The Rise and Fall of Lowrey’s Beef Jerky: Tracing a Snack Food Icon

Beef jerky lovers, prepare for a nostalgic walk down memory lane In this article, we’re exploring the history and curious case of Lowrey’s Beef Jerky – a snack staple that mysteriously faded from store shelves, leaving fans puzzled

From its early roots as a Pacific Northwest specialty to nationwide fame and eventual disappearance, we’ll uncover Lowrey’s fascinating beef jerky journey. Grab a road trip snack and let’s unravel this tangy tale!

A Family Recipe Takes Flight

Our story starts in 1918 with a young Italian immigrant named Constantino Oberto. After founding a small Seattle sausage shop, Oberto developed a prized family recipe for old-world beef jerky using top round and spices.

In the 1950s, Constantino’s son Art Oberto officially launched the jerky as the Lowrey’s brand, naming it after his friend Lowrey Short The tender jerky strips were an instant hit across Washington State.

By the 1960s, Lowrey’s Beef Jerky was being sold at convenience stores and markets throughout the Pacific Northwest. Its signature red packaging with an illustration of a cowpoke became iconic.

Breakout Success Nationwide

As Americans took to the highways in the 1960s and 70s, so did Lowrey’s. The hearty jerky was perfect road trip fare. Before long, Lowrey’s beef jerky could be found at truck stops and convenience stores across the contiguous U.S.

The snack boasted a loyal following of long-haul truckers, road trippers, and families looking for a satisfying on-the-go protein source. At its peak, Lowrey’s captured over 80% of Pacific Northwest jerky sales.

The Oberto Family Legacy

In the early 1980s, Oberto Sausage Company was purchased by Beatrice Foods but continued to manufacture Lowrey’s Beef Jerky. When Beatrice Foods later sold Oberto to John Morrell Company, a long legal battle over the Oberto family name ensued.

In 1986, Art Oberto’s son Tom bought back the family name rights and revived Oberto Sausage Company. Tom moved Oberto’s headquarters to Kent, Washington and continued producing Lowrey’s alongside Oberto’s signature sausage.

Under Tom Oberto’s leadership, Lowrey’s cemented its status as a grocery store staple across America through the 1980s and 90s. The red packaging with its cowboy mascot became iconic on store shelves.

New Ownership and Recalls

In 2011, Oberto was sold to Premium Brands Holdings Corporation. Under new ownership, Oberto continued manufacturing popular jerky brands like Lowrey’s and Pacific Gold.

However, the 2010s brought quality control issues. Multiple recalls were issued for possible salmonella and mislabeling. In 2013, Lowrey’s 1.5 oz peppered beef jerky packs were recalled due to an undeclared soy allergen. Brand trust took a hit.

Outpaced by Competition?

By the 2010s, the meat snack landscape was changing. Brands like Jack Link’s brought bold marketing and convenience store distribution that older brands struggled to match. New players like Duke’s and Krave experimented with inventive flavors and grass-fed meat.

Lowrey’s beef jerky faced stiff competition from these hip upstarts. Their straightforward original recipe struggled to stand out among bolder, innovative options. Lowrey’s faded from prominence on store shelves.

Today, tracking down an elusive pack of Lowrey’s jerky has become a novelty for fans of the vintage brand. But its legacy lives on in jerky lore and nostalgia.

Remembering an Iconic Jerky

For a generation of Americans, Lowrey’s Beef Jerky was the jerky. It offered the perfect balance of smoky, peppery flavor and tender, satisfying chew.

Here are some of the qualities that made Lowrey’s Beef Jerky an icon:

  • Memorable mascot – The cowboy logo was instantly recognizable. As American as jerky itself.

  • NW roots – Lowrey’s repped Seattle jerky pride before going national. PNW authenticity.

  • Road trip ritual – Truckers and travelers alike relied on Lowrey’s for road munchies.

  • Peppery zing – The black pepper kick was the perfect foil to rich, savory beef.

  • Famous fans – Everyone from blue-collar workers to hike-loving earth mamas sa vored Lowrey’s.

  • Tradition – Serving Lowrey’s at holiday gatherings became tradition for many families.

