Some may not be sure how to pronounce it, but many know the taste. As customers step into the Shell gas station on 1450 Main Street in Paris, Ky., they are immediately confronted with the bright yellow bag and red lettering that is Mingua Beef Jerky. The bags of jerky are front and center, strategically placed as the top sought for jerky.
“We’ve got four different kinds of beef jerky,” said Duretta Barbee, an employee at the Shell, “and it’s the main one that sells.”
From a Ronco Food Dehydrator owner Ronnie Mingua bought off an infomercial to the now big time factory production, Mingua Beef Jerky has come a long way. Now, 19 years later, Mingua continues to solidify its mark on Paris, Ky., history.
The business got its start as a small mom and pop production just on the outskirts of Bourbon, County, in the summer of 1994. Now Mingua is in the process of changing locations to accommodate a larger setup. The new location is “three times the size of the current location,” said Mingua Beef Jerky Sales Representative, Leslie Martin. Martin considers herself a jack-of-all-trades when it comes to the business.
The jerky is most often found at convenience stores, gas stations, and grocery stores all throughout the state. Mingua Beef Jerky is a clear top choice when it comes to local Paris natives.
However, as for what makes Mingua tastes so different from other kinds of jerky, that will remain a secret. Martin was able to say that part of Mingua’s consistency comes from using the same routine, everyday.
“Obviously its evolved over the years…doing it by hand, versus using a machine.”
The business has continuously passed regulations on health codes and been approved to produce its products according to the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA).
Current flavors include Grippos, Lean Mean Mild, Hot, and Cajun.
The jerky can be spotted in bags of various colors including: the traditional yellow for the Mild, purple for Cajun, black for Grippos, and black for hot. All bags share the same red lettering reading “MINGUA BEEF JERKY”, accompanied by a sign listing the various package sizes and prices. Size and price range from $11.99 per 8oz. bag, $6.99 per 4oz. bag, and $1.59 per ½oz. bag.
Women are most often seen purchasing the jerky, said Barbee. Mingua Beef Jerky is an all-natural recipe consisting of 1g. total fat and only 45 calories per 16 servings of each 8oz. bag, according to the Mingua Beef Jerky website.
20 year-old Paris native Kara Mardell said that she was surprised to find that women are the main customers seen purchasing the jerky. However, she said that she has been eating Mingua Beef Jerky since she moved here 10 years ago.
“It is by far my favorite beef jerky of all time,” said Mardell.
Despite the Mingua business growing in size it still plans to remain a local Paris production.
In a town where the population size reads 8,000, Mingua Beef Jerky gives name to the success that can come from a small start.
Even with the bustle that comes with permanently switching locations “new flavors may be coming soon,” said Martin.
For more information on this story, check out this Meograph.
By Alexandra Rankin