When two Hutchinson natives met in an arm wrestling competition at the Kansas State Fair eight years ago, they would not in their wildest dreams believe they would be partners in a meat business.
In April, after months of experimentation and refinement, Beau Erhardt and Devin Gagnebin launched Primal: Premium Beef Jerky. With the help of Krehbiels Specialty Meats in McPherson, the two started a new product line. Because they avoid chemicals and food dye, the two said their meat tastes similar to homemade beef jerky.
"It was a lot of work to get the texture right," Gagnebin said. "It was a lot of work to get the recipe right."
Although the coronavirus was in full bloom when they started marketing their product, the two saw this period as a way for them to start off slow and get all the kinks worked out.
"It happened to be a blessing because we could iron out a lot of the wrinkles," Gagnebin said. "We have really high hopes for it once COVID is beat."
Currently, Primal is available at Smith’s Market in Hutchinson and Hometown Food Store in Buhler. As of this week, the product is going into other food stores, liquor stores and specialty stores throughout Kansas.
The two men decided to label each flavor by the amount of heat they feel it produces, as well as a different label color. Primal Teriyaki possesses zero heat and has a purple claw mark on the label. Primal Original is slightly higher in heat and has a blue paw mark. The jalapeno-bacon flavor comes with a green color package and a two heat level, while the sweet and spicy flavor has an orange paw print on its label with a 3.5 spicy level. Their hottest flavor to date is Primal Hot, which is at a five heat level.
The newest flavor the company expects to release in November is pepper. After pepper, Primal is going to produce a very hot flavor - but they are not sure how hot yet.
Erdhardt and Gagnebin hope to place their beef jerky in markets throughout their home state. Eventually, they want to grow demand outside of Kansas. Because of their online presence, they’ve sold Primal in 35 states so far.
"Our first goal is to get it throughout Kansas," Erhardt said. "We’re not trying to go too fast."
Creating name recognition is important to them, and so is giving back to the community. Primal sponsors a bowling team in McPherson and several race cars.
"We’re excited," Erhardt said. "It tastes way more authentic than commercial beef jerky."