Lowrey’s may be hard to find today, but the brand name still evokes happy memories of simpler times and classic jerky flavor. It remains an icon of American snack food history.

Other Old-School Jerky Brands

While Lowrey’s has faded, other old-school beef jerky brands are still chugging along. Here are a few vintage jerky makers you can still find today:

Slim Jim – This convenience store staple has been around since 1937, now offering beef sticks in bold flavors.

People’s Choice – A Midwest favorite at truck stops and gas stations since the 1960s.

Pemmican – This jerky is made by Oregon’s Tillamook Country Smoker using historic native recipes.

Oberto – Lowrey’s founding fathers at Oberto Sauce Company still make jerky today.

Bridgford – Beef jerky pioneers since 1932, making jerky, sticks, and more.

Matador – A Texas tradition since 1950, their peppered jerky has a cult following.

These OG beef jerky brands offer a nostalgic meaty taste of yesteryear. Step back in time with a road trip worthy snack!

The Future of Lowrey’s

Could we ever see a comeback for Lowrey’s beef jerky? Never say never.

With consumers craving retro brands and flavors, a reboot remains possible. The famous red packaging alone could provoke warm fuzzies in longtime fans.

For now, the Lowrey’s Beef Jerky legacy lives on in the memories of generations of Americans who grew up savoring those smoky, peppery strips. Its DNA is safely preserved in jerky lore.

Jerky Enjoys a Renaissance

While Lowrey’s fate may remain unknown, one thing is certain – beef jerky has enjoyed an artisanal renaissance in recent years. What was once Gas Station 101 fare has been elevated to gourmet status.

Today, you can find small-batch jerkies made from grass-fed beef, free-range bison, even fresh fish. Flavors range from sweet bourbon to fiery ghost pepper. Jerky has come a long way from Slim Jims!

Yet whether it’s a modern jerk or a vintage brand like Lowrey’s, one truth remains – beef jerky makes the ultimate satisfying snack. That craveable chew and peppery punch never goes out of style.

So next road trip, reach for the jerky. And if you’re lucky enough to spot Lowrey’s iconic red packaging, grab a pack and enjoy a bite of old school snacking nostalgia.

How Long Does Beef Jerky Last? Does Beef Jerky Go Bad? | JERKY UNIVERSE


How to tell if beef jerky has gone bad?

Mold, discoloration, or sliminess on the surface of the beef jerky are all signs of spoilage and should not be ignored. Fresh jerky should be uniform in color and free of any visible mold or growth. If you notice such signs on your jerky, it’s best to dispose of it and find a replacement.

Why is beef jerky so expensive?

Even so, beef jerky is expensive. Beef jerky is so expensive because it uses a lot of quality meat to make just a little bit of jerky, the process takes resources and employees’ time, and beef jerky producers often buy from the beef industry and the price of beef can be expensive.

Do you really have to refrigerate beef jerky after opening?

Jerky can be kept in your pantry for up to a year or until the best-by date on the package. Once opened, you should keep your jerky in the fridge. Taking these measures once opened will ensure your jerky stays fresh for up to 3 days. If your jerky requires refrigeration, it should say so on the bag or box.

What is Lowrey’s beef jerky?

SAVE 10% on Your First Order! Save 10% off Sitewide! Exploding with the big, bold flavor you crave. Lowrey’s beef jerky is an extra tender, portable snack your whole family will love. It’s perfect for lunch boxes or everyday snacking.

Where is Oberto meat jerky made?

The company was founded in 1918 by Constantino Oberto in Seattle, Washington. It is now headquartered in Kent, Washington. The company sells products under the Oberto, Oberto Classics, Lowrey’s Meat Snacks, Pacific Gold Beef Jerky and Cattleman’s Cut brands. [citation needed]

When did Oberto Jerky come out?

Oberto continued to grow through the 1960s with the production of its flagship beef jerky product and introduction of the product at Safeway stores in 1967. Safeway was the first national grocery chain to carry Oberto jerky. In 1990, Laura Oberto joined her father in a leadership role and became the co-chairman of the company.

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