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Why “naked” jerky was such a good idea

Naked Cow beef jerky for hiking

We asked the folks at Naked Cow to tell us why we should all get excited about their all-natural, grass-fed “naked” jerky. Naked Cow’s honey jerky is featured in the May Trailfoody. Here’s what they had to say.


There continues to be a growing interest in eating natural and less processed foods, especially by those individuals who live active lives, like hikers and CrossFitters.

And, for good reason–the better the fuel you put in your body, the better it will perform.

Grass-fed beef, in particular, has benefits for active people due to its superior levels of omega-3 fatty acids (compared to regular beef), which aids in cardiovascular health. Grass-fed beef is also usually raised without antibiotics, another big plus. Cutting down on sugar intake can also benefit your cardiovascular health, according to Harvard Health Publications.

Naked Cow jerky CrossFit
Naked Cow at CrossFit Regionals

Put to the Ultimate Test at CrossFit Regionals
Naked Cow Jerky attended the CrossFit Games East Regional event in Albany, NY. We were excited to get feedback from some of the top athletes in the country about our all-natural beef jerky.

Response was phenomenal, and 100% verified our decision almost two years ago to develop an all-natural beef jerky using strips of grass-fed beef, spices and no sugar or preservatives (“No Udder Stuff”). When athletes approached our booth at the CrossFit event, the Nutrition Facts (which almost every person at this event would immediately read) was our biggest ally.

We don’t think this is a fad, and more people will demand healthier food products. We are proud to be able to deliver.

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How They Pack This Jerky With so Much Flavor

We reached out to Lawless Jerky to find out what goes into making super flavorful jerky, like the Japanese Curry flavor we’re including in the next Trailfoody. Here’s what they said:


Our jerky starts with 100% grass-fed beef. We source our beef from New Zealand where the law outlaws GMOs. We hate to say it but, when companies don’t identify the provenance of their meat you have to assume the worst. From there, we use only all-natural ingredients, eschewing the artificial preservatives that had been standard in our industry for time immemorial.

We call ourselves “America’s Craft Jerky,” reflecting our shared values and similar approach to craft brewers and distillers. We, too, combine traditional, artisanal methods with modern creativity. We, too, handcraft our product in small batches. And we, too, incorporate the best ingredients available. In fact, a number of the ingredients we source from around the world, have never before been used in jerky.

An excellent example of Lawless Jerky’s commitment to ingenuity is our Japanese Curry jerky. That variety, adored by foodies, was actually the first we perfected. The story goes back to founder Matt Tolnick’s days in law school at UCLA when he roomed with a pair of Japanese students. Already a jerky hobbyist, Matt connected his avocation to the unique flavors of his roommates’ unique culinary creations. Japanese Curry was an umami-packed flavor unlike any he’d ever tasted. It had elements of Indian and Thai Curries but was very much its own inimitable taste sensation.
As we sought to perfect and commercialize our Japanese Curry jerky, we worked with a spice supplier in Japan, tweaking individual ingredients and proportions. We sampled each blend on its own as an initial screening, then transformed it into a marinade to see how it would translate to jerky, amplifying some flavors while dampening others. The complex blend we ended up with features Turmeric, Coriander, Fenugreek, Cumin, Cinnamon, Ginger, Star Anise, Cloves, Cardamom, Fennel, and Allspice, among other exotic components.

Even among our more common flavors, like Aloha Teriyaki, we bring unconventional elements to the table. Our Teriyaki is more of a Hawaiian teriyaki flavor than a traditional Japanese teriyaki, adding ginger, garlic and onion in place of the sake component. On top of that, we incorporate sesame seeds into our recipe, which add an additional layer of flavor and texture to the jerky.

So, what’s the story with the name, Lawless Jerky?

That’s an easy one! Founder Matt Tolnick started the company after he concluded that, as an attorney, practicing LAW was making him decidedly LESS happy. Matt knew that he could do more good in the world with his jerky than his lawyering.

Lawless also reflects the company’s unconventional approach to everything we do, from our ingredients and recipes to our approach to business. It was important to us that we bring something new to the jerky space, or else, why do it?

We are pleased to share our Japanese Curry jerky in this month’s Trailfoody, and look forward to incorporating other “Braver Flavors” in the future.