You’re hiking, skiing, bicycling, snowshoeing, out there burning up the calories in the name of recreation, and you’re famished. You pull out some beef jerky, chew a stick or two, and move on. But the jerky doesn’t quite do the trick. It tastes fine, it shuts up those shouting hunger pangs, but still: something’s missing. There doesn’t seem to be quite enough gas in the tank. You’re thinking, I need just a little more jolt.

You need Perky Jerky.

Which is to say, you need beef jerky that’s been soaked with an "energizing additive" – caffeinated jerky, in other words, coming soon to a store near you. "If I had my way, you’ll find Perky Jerky anywhere you find anything," Brian Levin, Perky Jerky’s founder and president, told

According to company legend, Levin and a friend discovered the wonders of juiced beef jerky one morning on a ski slope when they found that the beef jerky in their pack had marinated all night in an open container of energy drink. "Much to their delight, the jerky had retained its original flavor, but had been made more tender by the accident. What’s more, as they floated their way down the mountain through bottomless powder, they realized they’d been given an extra boost -- the jerky had taken on some of the pep of the energy drink," states the company’s website. "On the next lift ride up, the greatest innovation in jerky since cracked pepper was born." Levin said this creation story is "pretty much the truth of it," adding that after the initial discovery, he "spent the next three years making the USDA happy." Apparently, no one else had come to the department asking if a caffeinated additive was label-legal.

Levin came to meat snacks from the spirits business, where he helped build a U.S. market for Jagermeister, the German liqueur, and Gray Goose vodka. "I learned that you’ve got to create a mystique around a brand, and that’s what we’re trying to do with Perky Jerky," he said, remaining elusive about which parts of the Perky Jerky Web site are true and which are, well, mystique. (Example: The endorsement of Perky Jerky from someone named "Tony Pigford," who calls himself a "professional clown suit model." )

But one aspect of Perky Jerky, which is marketed by the Performance Enhanced Meat Snack Company of Englewood, Colo., is quite serious. Using "the Paul Newman model," he says, Levin contributes a portion of Perky Jerky’s profits to two organizations, the National Down Syndrome Society and the Parent Project Muscular Dystrophy, which focuses on Duchenne Disease. One of Levin’s three children has Duchenne, another has MD. "There’s definitely a big gap in what needs to be done to combat these diseases," he told "We’re just trying to do our part."

But at the same time, Levin doesn’t want Perky Jerky to be taken entirely seriously except as a great pick-me-up. "At the end of the day, I don’t know much about the meat-snack business," he admitted, "but I sure am having fun."