Iowa restaurant veteran and beef straw inventor Ben Hirko says he got the idea after a customer brought a few beef jerky sticks into a bar where he was working. He began experimenting with homemade versions and eventually found a business partner who shared a similar Bloody Mary edible straw dream.
Sticks of jerky are not "punched" to make the straws. Instead, Hirko and his business partner developed a custom machine to make the 100% USDA beef straws at a Nebraska meat-processing facility. Hirko also adds that they are not meant to temper stomach rumblings at the office -- unless you happen to have a 10 a.m. cocktail-friendly boss.
"If they are snacked on like a regular beef snack stick, they will seem a little dry," Hirko told us via email. "This is by design. We do this so they absorb more of the drink while in the Bloody Mary; they really shine when used as intended."
Currently, Alex's Bar in Long Beach is the only local bar or restaurant listed on Hirko's website as a client, though Hirko clarified that they likely bought the straws for a past special event. The same goes for 505 Games, an Italian video game company with an outpost in Woodland Hills, listed rather hilariously as a retailer alongside Iowa liquor stores (perhaps we'll be seeing beef straws among the top 10 video game weapons soon). [UPDATE: Hirko emailed shortly after this post ran to say that Alex's Bar in Long Beach coincidentally reordered beef straws last night for what appears to be general, everyday Bloody Mary consumption.]
Hirko is hoping for more L.A.-area jerky straw support soon, but in the meantime, you can order the straws online. They're not inexpensive: four packages, each with five straws, is $22.95. That's $1.15 per straw, $1.60 by the time you add in shipping. But hey, these are straws made from beef jerky.
Are beef jerky straws a Bloody Mary necessity? Of course not. And for staunch celery conservatives, we suspect the straws won't ever be up for weekend sipping consideration. But if you're a more adventurous brunch type, just imagine the preseason (!!) tailgating fun. Next up: Spicy chicken wing beer mugs.