Jim Richardson, the owner of Louisville-based Derby City Distribution, was putting Grippo’s products on shelves around the tri-state when the thought struck him: Why not add the Grippo’s signature spice blend to beef jerky? When he (also the founder of Pap’s Beef Jerky, conveniently) approached the ubiquitous Cincinnati potato chip purveyor, they were interested, but weren’t sure whether the blend could withstand the low-and-slow heat his jerky needed and still taste as good as the original. “The [Bar-B-Q] seasoning is extremely fickle,” Richardson says. “One would think it’s easy to just apply it, but it’s significantly more complicated than that.”
It took his team six months of recipe tinkering, but they got the ingredients and ratios down, and Grippo’s was on board. The minimally processed, thin-cut USDA Select beef is coated in spices and cooked three and a half hours. The lean treat might not have the same sweetness as the sugar-dusted chips, but the familiar flavors and building heat are still there. Since launching the product in March 2018, Pap’s has sold 350,000 bags throughout the tri-state and beyond.