The aroma that hits you when you open the door and enter the Jive Jerky store is a delectable dance of smokiness, dried meats, and spices that are interwoven into a whole equaling a lot more than the sum total of the individual parts.
The countertop is lined with jars of freshly cured jerky in flavors like teriyaki, spicy garlic, and buffalo wing sauce, and ranging in degrees of spiciness from the completely unseasoned "Plain Jane" to "You Pay Twice," an ultra-hot flavor only for the most daring customers.
Behind the counter are four large dehydrators filled with the latest batches of pork and beef jerky, and standing in front of them you'll see Tim O'Grady, the mastermind and chef responsible for what is quite possibly the tastiest jerky you'll ever have the chance to eat.
O'Grady, who was born in Milwaukee but has lived in the Poconos since his early teens, opened his shop on the corner of Main and Church Streets in Moscow in early June, and said that the business is doing even better than he had anticipated.
O'Grady began making jerky at home for his own consumption when he was in his early 20's, but his work as a musician and a corporate consultant for entertainment companies didn't leave much time for developing recipes. When being out on the road for work became tiresome, O'Grady decided to return to the Poconos and to focus on making jerky full-time.
Jive Jerky starts with high quality Angus beef and cuts of pork from Schiff's. O'Grady cuts the meat into strips by hand, discarding as much fat as possible.
The strips of meat are then marinated in seasoning for one to two days depending on the flavors used. The marinated meat is placed on racks in the dehydrators where it dehydrates at 165 degrees for a day or so with the exact drying time determined by the flavor and type of marinade that was used.
The three day process reduces one hundred pounds of wet meat into forty pounds of savory jerky.
O'Grady's website (www.jivejerky.com) discusses the process and ingredients used to make most commercial brands of jerky products and contrasts it with the way his product is made.
"A lot more care is put into Jive Jerky than other brands. When you go into a gas station and buy jerky there are silica gel packets in with the meat. I think it's a real turn-off to have a poisonous substance in the same package as my food," he remarked.
O'Grady continued, "All our meat is hand cut. There is a lot of time put into it. And when you buy jerky from a gas station or some other stores, who knows how long it's been sitting around. Everything here is very fresh and has been on the shelf for 72 hours at most."
Page 2 of 2 - O'Grady pointed out that commercial brands of jerky come in only a few standard flavors, but Jive Jerky offers both the standard favorites and many unique flavors.
He said, "We make about 20 different flavors of jerky and usually have twelve or fifteen in stock. We swap the flavors in and out so there are different kinds on different days."
Among the best-selling flavors are steak seasoning, teriyaki, the super-spicy "You Pay It Twice," and "Swinesational" maple pork.
"Everyone has their favorites, but they all sell. I can't make them fast enough, actually. I wish there were more hours in the day!" O'Grady stated.
Jive Jerky is sold in the store in three ounce packets or in bulk, and online in three-ounce packets. The website points out that one ounce of jerky provides 20 percent of an adult's daily protein requirement, as well as half of the necessary amount of B vitamins and 1.5 mg of iron.
Also available online and in the store are all-natural fruit leathers made by O'Grady's girlfriend, Fawn Dellavalle. The fruit leathers contain only two ingredients, pureed fruit and agave syrup, and are made at the shop in flavors like strawberry, banana, and kiwi.
O'Grady recently began selling Tail Waggers Jerky for Dogs, which he makes from the meat trimmings left behind during the first step of the jerky-making process.
O'Grady explained, "I take the scraps of what we're making, grind it up, and dehydrate it. There's no seasoning in it. I have a diabetic dog so I have to watch what he eats, and Tail Waggers is just 100 percent meat and won't upset his diet."
With four dogs in his household and a family tradition of involvement with service animals, O'Grady has committed to donating a portion of Jive Jerky's sales to America's VetDogs, an organization that provides service dogs to disabled veterans. O'Grady's parents, Dennis and Kay, foster dogs in their home and socialize them to become service animals and guide dogs.
Jive Jerky in specially marked packages is available at the local American Legion and other venues, and a portion of the proceeds is donated to American's VetDogs.
Jive Jerky is located at 100 South Main Street in Moscow. The store is open Tuesday through Saturday from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m., and on Sunday from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m., but O'Grady said, "I'm generally here later, so if you see me in the building, then I'm open." Parking is available behind the store or across the street in the municipal lot. For more information, visit the website, call 236-5957, or visit the Facebook page.