The New Primal

The New Primal
From snack to success
Words by Matheson Eller

Kickstarting The New Primal was a happy accident for founder Jason Burke. Although he possessed an entrepreneurial spirit his whole life, he never dreamt of one day owning and facilitating a jerky business. Yet, he now runs one of the most intriguing “better-for-you” food brands in the nation.

The New Primal began in 2012 with the sole product offering of meat jerky sticks, and it has now expanded to offer a variety of condiment sauces, meat rubs, marinades, seasonings, and more. Their buffalo sauce, barbecue sauce, and marinades are currently ranked as the number one-selling product in each of their respective categories across Whole Foods nationally.

The brand boasts 37 diverse products, with even more in the pipeline. One thing Burke prides himself in is novelty.

“If we can’t offer something entirely unique and valuable to our market, we don’t launch it,” Burke said.

But the success behind the brand may be partly accredited to Burke’s roots—roots with deep familial ties where food was community and community was love. Growing up, Burke’s mother was their neighborhood’s most famous chef and would often cook meals en masse in anticipation of a dinner table full of family and friends—familiar and unfamiliar. Burke described his home life and subsequent full dinner table as a “motley crew of diverse backgrounds and belief systems,” where everyone came to “laugh, cry, complain, or dream.”

This generosity and sense of community, all birthed through his family’s love for food, instilled in him the importance of togetherness at a young age. Even now, the table remains the strongest metaphor of that for Burke, and it has naturally spilled over into his professional life.

When Burke’s mother was diagnosed with a chronic illness directly related to nutrition, it sent his family down a path of health exploration. Years before The New Primal was even a consideration, they experimented with paleo recipes in order to assist in her recovery and well-being. When researching healthier snack alternatives within the paleo sphere, Burke stumbled across meat jerky recipes. 

Little did he know that a simple Google search of “How to make paleo jerky” would change the trajectory of his life and career. He researched processes. He educated himself on ingredients. He watched YouTube tutorials. Then, he purchased six meat dehydrators that became permanent residents of his kitchen counter in his 200-square-foot home.

After experimenting with and perfecting the recipe, Burke began packing these snacks for treats at work. Whether through conversation or scent, his software firm co-workers began to take notice of these meat jerkies. Jokingly, a few began to try the snacks Burke made and were floored at both the taste and health benefits.

The jerky snacks became so irresistible for Burke’s co-workers that, while he was away from his desk, they would steal the snacks almost every day. Over time, the friendly “stealing” turned to placing informal orders in the form of sticky-note requests and a $20 bill for their own jerky sticks. With their emotional and financial support, Burke began making the jerkies for his friends and family on a regular basis.

One day, after receiving a few orders from strangers on their newly-launched website, Burke and his wife asked themselves: “Are we on to something here?”

The time it took for Burke’s new fascination to turn from hobby to full-time job was only 18 months. The rest is history.

All of The New Primal food products are gluten-free, dairy-free, sugar-free, grass-fed, paleo, and Whole30-approved. Most of their products are vegan and vegetarian as well. The goal of all of these “-frees” is to make cooking simpler and healthier for those using their products, and as a result, getting more “hands in the kitchen and hearts around the table.”

With the elements of superb taste and genuine health guiding the brand, The New Primal certainly stands out among its competitors as a superb option for meat-lovers and also those who are meat-weary. More than creating a superior food product, though, Burke and his team work to create experiences and memories through the avenue of cooking—what “really matters.”

Since the start of the brand, The New Primal has worked to actively debunk the myth that jerky is only ever sodium, sugar, and preservatives. They were on the frontlines of the health-conscious food movement in the mid-2000s, prior to any of the above labels being widely-known.

With genuine humility, Burke expressed that The New Primal is fulfilling and honoring his mother’s legacy of food and community. The spilling over of his family values into his professional career was a natural and welcome one.

The New Primal team, under Burke’s leadership, is sustainably-minded, animal-conscious, values-driven, and ever-expanding. Never allowing “perfect to get in the way of progress,” Burke and his team remain excited for the future of the brand as they serve clients with rich taste buds and a desire for guilt-free satisfaction.

“We consider it the highest honor to feed families across America with our products,” Burke said.