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Perky Jerky is banking on caffeinated meat to pay the bills

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Unfortunately, the website for "Jerk and Go" was already taken (har), so Brian Levin settled on naming his company "Perky Jerky." While the name is a step down on the Crude-O-Meter, it's a step up in the accuracy department.

Perky Jerky is caffeinated meat. Levin, a Colorado native, and friend Matt Keiser got the idea a few years ago while skiing -- when they say a Red Bull spilled on their beef jerky. Before you throw up in your mouth a little, just listen: That inspiration resulted in the organization of a company in Denver, Performance Enhancing Meat Products, and its (currently) sole product, Perky Jerky.

The jerky is made with all-natural Utah beef -- no preservatives or nitrates -- and manufactured in a Utah facility. "It's quicker to get to the hills," Levin explains.

The jerky is flavored with guarana, a South American plant whose fruit has known energy-boosting capabilities. While Perky Jerky is advertised as caffeinated, the guarana is used for flavoring purposes only, Levin says: "We make no claim as to any boost that it would provide."

And what does the frickin' stuff taste like?

Levin is modest. "It's the filet mignon of beef jerky," he says. "About 80 percent of people who try it think it's the best jerky they've ever had, regardless of any guarana flavoring. It's moist and tender, whereas most jerky tends to be rough and tumble, like chalk."

The jerky line was launched last August and is available mainly in ski towns, though it can be found in a number of Denver area locations, including all Sports Authority outlets. It comes in 1-ounce packages for $2.99 and 2-ounce bags for $3.99.

Levin says he plans to erect a kiosk selling Perky Jerky on the 16th Street Mall by the end of June, and that the jerky will be available in grocery stores soon. Turkey Perky Jerky (seriously) is also coming down the pipes, he promises, and the company is looking at vegetarian options as well.

"There's nothing more satisfying than getting vegetarians to eat Perky Jerky," he quips.

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