How Was the Meat Straw Created: The Story Behind the Original Meat Straw
January 4, 2019
Every great product has a great origin story, and so does the meat straw. This unexpected mashup of delicious food and a practical utensil began with a bartender who was bored on a slow night in the dead of winter.
Ben Hirko, the bartender in question, was presiding over a slow night at his workplace in Iowa back in 2009. The only people brave enough to battle a snowstorm to come into the bar brought their own sustenance that night — some meat sticks.
With little to do but wait out the storm, Hirko began to grow bored. He got himself a beer and noshed on one of the meat sticks. That’s when inspiration struck. He realized that the meat stick would make an ideal garnish for a Bloody Mary. The cocktail often draws outlandish garnishes, with some showy bars even serving pizza or hamburgers on a stick in the drink. But Hirko knew the savory, salty meat stick would make an even better accompaniment.
The Birth of the Bloody Mary Meat Straw
Hirko decided to try his idea out and stuck a meat stick in a Bloody Mary. He quickly realized the folly of this approach. Only the bottom of the stick was sopping up the tasty tomato and vodka flavor. So, inspiration hit Hirko again. What if he used the meat stick as a straw, combining the salty goodness of the meat with the bite of the cocktail?
Right there at the bar, he fashioned his first prototype, pushing a plastic straw through the meat stick and digging out the middle. He removed enough to try out his idea, and low and behold, the Bloody Mary had never tasted better. In that moment, Hirko knew he had an amazing idea ready to market.
Growing the Meat Straw Beyond Iowa
It wasn’t easy, but Hirko’s idea caught on. He formed the company Benny’s Original Meat Straws and got to work convincing businesses that they needed to buy his wares. One of Benny’s first major clients was the Detroit Lions. The head of food services at the Lions’ home field loved the concept of the meat straw. He bought them en masse to serve with Bloody Marys.
Grocery stores, restaurants and bars quickly caught the meat straw bug. The simplicity of the concept, coupled with its utter practicality, turned the idea into a fun yet different entrepreneurial story. Hirko has since gained other professional sports clients, such as the Washington Nationals, and earned many fans of his distinctive straws.
Would you like to give Benny’s Original Meat Straws a try? We offer them in two flavors. Original has an umami salty-meets-savory taste you will crave for days after you try your first one. Our Smokin’ Chipotle is fiery and gets its bite from chipotle and red peppers. Buy our meat straws for your bar or restaurant, and see why Hirko’s stroke of genius has turned into an impressive business.