The exquisite and unforgettable taste of Big John’s Beef Jerky is a masterful creation years in the making. This flavorful family recipe was first cured in the 1970’s as a hobby of Pastor “Big John” Foster in Tennessee and then York, Pennsylvania. While “Big John” never desired to turn his savory jerky into a commercial business, he did sell some to a loyal group of jerky enthusiasts, which helped supplement his church income as he raised his family.
His daughter, Renee and her husband, Bill Lenzer, were celebrating their first wedding anniversary in Duck, North Carolina in 1998, when they started talking about the future. The two met and were still working as managers and supervisors of a chain of Pizza Hut restaurants. They wanted to start their own business. Renee suggested jerky, but Bill didn’t even eat jerky at the time and knew nothing about it.
Under the expert tutelage of “Big John,” Bill learned the trade and has spent the past 20 years perfecting the original recipe, using thick cuts of prime United States beef in 100% handmade batches and concocting some 15 appetizing flavors. Now Bill can’t stop eating the proceeds!
In 2004, the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) came out with new regulations on how jerky could be processed to control Salmonella, e-coli and other pathogens. It took years of tinkering and significant modifications to time and temperature to re-create the perfect blend. Bill, who lost his sense of smell, which affects his sense of taste, in a car accident when he was 18, has depended on tasters to help him adjust his batches. He values customer feedback more than anything. Today, slow smoked for more than 14 hours (more than three times the industry standard), “Big John’s” is much more flavorful, has a better texture and more consistency than when Bill started some 700,000 pounds ago. “We won’t be satisfied until everyone in America says this is the best jerky ever.”