aromatic smoke hanging over each word. But what makes jerky so suited to the world of crowdfunding? Probably the fact that it’s one of those rare foodstuffs worthy of artisanal attention that can feasibly be sent through the mail.
Or maybe it’s that jerky is best enjoyed communally—the thought of curling up with Netflix and eating your way to the bottom of a bag alone is rather depressing. Still, with its rejection of cheap, mass-market, non-American products, this Kickstarter subgenre is a welcome reminder that just because we like to cram junk food into our faces, it doesn’t need to be junky.