(ARA) - Certain foods and holidays are synonymous - Thanksgiving and Turkey, Halloween and Candy, just to name a few. But did you know that many foods have holidays all their own? From National Pie Day (Jan. 23) and National Chili Dog Day (July 26) to National Mustard Day (Aug. 4) and Homemade Bread Day (Nov. 17), hungry Americans have something to celebrate almost every day throughout the year. But until now, one of the country's oldest and most popular foods, went unrecognized.
This year, on June 12, a food that has been around for centuries finally gets its day in the sun - National Jerky Day. Instead of feeding your sweet tooth this summer, feed your meat tooth with great-tasting jerky.
Whether you're an avid enthusiast or a meat snack newbie, here are a few tips for meaty conversations around the water cooler.
1. Proud heritage
In the U.S., the practice of drying meat dates back to the Native Americans and earliest European settlers who needed to store food for long periods of time. The popularity of jerky increased during the expansion across North America as explorers sought highly portable, satiating foods that required no refrigeration.
2. Not your grandpa's jerky
While yesterday's jerky may have been as tough as shoe leather, today's jerky, like Jack Link's Beef Jerky, the No. 1 U.S. meat snack brand, is made with tender strips of 100 percent beef, turkey, chicken and pork and is available in a variety of styles from traditional-style jerky to easy-to-chew nuggets. And, unlike days gone by, today's jerky includes great tastes like teriyaki beef jerky, turkey jerky, peppered beef jerky, and so much more - there is something for everyone.
3. Not for men only
Contrary to popular belief, jerky is not just a "guy snack." Research shows that almost as many women as men snack on jerky. Since it's naturally protein-rich, jerky is more filling and will help you sustain energy longer than many other calorie-filled or sugar-laden snacks. Jerky is also low in fat, calories and carbs, making it a smarter, more satisfying snacking choice.
4. Beats popcorn and pretzels hands down
Who knew? Meat snacks are the fourth highest-grossing sector within the overall salty snack universe. Meat snacks - including jerky - outsell other popular salty snacks, including popcorn and pretzels. And, it is easy to find in any grocery store, mass retailer, convenience or drug store nationwide.
5. Move over wine and cheese
If you're looking for a way to celebrate this exciting snacking holiday - or any gathering, for that matter - jump on the latest entertaining bandwagon and host a beer and jerky tasting. Your friends and family will love the change of pace from traditional chips and dip, or the staid and run of the mill wine and cheese. For tips on how to host a beer and jerky tasting adventure, visit www.jacklinks.com/beerandjerky.
While banks and schools do not close for National Jerky Day, it does give jerky fans and admirers a new way to kick-off summer and celebrate the popular snack. In honor of the holiday, Jack Link's partnered with renowned mosaic artist Jason Mecier to create a unique homage to the popular snack. The result: a portrait of the elusive Sasquatch made entirely out of jerky. Visit www.facebook.com/jacklinksbeefjerky on Tuesday, June 12 to view an exclusive behind-the-scenes look at the creation of the jerky artwork.